Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Keep Mercury from Rising

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is toxic to people and wildlife. Human activities such as coal burning and trash disposal have significantly increased mercury levels in the environment When products containing mercury are broken or thrown in the trash, outdoors, or down the drain, mercury cycles through the environment, polluting air and water, and accumulating in fish. You and your family can be exposed to mercury by breathing its fumes, eating contaminated fish, or touching spilled mercury.
All the New England states have lakes and ponds with fish that have elevated levels of mercury. In Massachusetts, almost half of the lakes and ponds tested have one or more types of fish with unsafe levels of mercury. Over 40 states have issued fish consumption advisories due to mercury.
Many common products contain mercury and can pollute the environment when they are incinerated, broken, or disposed of down drains.
Fluorescent and compact fluorescent bulbs.
Mercury containing thermometers
Mercury thermostats
Batteries made before 1990
Button batteries, like those found in watches, calculators and hearing aids.
Pilot lights in gas appliances such as stoves, water heaters, furnaces, washers, dryers and heaters
Switches found in some smoke detctors
older chemistry sets
flat panel screens
Proper disposal of Mercury containing products will help prevent it from entering the environment. Residents should bring their Mercury containing products to the Chatham Transfer Station Recycling Center Mercury Collection Shed. Or to receive a free replacement thermometer or thermostats bring your old ones to the Chatham Health Department! Call 508-945-5165 or chathamrecycles.org for more information.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Aye, There's The Rub(ber)

When you consider that "Americans throw out 300 million automobile tires a year", you gotta commend anyone who thinks outside of the box -- or at least the gas-guzzling SUV. So with all that rubber just taking up real estate in landfills around the world, what's a socially-conscious industrial designer to do? Apparently, the answer is "make rubber tubs". Don't take this the wrong way -- we LOVE anything to do with recycling -- but if there's nothing uglier than an old, bald tire, it would have to be, well, a tub made from old, bald tires masquerading as chic utilitarian ware. And just in case you want to add insult to injury, get out your checkbook because THREE of these babies are gonna set you back $150 -- $350 for a trio if you opt for the slightly more appealing tall boys. These tubs were made in Egypt and we've always had to wonder about the egyptians, but I guess if you introduce the globe to the concept of 9-year-old boy kings overseeing your entire civilization as well as the building of pyramids, might as well blaze the recycling trails with something like this. (Source: Design Within Reach)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Where Does It Go?

After we reduce, reuse, recycle...after we compost...what happens to what's left?

Chatham currently pays $52 per ton to haul and dispose of trash at Covanta Energy's SEMASS incinerators in Rochester, MA. $37.50 of this is a contracted 'tipping fee'. Chatham was prudent 23 years ago in capping its landfill and signing a 30-year contract for garbage incineration which expires in 2015, a scant 7 years hence. Upon renewal, our SEMASS tipping fee will more than likely double, and given today's uncertainties, the cost of haulage from now on will be anyone's guess.

We MUST get serious about reducing the waste going to SEMASS.

First, residents and businesses must recycle more. A reasonable goal is 50 % of the waste stream. Chatham's 2006 rate was about 21 %. 2007 numbers are looking better, the official percentage rate to be reported by the State in April. Recycling is not only the right thing to do for the environment, but the sale of recyclables generates revenue for Chatham, as well as removing the cost of hauling them to SEMASS.

Second, homeowners should compost kitchen organics, except fats and oils. (These should not go down the sink, rather put in the trash or take relatively clean used vegetable oil to the Recycling Area's oil shed.) Water is the bulk of the weight of organic materials and should be removed whenever possible.

Third, any hazardous waste should be set aside for Hazardous Waste Collection dates in Harwich, except mercury which is accepted at Chatham's Recycling Area. (This includes fluorescent bulbs old and new; NICAD batteries; some button-cell batteries from hearing aids and watches; cell phones; ballast resisters; thermostats; thermometers and smoke detectors.)
What's left is trucked to SEMASS' shred-and-burn facility which incinerates 1million tons of trash per year. This fuels generators which produce enough electricity to operate the plant and, via NSTAR, more than 75,000 homes. SEMASS recovers $1,000 in coins per day! 50,000 tons of other recyclable metals are recovered annually. Ninety per cent of the processed refuse is combusted, leaving about 100,000 tons of ash residue annually which is landfilled in Carver, Massachusetts.

