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Home > Garbage And Recycling > Products Made From Garbage

Garbage and Recycling: Products Made From Garbage

Garbage Flow Chart
 Here we discuss products made from materials normally thought of as waste. These products fulfill there purpose well, and sometimes, better than products made from virgin materials. 


Energy From Incineration:

Almost 12% (29 million tons) of our municipal waste was incinerated in 2010. World wide it is very common for incinerators to process a lot of material waste set for the land fill. These plants produce a lot of energy and do it the old fashioned way. The heat from the incineration makes steam which turns the turbines for power.
     The best estimate we have is that the 29 million tons of waste would have generated 16 billion KwHr of power and reduced the amount going into the land fill to about 4 million tons.
     A waste to energy plant is not like having a burn barrel in the back yard (we have all smelt one of those). The waste is burnt at a very high temperature so that there is little ash. The gasses and particulates are put through filters and scrubbers.
viena incinerator There are plenty of arguments for and against waste to energy. We will let you read them in our references below. However, they may be unnecessary if we recycle almost everything. If we do that, less energy may be required to manufacture products.
     Likewise, if we conserve electricity we may put a lot of power plants out of business. Would these power plants go in that scenario? Maybe. However, it is probably best if the plants that make the most waste for us be shut down first.

Methane From Landfills:

It seems like this product was accidentally discovered a while back. Homes were built on top of an old landfills and they started to have dangerous build ups of methane gas. This has caused some problems for people and the environment. 
     Landfill gas is 40-60% methane, some carbon dioxide and several other minor components (depending on the mix of waste in the landfill). At first the solution was to drill holes into the landfill below and put in pipes to vent the gasses. They next set up monitoring of the gasses to see if there were dangerous levels of methane and any other gasses (VOC's).
     Now, all landfills are required to monitor the gasses coming out at least 30 years after closer. Some will also burn (flare) the gasses to break down the Methane.
     Why 30 years? Since landfills are "dry tombs" the break down of the materials is slow (no oxygen and little moisture). Most of the break down of the methane producing materials will occur in that period of time. The land is considered "stable" after that period even though materials are still breaking down.
New projects: Bioreactor
Many (about 600) landfills are gas-to-energy type of landfill. The gasses coming out of them are monitored and burnt to create heat for energy production. However, it still takes 2 or 3 decades to "harvest" the gas economically.

bioreactor Enter the Bioreactor.  This landfill system is one of accelerated decay of the material in the waste. Water and oxygen is pumped into the top of the pile and the "leachate" is sucked up from the bottom. This water/oxygen/leachate is circulated through the landfill. This makes the materials break down faster and the yield of methane gas larger. The ground can be "stabilized" in under a decade (according to some calculations). Therefore, the land may need to be monitored and released for a much shorter period of time.

Here is a link to the EPA projects currently underway using Bioreactor technology.

Counter Tops:

Sustainable, reusable and recycled are all good choices for counter tops. There are many great choices, that look sharp and are less expensive than mining virgin material (marble or slate).
     Some choices are: compressed recycled paper, recycled glass, old wooden doors, HDPE (#2) plastics, recycled aluminum or steel and several more. They look great and some can even be colored several times to match decor.
      When they come to the end of their life, they can find new life in another home or themselves be recycled.
These days there are many eco-friendly alternatives we can not cover them in this little area.

More details about these types of counter tops can be found at:

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