Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling

LONDON — Ever since China announced last year that it no longer wanted to be the “world’s garbage dump,” recycling about half of the globe’s plastics and paper products, Western nations have been puzzling over what to do when the ban went into effect, which it did on Jan. 1.

The answer, to date, in Britain at least, is nothing. At least one waste disposal site in London is already seeing a buildup of plastic recyclables and has had to pay to have some of it removed.

Similar backups have been reported in Canada, Ireland, Germany and several other European nations, while tons of rubbish is piling up in port cities like Hong Kong.

Steve Frank, of Pioneer Recycling in Oregon, owns two plants that collect and sort 220,000 tons of recyclable materials each year. A majority of it was until recently exported to China.

“My inventory is out of control,” he said.

China’s ban, Mr. Frank said, has caused “a major upset of the flow of global recyclables.” Now, he said, he is hoping to export waste to countries like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia — “anywhere we can” — but “they can’t make up the difference.”

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I heard a rumor that you can build roads with recycled plastic. Is that true? Why can't we do that?

I haven't heard of using plastic for roadbeds, but will look into it.  When I lived in N.E. Oregon a Highway along the Columbia river gorge that was made partially with shredded tires spontaneously combusted causing a lare fire. It was probably above 110 degrees F. whan that happened. That may have been a rumor.

Here's a link to an article about solar roadways.

We are using fossil fuels as the primary source of energy to run our Industrial Civilization. But we are paying a heavy price for using fossil fuels in the form of environmental damages. Now, we know that fossil fuels and natural gases are not going to last forever. This will lead us into big problems. We can’t go back to life of the 18th century. We can’t shut down our industrial units and means of transport and communications. Many are worried about the impending situation and thinking of solutions.

An Idaho-based company called Solar Roadways has been attempting to solve this energy crisis in its distinctive way. According to Scott Brusaw of Solar Roadways we can counter the energy crisis by adopting a unique method. We can construct Solar Roadways! We can convert 25,000 miles of petroleum-based asphalt highways and byways of the lower 48 states into Solar Roadways! Similar results can be achieved with the parking lots, airports, malls, stadiums and driveways!

The good news is they are getting universities and research labs interested in their venture. This company is also working on a 45-mile prototype between Coeur D’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho. By now we can gauge that this project is not cheap. But Scott said four companies have expressed interest in this project. Electrical engineer by profession, and also the founder of the company, he believes that if the US Interstate Highway system can be exchanged with his system with a solar cell efficiency of 10 percent, it could power the whole country.

These Solar Road Panels will generate and restore energy for our homes and businesses. The added side effect will be a fifty percent cut in the greenhouse gases. Scott envisions about the interconnected and intelligent multiple Solar Road Panels. He predicts a future where interstate highways, state routes, downtown streets, residential streets, or plain dirt or gravel country roads will be having Solar Road Panels catering to the energy needs of homes or business units. Scott’s Solar Roadway will be an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized (secure) power grid.

So how can be this Solar Roadways constructed? It will be a three layer system. The surface layer will be tough enough to bear the onslaught of weather and vehicles. The upper layer will be translucent and hence will be able to let the sunlight pass by. The middle layer will consist of large array of solar collecting cells. These cells will also store solar energy for later use. This middle electronic layer will be fitted with microprocessors that will control lighting, communications, monitoring etc. The third base layer will distribute power collected by the electronics layer to the units connected to the Solar Roadways. On top of that they will also distribute data signals such as phone, TV, Internet to homes and offices.

If this project can be implemented, it will be greatly beneficial. This system will eliminate the need of centralized power systems. Roads will be acting as power grids. This power system will go without poles, relay stations and transformers. This system can’t be shut down by any extremists or power company. This system will reduce the dependency on foreign oil.

Solar Roadways will facilitate the use of electric cars too. A major problem of electric cars is their refueling or recharging. Since Solar Roadways will have plenty of electricity charging of electric cars won’t pose any major problems. This will make cross country tour with electric car feasible.

Replacement of “normal” roads with Solar Roadways will generate green color jobs and give a required push to solar manufacturing industry. Another added benefit will be safety of drivers and wildlife. Since the roads will be intelligent roads they can warn drivers of impending dangers and wild animals venturing on the roads thus reducing the number of road accidents. Drivers can even be cautioned about the potentially dangerous drivers! The image below depicts an area in England where solar road studs light up the lines on the road and according to a recent study they have reduced night time accidents by 70%.

