Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« IPCC - In a class of its own. Josh 86 | Main | A piece of Stringer »
Saturday
Mar192011

Environmentalists trashing the environment (again)

From Der Spiegel

Once...rubbish is collected, the sorting continues. Special machines with infrared sensors discern six different types of plastic. But then something strange happens -- more than half the yoghurt cups, plastic juice bottles and packaging foils are incinerated. That is quite legal. Under German law, only 36 percent of plastic rubbish has to be recycled.

The remainder can be sold for a profit, for example to plants that burn rubbish to produce heating or power. Such facilities are everywhere in Germany. Municipalities across the country built then in response to a ban on storing garbage in landfills. Indeed, now there are far too many of them in Germany -- and there is a shortage of burnable waste.

The result is that firms are buying up as much plastic waste -- which burns well due to the high quantity of oil in plastics -- as they can get their hands on. Indeed, some companies have even resorted to importing plastic waste to burn -- hardly a contribution to an environmental utopia.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (23)

I bet there are some wonderfully toxic combustion products from some plastics. Environmental utopia would still seem to be some way off, but then, if they will switch off the Nuclear power...

Mar 19, 2011 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Dioxins all over the fatherland?

Mar 19, 2011 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan

My German neighbours confirm the prevalence of waste burning CHP in that country. And wondered why we 'don't do it so much here'? Fair question.

The Janus-like attitude of German politics to German energy problems goes much deeper than burning plastic waste for heat and power. This from Der Spiegel in 2007:

It all sounds good. But no one knows whether it will really be enough. Moreover, one of the greatest climate-related problems -- the current boom in the construction of new coal-fired power plants -- has only been addressed vaguely or in a half-hearted manner by the people involved. The Vattenfall project in Berlin is only one example of a larger trend. Utility companies want to set up a total of 26 new coal-fired power plants in Germany during the coming years.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,472786,00.html

Not quite the all-renewables ecotopia we hear so much about is it?

Mar 19, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

The relevant EU diktat requires separate collection but not separate disposal.

Mar 19, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Never fails to hit its target !!!!

Mar 19, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterbreath of fresh air

breath of fresh air ...
Got there just ahead of me.
The only Law that can be guaranteed to work!

Mar 19, 2011 at 7:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

Unintended consequences again. They are unavoidable. Therefore all top-down environmental regulation, and regulation period, will generally achieve the opposite of what is intended.

Mar 19, 2011 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterben

Interesting to see the Germans doing the pragmatic thing, while Britain impales itself on its own sword and cries, "VICTORY!".

Mar 19, 2011 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

By contrast with Germany, people in the UK seem firmly opposed to 'electricity from waste' - despite the assurances from the operators that the emissions are non-polluting and non-toxic. I guess we're happy just to export it to China - or Germany, perhaps, if they have a shortage..!
In the meantime, we (sigh...) continue cutting windows out of envelopes - take the tops off plastic bottles - and agonise over whether we put plastic egg boxes in with the milk cartons...

Mar 19, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Burning thrash for energy is actually quite sensible. We do it on a large scale in Sweden. Of course glass must be separated since it melts and mucks up the boiler. And aluminium since it is actually valuable.
We also separate most of the paper since Sweden has a large raw-material hungry paper industry.
But except for that everything else can be burned. If the boiler is modern and has sufficiently high-temperature combustion.and good flue-gas scrubbing there are no environmental problems.
However to get good economics you need a large plant and a large market for area heating so it is really only worthwhile for fairly large cities, and you also need a landfill site to dump the ashes.

Mar 19, 2011 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

Better than wind power...

Mar 19, 2011 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan

Here is a description of a modern thrash-burning power station in Sweden (Gärstadverket in Linköping), unfortunately only in Swedish:

http://www.tekniskaverken.se/kundservice/broschyrer/anlaggningar/Garstadverket.pdf

This station produces a maximum of 180 MW heat and 70 MW electricity from 55 tons of thrash per hour. The heat is sufficient for about 25,000 households, which is a substantial proportion since Linköping has about 130,000 inhabitants.

