wouldn't you love it if . . .


there were some way to make landfills less of a problem?

I mean, really.  They smell.  They take up lots of land.  Building a new one is always another game of NIMBY.  And, once they’re filled up and closed . . . well, then all they do is smell!

Most people don’t give much thought to the science behind landfills, but they’re a highly engineered environment, designed to safely contain decomposing waste and methane while keeping out the elements. Clean energy advocates have looked at landfills for years as a ideal location for solar power installations, but encountered problems because as waste breaks down over time, their shape can shift and damage solid structures. Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/13Jfx) And that’s where the Spectral Cap comes in. Using of a geomembrane (made of thermoplastic polyolefin) and flexible solar panels, the Spectral Cap covers thousands of acres of landfill, allowing the solar panels to collect energy. The landfill highlighted in the video below is one of only 3 such installations in the United States – New York, Texas, and the largest in Georgia is seen on the video.

The geomembrane is  interesting all by itself, made of a durable kind of plastic and easy to use alone or with other rolls – which can be attached by welding them together on site. But the thing that makes the Spectral Power Cap innovative is the7,000+  integrated flexible solar panels. Each Teflon-coated panel carries 144-watt and is “factory bonded” to the geomembrane, shipped to the landfill and unrolled on site. The PV panels are  durable enough to walk on, and connected by a million feet of wire to four inverters that sends the solar energy onto the grid. This grid has a total capacity of enough power to operate 224 homes! And, the owners of the landfill, Republic Services, have a deal to sell the power back to Georgia Power at wholesale prices, providing clean energy for their commercial customers.

So, all in all, this is a great way to convert all those old landfills we’ve got lying around the country into something wonderful! Unless you’d rather have another ski resort, like the one in Mt. Brighton, MI.

Rock on!

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there were a use for all those dirty diapers?

Well, there is. Now before you say “Eeuuw!” let me tell you that they clean them up first.

A company inthe United Kingdom, Knowaste, has been recycling dirty diapers – both the juvenile and the adult versions –  and feminine hygiene products (a group they call absorbent hygiene products) since the 1990s.

The process involves three key stages:

  1. Used nappies, adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products (AHPs) are collected and transported to a Knowaste plant.
  2. The Knowaste process sterilizes the AHP material, deactivates and mechanically separates the individual components:  organic residue, plastic and super absorbent polymers.
  3. The reclaimed components can then be made into recycled products such as:
    • plastic components for product manufacturing
    • plastic recycling bins
    • Plastic roofing tiles
    • cardboard
    • cardboard industrial tubing
    • fillers in the construction and road building sector

 

So, why recycle these AHPs? Knowaste’s answer,” Because we can!” Seriously, folks, we do not want these things in our landfills.

  1. They take 500 years to decompose
  2. They contain human waste
  3. We can salvage the raw materials

So, here we have a company that has been quietly taking our dirty diapers and making them into useful stuff since at least 1999. According to the company website, their facility at Arnheim in the Netherlands:

  • Processes up to 100,000 tons of diaper material per year.
  • Successfully converts disposable diapers and adult incontinence products into marketable materials.
  • Produces 20,000 tons of recycled fiber and 12,000 tons of usable recycled plastic per year.
  • Recycles diaper and incontinence waste from more than 1,200 healthcare institutions, 750 day care facilities and more than 100 municipalities in The Netherlands.
  • Saves 150 million gallons of fresh water that would be used in the normal production of cellulose fiber.
  • Saves more than one million cubic meters of natural gas; enough energy to power a city with a population of 10,000 for one year.
  • Saves more than 230,000 trees from being harvested each year to obtain the equivalent fiber than can be recovered from this facility

Now, I’d probably be very quiet, too, if I were cleaning up dirty diapers. However, I do think that these folks deserve a great big round of applause for taking something so distasteful to us and harmful to the environment and turning it, diaper by diaper by feminine hygiene product, into useful things while saving our other resources.

 If you hear that these folks are coming around your landfills or your towns to ask for a contract, please support them. Speak up for them to your elected officials and get AHPs out of our landfills.  Knowaste will take all the used AHPs from hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and daycare centers and recycle them. So they don’t take AHPs from you and me – that is still a lot of extra room in our landfills and a lot of  resources saved.

Knowaste was once in the US; in Santa Clarita, Ca. (Because of this, California unfairly got the credit for diaper recycling in a blog back in 2002.) The program there was terminated in 2003 because it was still too costly for the single household. Knowaste has been working on bringing the cost to the household down, though it still costs more to recycle those dydies than to throw them away – wehn you measure the cost in dollars spent  on fees alone – so they do not deal with single family dwellings or even apartment complexes, yet. The kids in my life are long out of diapers, but I’m hoping that their children’s dirty dydies will be recycled.

Rock on!