Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

Study shows mercury risk in flat panel recycling

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The presence of mercury in flat panel displays, such as laptop monitors and LCD TVs, has thrown up potential health and safety issues in a WRAP-commissioned study into the technical and commercial potential for recycling the items.

 

 
 

The research, which was carried out by environmental consultancy Axion Consulting, aims to help WRAP understand the recycling outlets for flat panel displays (FPDs), as there are currently no automated commercial processes in the UK and Europe.

 

However, due to an increased uptake in items, WRAP anticipates that the number of FPDs in the WEEE waste stream will rise “dramatically” in the next few years, requiring a suitable recycling outlet.

In particular the trial looked at the presence of mercury in the cold compact fluorescent light in the ‘backlighting’ system for LCD TVs, laptop computers and desktop monitors. The existence of this mercury means that end-of-life FPDs are classed as hazardous waste.

The study took the form of four demonstration trials. The first looked at the manual disassembly of FPDs, then the shredding of FPDs, the optical sorting of shredded FPDs using TiTech optical sorting technology and mercury decontamination.

The manual disassembly, which took place at Bruce Metals in South Yorkshire, was intended to remove the mercury content from the FPDs. The stripping of the items also allowed the researchers to investigate the potential harm and exposure of workers in a commercial operation.

Mercury

Mercury remained a key issue throughout the trial, with it being stated that there were a number of backlight breakages in the manual disassembly element of the trial. And, as the trial was undertaken without significant time pressures, it was suggested that a commercial operation would face a higher level of backlight breakages.

The conclusion of the WRAP study highlighted that employees at an FPD recycling facility would be subjected to levels of mercury “higher than is acceptable”. However, it suggested that this could be reduced with personal protective equipment and local extract ventilation.

Furthermore a suitable washing medium to remove mercury from the FPD items could be not found in the trial, with results from the large-scale trial proving inconclusive. And, even under laboratory conditions, there was an uncertainty as to whether mercury could be completely washed from the shredded FPDs.

In a bid to improve on this, the researchers then used Aqua Regia – a strong acid – to attempt to remove mercury from the FPDs. The acid removed more than the water washing technique but only 56% of mercury added to the shredded material could be accounted for in output fraction.

The research concluded that more work would need to be done to establish a wash capable of removing high levels of mercury in a commercial process, as well as a greater understanding of where the washed mercury goes and alternative methods for its removal.

Facility

Addressing the potential for delivering a large-scale FPD recycling facility, the research states that a 20,000 tonnes-a-year capacity facility would potentially cost £3.798 million to develop, which would be capable of processing five tonnes of FPDs each hour.

It said the plant could consist of:

  • A three-shaft shredder;
  • 8mm flip-flop sieve to remove the fines;
  • Mercury washing stage to recovery mercury;
  • Dryer to dry the shred prior to separation;
  • Air ballistic unit to remove the thin films;
  • Magnet to remove ferrous metals;
  • Eddy current system to remove non-ferrous metals and circuit boards;
  • TiTech x-tract machine to remove glass/film composite; and
  • TiTech PolySort to separate polymers

Related links

WRAP – FPD study

 

However, the study claimed that there were issues relating to capture rate of plastics found in FPDs, with near-infrared sorting equipment used in the trial unable to detect a commercial viable level of the black plastics present in the FPD items.

 

Source: www.letsrecycle.com

Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The number of single use carrier bags used in Wales looks set to plummet under Welsh Assembly Government proposals announced today (June 4) to introduce a seven pence charge for them from Spring 2011.

 However, campaign groups have attacked the proposal, claiming existing voluntary agreements and recycling initiatives would have a better environmental impact than the planned tax.

 

Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

Wales proposes 7p charge for single-use bags

The announcement of proposals for the tax on single-use carrier bags come as the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) looks to reduce the over 400 million carrier bags currently distributed in the retail sector in the country.

Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson will today launch a second consultation on the proposed tax today (June 4) at the Hay Festival for literature and arts, in a bid to gauge responses to the proposed seven pence charge.

Under the proposals, a seven pence charge would be placed on bags from Spring 2010. It had been anticipated that the WAG would look to introduce a tax of between five and 15 pence per bag under a four-month consultation launched in June 2009 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Consultation

The second round of consultation, which closes on August 2 2010, is also seeking views on whether there should be exemptions for certain types of bags used to carry unpackaged food or pharmacy medicines and whether there should be a voluntary agreement with retailers to ensure profits from the charge are passed to environmental or community projects.

Commenting on the proposed charge, Ms Davidson said: “Carrier bags are an iconic symbol of the throwaway society in which we live. Whilst I know that reducing our use of single use carrier bags is not going to solve all our environmental problems, the charge delivers an important message about the need for us to live much more sustainable lives.

