Industrial Recycling a Must for a Healthy Canadian Environment
As Canadians we are usually proud of living in a modern industrial society and the things we have achieved in the world. It is our right and privilege. No one can deprive us of it. However, we also have the duty of protecting our community from the negative effects of our industrial waste on environment. It is time for people to raise their own awareness of the evil effects of industrial waste on the environment not only in our country but also on the worldwide scale.
It is estimated that we create more than 15 million tons of waste that is released in to the environment each year but only 200,000 tons are collected, transported and treated. About 70% of 1 million m3 sewage waste per day from industrial areas is directly disposed into water sources without treatment. Fifty seven percent of industrial zones lack proper waste processing systems. That’s more than half our manufacturing facilities without adequate disposal plans or capacity. Obviously, our environment pollution situation is hit an alarming stage.
There are three main consequences if we do not act on this dire predicament we have put ourselves in for our environment. In the first place, industrial waste causes air pollution. Solid and gaseous waste can pollute the air. Using fossil fuels such as gas, coal and oil to create electricity for power industries and manufacturing operations can produce toxic chemicals that are generated to the air through chimneys and exhaust pipes. Most of air pollutants include CO, SO2, etc. These chemicals increase the risks of suffering from cancer, lower respiratory systems and immunity. Worse still, they can cause ozone depletion and global warming. Next, water can be contaminated from pollutants entering the water sources from waste industries. Oil refinery, winery and dairy farms drop their waste directly into the lakes, rivers and seas without treatment which makes water sources full of chemicals that turns our water black. Water pollution poisons drinking water, damages the habitats of marine animals and neutralizes irrigation systems of agriculture. If people could not drink contaminated water, neither can fish, crab and other animals can’t live in those dirty habitats and agriculture is in a dire shortage of fresh water because of it. As a result, some animals and creatures can’t exist anymore as the habitat to support them is missing. More than that, steam containing high amounts of SO2, NO2 from contaminated lakes and rivers will recycle as it falls as acid rain that can cause forest fires and many diseases for people and animals. Even, black rivers and lakes worsen the natural beauty of our planet. Naturally, tourists will not want to travel a country which is seriously polluted and businesses will suffer.
Last but not least, industrial waste can result in soil pollution. Soil pollution is defined as soil contaminated with liquid and solid toxic waste. Waste products from manufacturing, oil from storage tanks, lead from paints and fuel spills are the main reason causing soil pollution. Pollutants in soil lessen the quality of soil, make them not arable. Besides, soil pollution may be hazardous to children’s brain, give people headaches and eye irritation.
In brief, the effects of industrial waste on environment are very great. Industrial waste causes air, soil and water pollution that are very harmful to people’s health. People should spend their time learning about effects of industrial waste on environment and then find out solutions to limit these consequences before it is too late.
Industrial recycling is one of the answers for our environmental problems. Recycling is not a modern industry. It has been in practice since humankind first learned to smelt copper (around 9,000 BC) when melting and reforming a broken tool was far simpler than processing the ore for a new one.
Recycling is sustainable development; recycling used materials and products reduces greenhouse gases, uses significantly less energy, maximizes the use of finite natural resources, and diverts material from landfills. Recycled metals offer particular environmental benefits compared to mining virgin material, and because metals do not degrade during the recycling process, they are infinitely recyclable.
Industrial recycling is not only for end users but also for manufacturers. Designing and manufacturing products that can be safely and efficiently recycled at the end of their useful lives involves selecting materials that are already recycled (creating the necessary market demand) and that are recyclable. Design for Recycling means reducing the number of different materials in a product, examining how parts are joined, and avoiding parts that combine incompatible materials (such as plastics and metals), or ensuring these different materials are easy to separate. It means eliminating hazardous and toxic material wherever possible, marking the components, and anticipating a product’s disassembly and parts removal.
Manufacturers should be designing products that can be recycled safely and economically, using existing recycling technologies and methods. Removing toxic or hazardous materials and increasing a product’s recyclable materials will increase recyclability and limit a product’s potential waste. Programs like the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries’ Design for Recycling award are working to promote this idea.
The Economics of Industrial Recycling
Industrial recycling is not only good for the environment but also serves as a prime mover of the economy. Recycling used materials and products is paramount for Canadian business and the economy. Research has shown the recycling industry creates 10 times more employment and revenue than the waste industry. An informal survey by CARI (Canadian Association of Recycling Industry) concluded it directly employs approximately 34,000 Canadian workers, and indirectly creates jobs for approximately 85,000 Canadians. In 2010 Canadian recyclers exported approximately 5.9 million tonnes of metal, valued at $3.6 billion (CAD). Studies from Europe, the U.S. and Canada all show the same results: the recycling industry generates jobs and boosts the economy. Using recycled material helps manufacturers reduce production costs and makes them more competitive. The industry drives the innovation of new technologies and products, which is vital to economic growth.
A 2011 Earnings Jobs & Innovation Report produced by the European Environment Agency (EEA) concluded that the importance of the recycling industry to the European economy was continuing to increase despite the world economic downturn. As in Canada and the U.S., jobs generated directly by the recycling industry range from low- to high-skill and often pay above minimum wage. The EEA report found that employment related to recycling was also steadily increasing, and that recycling a tonne of waste “will pay $101 (USD) more in salaries and wages than disposing of it in a landfill.”
Today recycling companies are part of a sophisticated worldwide commodity sector driven by basic supply and demand. Currently about 45% of the world’s annual production of steel, over 40% of the world’s copper production, and about 33% of the world’s aluminum is produced from recycled material. Canadian recyclers process between 16 and 18 million tonnes of scrap metal each year. Metals still make up the largest part of the recycling market, but new materials like plastics and electronics are gaining ground.
Scrap materials are not waste. Waste is a problem, but recyclable material is a resource. Governments and policy makers around the world continue to make the fundamental error of classifying recyclable material as waste. Scrap is a commodity manufactured by scrap processors that meets internationally recognized specifications. This material has value to processors and consumers, so it is not discarded or disposed. Defining recycled material as waste creates undue regulations in the transportation, trade, and processing of these materials.
Thanks to its extensive composting and recycling facilities, the city of Edmonton, Canada is already diverting approximately 60 percent of its municipal waste from the landfill. That figure is expected to rise to 90 percent, however, once the city’s new Waste-to-Biofuels and Chemicals Facility starts converting garbage (that can’t be composted or recycled) into methanol and ethanol. It’s the world’s first such plant to operate on an industrial scale. To watch the video about Edmonton’s industrial recycling facility here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKKweSAm1Ks