Mar 19, 2011 at 11:00 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

Here is a description of a modern thrash-burning power station in Sweden (Gärstadverket in Linköping), unfortunately only in Swedish:

http://www.tekniskaverken.se/kundservice/broschyrer/anlaggningar/Garstadverket.pdf

This station produces a maximum of 180 MW heat and 70 MW electricity from 55 tons of thrash per hour. The heat is sufficient for about 25,000 households, which is a substantial proportion since Linköping has about 130,000 inhabitants.

Mar 19, 2011 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

re tty

and you also need a landfill site to dump the ashes.

Not always true. Providing the ashes are clean enough they could be recycled into construction material like breezeblocks and thus recycled into houses. Or uses as road fill, or bedding material for paving a bit like crushed glass seems to be in the UK. You could argue that it's landfill by another name, but still serves a useful purpose in making things out of waste and avoiding the need to quarry or dredge for alternatives.

Mar 19, 2011 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

The UK has some incinerators, (e.g. here) not as many as some countries though. Of course, Greenpeace bitterly objected to landfill, and then when some counties started incinerating the trash, they opposed the incinerators.

Of course, Greenpeace insist we listen to "the science" on climate change but completely ignore the scientific evidence (e.g. on the safety of incinerators, GM food etc. etc.) when it suits them.

Mar 19, 2011 at 11:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

You have to love it:


Interesting to see the Germans doing the pragmatic thing, while Britain impales itself on its own sword and cries, "VICTORY!".

While much recycling effort is worthwhile, much is more than useless. It is more an effort to assuage our consciences while we close our eyes hoping, without any knowledge or desire to learn, that our minimalist efforts offset our rather extravagant indulgences.

Mar 20, 2011 at 5:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterPluck

Applogies to jorgekafkazar. My post failed to cite his comment.

Mar 20, 2011 at 5:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPluck

Why does everybody immediately think "law of unintended consequences" for every green initiative? I guess it's because nobody ever does a full life cycle engineering evaluation for these green/politically inspired initiatives. Think wind turbines, solar farms etc etc.

Mar 20, 2011 at 7:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Another consequence is the price of otherwise available wood waste. Think of chip board manufacturers etc. raw materials were so cheap it was cost effective to use wood waste to make new products, watch for these companies going to the wall as raw material prices go through the roof because power stations are lapping up supplies.

I heard we are now importing wood waste to fire biomass power stations the other day, madness.

Mar 20, 2011 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Frosty. In the SW they are building bio-mass power stations (which will burn imported wood chips) as it is the only way the SW will meet its renewable energy targets. Political correctness = sheer lunacy.

Mar 20, 2011 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I drive past this plant nearly every day when I am in Vienna. It is a truly awesome structure and is a perfect example of how to use waste wisely.

http://www.wienenergie.at/we/ep/channelView.do/channelId/-28016/pageTypeId/19118

In rural Austria, we have monthly collections: normal waste, plastics and tins, paper, bio-waste and occasional large or bulky rubbish, glass goes to the bottlebanks of which each village has at least one. The collections are staggered through the month and each household is issued with a timetable of events. In Vienna, because most people live in flats there are huge communal bins, sometimes with separate paper, glass, "special rubbish" and are generall collected weekly. The rubbish is separated at the plants before incineration.

Mar 20, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Barrett

The Irish Greens wiped out

Not only have the Irish turned their backs to the Greens, but have also put them in a financial bind.

Irish Greens go broke

Mar 20, 2011 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Phillip Bratby

Frosty. In the SW they are building bio-mass power stations (which will burn imported wood chips) as it is the only way the SW will meet its renewable energy targets. Political correctness = sheer lunacy.

I missed this earlier but saw it in my more leisurely Sunday read. I nearly fell on the floor in hysterics when I read this. It got worse in Ireland.

The power plant for the Iveragh Peninsula of Ireland, AKA "the Ring of Kerry" is located just outside of Cahersiveen and is turf fired. While not large, it does keep us warm and in the light. Gormley, now thank God ex-Minister of the Environment, in his infinite wisdom decided that cutting turf would be bad for the environment and so ordered all the bogs closed. Since the plant was producing power off of biomass for many years, this naturally lead to the interesting question of just how we were going to produce electricity for the biggest tourist draw in the west of Ireland.

Fortunately, the last election resolved that -- we are cutting the turf again without fear of the Green Jackeens of Dublin town sending in the Black and Tans to stop us.

Mar 20, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>