“I believe the seven pence charge is high enough to encourage consumers to change their shopping habits but not so high that it will stop impulse shopping or create a significant burden when we have forgotten reusable bags.

“I am confident that the Welsh public will embrace the carrier bag charge and see it as positive step towards preserving our beautiful countryside and helping Wales to reduce its carbon footprint.

A study undertaken by environmental consultancy AEA in October 2009 claimed that there was “good evidence” for Wales to introduce a charge, and added that the WAG should follow an example set by the Republic of Ireland with its Plastax Levy in 2002 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Reuse

Responding to the WAG proposal, the Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) – an alliance of carrier bag manufacturers – hit out at the proposed levy and claimed that the Welsh Assembly Government was “ignoring the science” by proceeding with plans for the charge.

A spokesman for the organisation told letsrecycle.com: “We don’t believe that there is any such thing as a ‘single-use’ carrier bag, as is claimed by the Welsh Assembly Government, as we know from Defra statistics that 80% are reused at least once for something or other, for things like bin bags.”

The spokesman also pointed to a voluntary agreement put in place by WRAP with retailers over the past two years, which saw single-use carrier bag distribution fall by 48% compared to 2006 levels (see letsrecycle.com story).

Related links

“We know the number of bags being wasted and we know that people have been made to think about whether they need a bag, which is the primary principle for the tax being given by the Welsh Minister,” he said.

Furthermore, the spokesman identified the growing number of recycling points at major supermarkets, which he said now totalled “over 3,000”, which allow shoppers to deposit used bags into a dedicated container for recycling. The spokesman stressed: “What this will do is not help the environment at all.”

Source: http://www.letsrecycle.com

Welsh minister supports Every Can Counts

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson has given her backing to the drinks can recycling campaign Every Can Counts and encouraged businesses and public sector organisations across Wales to follow the example set by the scheme.

 

Environment minister Jane Davidson with members of the IPS Green Team promoting the Every Can Counts campaign

Environment minister Jane Davidson with members of the IPS Green Team promoting the Every Can Counts campaign

 

 
 

The campaign, which was launched in October 2008, is aimed at capturing both steel and aluminium beverage cans away from households and is run by aluminium recycling sector trade organisation, Alupro with backing from WRAP, UK Can Makers and Beverage Can Recycling Europe. 

Its intention to help capture 30,000 tonnes-a-year of aluminium beverage cans and 8,000 tonnes-a-year of steel beverage cans, was endorsed in England by former minister for waste and recycling Jane Kennedy in February 2009 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The Every Can Counts campaign is working with the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and government-funded resource management service Envirowise Wales to roll-out the scheme in Welsh public sector organisations.

Envirowise is promoting the campaign as part of its public sector waste minimisation campaign (PSWMC), which is funded by the WAG and encourages sustainable waste management practices.

Under the arrangement, the campaign is trying to get all public sector organisations in Wales to work towards reducing waste generated as a result of their day-to-day operations.

Envirowise is managed by AEA Technologies and Serco Limited, however, a contract to manage the service is currently being re-let following the merger of existing waste and recycling programmes into one delivery body under WRAP in April 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Campaign

Ms Davidson visited the offices of Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in Newport, South Wales on Monday (May 24) to show her support for the drinks can recycling campaign.

The IPS has adopted the Every Can Counts campaign to complement its existing recycling programme and encourage recycling among its 365-strong staff, with funding from the PSWMC enabling it to produce promotional material to share throughout the organisation.

Ms Davidson, said: “I am very impressed by the recycling efforts of the Identity and Passport Service and would like to congratulate the staff on their achievements so far.”

She added that the scheme exemplified what could be achieved by workplace recycling and said: “I hope their success will encourage other organisations to take their recycling efforts to the next level.”

Rick Hindley, of Every Can Counts, said: “The range of programmes we are now working with demonstrate the flexibility of Every Can Counts and how it can effectively increase the pro-environmental behaviour of employees. It’s extremely positive to witness how the Identity and Passport Service is implementing the programme and to see it making a difference straight away.”

Related links

Every Can Counts

WAG

And, Ms Davidson said that the forthcoming ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy, which is set to be published next month, would look to build on recycling away from the household in order to reach its proposed target of recycling or composting 70% of municipal waste by 2025 (see letsrecycle.com story).

She explained: “Later this spring I will be launching our waste management strategy ‘Towards Zero Waste’ which will set out our ambitions of becoming a high recycling country by 2025 and a zero waste country by 2050. Dramatically improving recycling at work wll be key to helping us achieve these ambitions.”