The Netherlands has laid the world’s first solar road – we go eyes-... By Joel Hruska on November 17, 2014

Earlier this week, the first solar roadway opened in Amsterdam — a 70-meter stretch of cycle path between two suburbs of the city that generates solar power from rugged, textured glass-covered photovoltaic cells. My significant other, Jessica Hall, happens to be spending a semester in Amsterdam and was willing to trek out to the Krommenie-Wormerveer cross-connection to see this solar roadway in action.

Below, we’ll answer some common questions people have raised about the projects and the road itself. One thing to know about the Netherlands is that biking is huge there, despite the wet, maritime climate. Building a solar bike path isn’t a throwaway gesture as it is in the United States, and the bike path itself, as you’ll see, is laned like a modern road. This project is built by SolaRoad — it’s different from the crowdfunded Solar Roadways project that we wrote about earlier this year.

Solar road -- long view

More about the Netherlands project here

Thanks for the info. I have heard of solar roadways, but that was years ago. I had forgotten about it till now. I love the idea. Can even melt ice and snow using battery power or power grid power. I'm all for it.

Porous roadways are another interesting subject.

Porus Asphalt

Porous asphalt pavements are being used successfully throughout the United States, in every type of climate and geography. They are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as a best practice for stormwater management, but we like them because few pavements are giving back more to the planet, making porous asphalt road royalty.

A solution for pollution
Scientists and engineers who observe the complicated relationship between water and roadways have long understood the need for a sustainable method to simulate the natural filtration process occurring outside populated areas.

Rainfall is supposed to sink naturally into soil, filter down through it, and eventually find its way to streams, ponds and lakes. In urban or other high-population areas, rainfall becomes what is called “runoff” and can contribute to flooding on roads and parking lots. Contaminants such as oils and minerals are then washed from surfaces directly into waterways without undergoing the filtration that nature intended.

Porous asphalt is an all-natural material using rocks glued together with asphalt cement, like most standard roads, but with one difference. The secret to this mix is “less is more” because manufacturers withhold the small (fine) aggregate so the remaining large particles leave open spaces that allow water to flow through it. Under this porous asphalt pavement surface is a “recharge bed” built of stones with spaces between them. Rainwater sinks through the pavement surface into the recharge bed, where it is retained until it can slowly filter out into the earth. Just like in your home water filter, the water comes out a little better than when it went in.

More than one way to get porous
When city planners speak of porous asphalt, they often mean the full-depth porous parking lots that are part of the most up-to-date stormwater treatment systems.

Highway engineers also use the same porous asphalt surface on superhighways – but instead of putting it over a stone recharge bed, they put a thin layer of it on top of a conventional road base. Rainwater sinks directly into the surface, then hits the impervious base. This forces the water to drain off to the sides. Even in a driving rainstorm, splash and spray from trucks disappears. Visibility for drivers is so much better that crashes and fatalities can be greatly reduced. Although they are thin, these porous asphalt surfacings also improve water quality.

Safer road surfaces for wintery climates
The only foolproof way to be safe when roads are covered with standing rainwater, ice, or snow is to stay at home. But if you have to leave, you will appreciate the benefits of the king of pavements, especially in the cooler climates where snow is measured in feet and not inches.

Porous pavements show significant reduction in the need for deicing and anti-icing practices common in the north. So while we all enjoy a clear, slip-free road that anti-icing agents can provide, the effects of these chloride-laden treatments are toxic to aquatic life, can degrade drinking water supplies, and cannot be reduced from runoff by treatment with another substance.

Because snow and ice melt faster on porous asphalt (nothing to freeze when the water is beneath the asphalt), less salt is needed to clear roads and parking lots.  This benefit is significant both in the potential economic savings for winter maintenance and the environment.


Reduced costs for greener solutions
On a yard-by-yard basis, the asphalt cost is approximately the same as the cost of conventional asphalt. The underlying stone bed where the water filters through is usually thicker, and therefore more expensive, than a conventional one, but this cost difference is generally offset by the significant reduction in stormwater pipes and inlets we’re used to building. Because porous pavement is designed to “fit into” the topography of a site, there is generally less digging into the Earth.

At Walden Pond
Since the 1960s when the concept of porous pavement was proposed to “promote percolation, reduce storm sewer loads, reduce floods, raise water tables, and replenish aquifers” the concept has been discussed and refined.

The concept and application was so appealing that in 1977 the Walden Pond State Reservation in Massachusetts used the material for the parking lot of their visitor center. Since that time it has raised the local water table while reducing erosion, pollution, and the need for storm drains or road salt. They continue to use porous asphalt today to protect a site that serves as one of our most treasured literary muses—Walden Pond.

So cool. I wonder if porous asphalt and solar roadways can be married?

The Department of Energy Oakridge TN is working on technology to charge battery powered vehicals without the need to plug  in.

