Adrian Convery, Business Development Manager for waste management specialist CDEnviro, tells us how we should stop thinking in terms of waste and instead think in terms of resources.
As a society, our relationship with resources is a somewhat curious one. On the one hand, you can sort of understand the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to dealing with ‘waste’ by burying it away in landfill – it is after all the relatively easy option. On the other, it’s hard to comprehend why we expend so much time and energy extracting raw materials and manufacturing new products just to bury them again shortly afterwards. As well as that, of course, there’s the negative environmental impacts of taking the landfill approach, including pollutants leaching into the environment and the build-up of climate altering gases, including methane.
If someone asked you to take all your business’ machinery and equipment and bury it outside you’d think they were mad, but that in a nutshell is all too often our approach to material that we should be considering as resources, we bury them away without realising their value.
Here at CDEnviro, we believe that a drastically different approach is required and that zero waste is an achievable target. The way to make that happen is to stop thinking in terms of waste and to start concentrating on resources. This includes even the most unpromising material, such as road sweepings, glass, automotive shredder residue and even waste water.
With new screening and sorting technology making resource recovery more efficient and effective than ever, the old saying ‘where there’s muck, there’s brass’ has never been more true, resources really are everywhere. Whether material is recovered for reuse, recycling or energy from waste there is value to be achieved and savings on landfill taxes, as well as production costs.
Glass, for example, is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality, strength or functionality and less energy is needed to melt and reform recycled glass than to melt down raw materials and start from scratch. One recycled glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes. Previously problems with impurities have limited its recycling potential, but newer systems are able to cope with this issue and produce high quality outputs.
Grit from a variety of sources can also be recovered using new screening processes and having been extracted from material, rather than damaging machinery causing unnecessary downtime, it can be resold as aggregate.
A solution that’s right for you
Whatever industry you work in, or materials you deal with, newly developed sorting and screening systems can help. They don’t have to have a huge physical or environmental footprint either. Some options fit on the back of a single lorry and modular options are available to suit exact needs.
We know there’s a long way to go, and it will take global co-operation to make it happen, but turning today’s waste products into tomorrow’s assets is achievable if we work together.