The word from SEMASS? "We are the LAST step, not the first step, in recycling."

For more details, visit SEMASS.

Have you visited ChathamRecycles.org yet? Come take a look!

spot illustration © 2007 by Bob Staake - All Rights Reserved
article by G

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Toys R Us Goes Green

Toys “R” Us Goes Green With New Branded Toy Collection

Toys “R” Us will launch an exclusive line of environmentally friendly toys that will be marketed under the Toys “R” Us brand. The toys are being introduced as more kids and families strive to make lifestyle changes that incorporate more organic and natural products. The first toys in the collection—Natural Wooden Toys, Natural Cotton plush animals, and Organic Cotton Dolls—will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at www.Toysrus.com by Earth Day, April 22. Additional items will be introduced later this year.

The toys, which promote “Good Green Fun,” come packaged in earth-tone colored boxes that bear a special “R” seal. This seal consists of a green version of the iconic Toys “R” Us reversed “R” logo with a green leaf, encircled by the words “Recycle, Renew, Reuse, Re-think,” and signifies for parents that the toys are eco-friendly.

“We know that kids are becoming more environmentally conscious and are curious about how they can do their part to help protect the planet,” says Karen Dodge, chief merchandising officer, Toys “R” Us, US. “Going green is more than just a trend. It’s becoming a lifestyle. This is just our first step in offering our customers the best selection of eco-friendly and organic products in all of our Toys “R” Us stores nationwide.”

Crafted from natural materials, these items come in packaging that is made from no less than 70% recycled material. The Natural Wooden Toys are decorated using a unique wood-burning technique, which offers a classic look. The Natural Cotton plush animals and Organic Cotton Dolls are colored using natural or water-based dyes and are made with unprocessed, unbleached, and untreated cotton.

In addition, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified that the materials used to make the Natural Wooden Toys were sourced from well-managed forests, using a system of ten rules that define responsible forest management. Each wooden product in the collection is marked with an identifiable FSC logo.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Press Release:Paper Recycling Success Story in U.S.

Paper Recycling Hits Record High

Industry Meets Goal Ahead of Schedule, Sets New Aggressive Target

New York, NY – In 2007, an all-time high of 56 percent of the paper consumed in America was recovered for recycling, achieving a significant industry goal five years ahead of schedule. Announcing the achievement today, the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) also set a new goal of 60 percent recovery by 2012.
“Industry is demonstrating a real commitment to environmental sustainability by continuing to set and achieve aggressive paper recovery goals,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman. “Whether at home, school, or work, paper recovery is something we can all do to make a difference.”
“While the upward trend in recovery rates is most encouraging, getting to 60 percent is an important challenge for all of us. Everyone has a role to play in our effort to sustain and grow the country’s recycling programs and recover more paper,” continued Patrick J. Moore, chairman and CEO, Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation. Smurfit-Stone is a longstanding AF&PA member and is one of the world's largest paper recyclers. The company collected more than 7 million tons of recyclable material in 2007.
The 54.3 million tons of paper recovered in 2007 add up to more than 360 pounds for every man, woman, and child in America. Each percentage point is the equivalent of approximately one million additional tons of recovered paper – enough to fill more than 14,000 railroad cars.
Joining the announcement at the industry's 131st Annual Paper Week conference, Maria Vickers, Deputy Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste applauded the paper industry's achievements in increasing paper recycling, noting that “in 2007, the US recycled over 25 million tons more paper than was recycled in 1990. This increase in paper recycling reduced emissions by more than 97 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, comparable to the annual emissions of nearly 18 million cars.” She also noted that EPA and AF&PA continue to work together on projects to stimulate paper recycling across the country.
Matthew McKenna, president and CEO of national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, a partner of AF&PA on projects to promote paper recycling in schools, praised the Association and its members for their efforts. “True environmental progress, like what we celebrate today, comes when industries work together with communities, organizations, and dedicated individuals to make things happen.”
AF&PA is the national trade association of the forest, paper, and wood products industry. AF&PA represents companies and related associations that engage in or represent the manufacture of pulp, paper, paperboard, and wood products. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 6 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing output, employs more than one million people, and ranks among the top 10 manufacturing employers in 42 states with an estimated payroll exceeding $50 billion. Visit AF&PA online at www.afandpa.org.