I suppose it would be called proximity charging.  

I have a sonic care toothbrush that recharges in a cradle.  This technology shouldn't be difficult to expand.

The DOE is studying how to charge battery powered cars as they are driven along roadways.

Marry the three.   Another is to have roadways with imbedded lights so overhead lights, reflectors and etcetera aren't needed. Yet another is to have roadways that melt ice.

There is a 12 mile section of road in central Oregon that had more traffic accidents and fatalities than any other part of the state because the road temperature was just right to cause ice slicks. The Oregon Department of Transportation embedded heat tape in that section of road to eliminate the problem. The last I read the experiment went well. 

All of this is doable.  


No need to plug in that car; it's getting charged by the manhole covers

Katherine Ling, E&E reporter

Greenwire: Friday, November 1, 2013

Drifting off to sleep, you wake with a jolt: You forgot to plug in your electric car.

Relax. You have wireless charging. Your car started to replenish power when you parked it over the charging pad in your garage.

It's not a dream. Wireless charging for electric cars is coming faster than most experts predicted.

Wireless charging technology can already be found at the homes of Google Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. employees; embedded in Pepsi trucks and on buses in Long Beach, Calif.; and disguised as manhole covers in New York City. HEVO Power, which is conducting the manhole pilot with New York University, has even developed an app to help find vacant wireless-charging parking spots and ensure correct alignment over the charger.

The U.S. pilots are among a dozen or so wireless projects scattered around the world -- in Germany, Italy, China, South Korea, Japan, England and Singapore (see sidebar).

And it's going to make an appearance next year at the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's electric version of the Formula One race circuit -- albeit on the safety cars -- using charging technology from San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc.

Developers dream of wireless charging spots at traffic lights, taxi stands and parking spaces -- even in the street -- where cars can sip a charge on the go.

"Dynamic" wireless charging is already being publicly tested on two electric buses being charged by cable strips embedded in a 15-mile stretch of road between the train station and downtown Gumi, South Korea, a city of 341,000 people south of Seoul, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) announced in August.

To be sure, widespread wireless charging is far from around the corner. With retrofitting a passenger car with wireless charging carrying a $3,000 price tag, it's still three to six times more expensive than installing a conventional plug-in charger. And the issue of the best bandwidth to transmit on and other standards, as well as long-term implications of safety and health of prolonged exposure to the magnetic fields, still need a lot more study. Dynamic charging also must overcome the expense of tearing up roads to embed cables.

"There is real value to it, but we definitely see it having slow growth initially because of the initial price premium," said Lisa Jerram, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. "And it is not that critical, as we have plug-in chargers."

But dynamic wireless charging technology has some big advantages. For one, it lets a car manufacturer shrink the battery: "a trade-off with the battery size," Jerram said, "that is a great value proposition if you can get there."

The battery in the South Korean buses, for example, is only a third the size of the current battery on a passenger electric vehicle, KAIST said.

Regular EV batteries are big -- and expensive. Car manufacturers are struggling with how to keep cost and expense down to reach the high mileage per charge -- the "range" -- that consumers want. Poll after poll shows "range anxiety" -- fear of running out of juice in the middle of nowhere -- is the main reason car buyers keep their distance from plug-ins.

So there's a lot of research going into new battery chemistries, sensors and systems to solve that problem.

Analysts foresee battery prices sinking about 7 percent a year through 2020, when some experts see the electric car finally competing head to head on price in the market without subsidies. Tesla Motors Inc. founder Elon Musk said earlier this year he thinks his car company could develop an EV for the mass market in three or four years.

But will there be a breakthrough in the meantime that will make electric vehicles more appealing? Wireless-charge boosters are hoping their technology will be the game changer.

Convenience counts -- for a lot

More here

So that's probably why my city stopped taking plastic in the recycle bins.

Which multinational garbage company does your city contract with?

What is the city telling customers?

Are you being told to thow all plastic in the garbage? Is plastic along with other refuse going to be sent to a land fill?

Intermittintely for a number of years I called the garbage company and asked how I could presort it and was told don't worry about it. 

I also communicated with the city asking about sorting recyclables. That was ignored.

In the early days of recycling for city contracted garbage service residents presorted recyclables.

I would laugh if not cry because of the history of the Mafia's control of garbage disposal.

China's refusal to accept recyclables was predictable and should have been expected.

Where the plastic goes is a wash.

I don't know who my city contracts with.  Plastics they don't recycle are put in the land fill.  They do recycle "Some Plastics—beverage, food, and household cleaner containers marked #1 PET or #2 HDPE that have been rinsed and had their caps securely in place (NO plastic bags)"




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