Redefining the meaning of ‘waste’

Instead of fighting over the expansion of landfill sites, it is time to start a much more interesting conversation about how we create a world without landfills. In The Sustainable Hour on 4 June 2014 on 94.7 The Pulse we talked about how we can build our own houses from recycled materials and about how our waste can be used productively as a resource rather than something to hide in the ground.

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Guests in the studio:
Rachel Goldlust, Earthship Australia
Erwin Boermans, energy specialist, Comfort ID

Live phone interview:
David Holmgren, environmental designer, ecological educator and permaculture writer

Audio clip:
Jeffrey Sachs, economist, UN advisor, professor


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 28:

» To open or download this programme in mp3-format, right-click here (Mac: CTRL + click)


» Subscribe to ‘The Sustainable Hour’ podcast — via iTunes or via your own podcast/RSS software


Erwin Boerman shows a little sample of an insulated water pipe
Erwin Boerman shows a little sample of an insulated water pipe
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Visuals of the new Amager Bakke power plant in Copenhagen

There are smarter ways to deal with our waste

Instead of fighting over the expansion of landfill sites, it is time to start a much more interesting conversation about how we create a world without landfills.

Our waste can be used productively as a resource rather than something to hide in the ground. Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands have developed a variety of technologies that takes in municipal wastes and turns it into electricity or biogas, or into heating energy which is distributed to residential areas in water pipes.

Waste-to-energy plants play an important role in the environmentally sound treatment of waste and in improving Europe’s energy efficiency. It is becoming the preferred method of rubbish disposal in the EU with waste from 70 million households being transported to over 470 plants equipped to provide heat and electricity to more than 20 million Europeans.

In Copenhagen, waste-to-energy has taken a new twist. Architects have designed the roof of the new ‘Amager Bakke’ (Amager Hill) incinerator to include a ski slope. Local residents can take an elevator to the roof, and ski back down to the bottom – all year round. During the summer, they can also walk, cycle, climb the world’s tallest climbing wall, or simply enjoy the view from 80 metres above the ground. All sitting above the waste-to-energy plant quietly taking in the city’s waste to produce energy to heat homes and power businesses.

Imagine such a smart integrated facility in Ravenhall. A ski slope, mountain biking track and climbing wall could be a major drawcard for the area as our population moves further north and west in Melbourne.

On Monday 26 May, Melton councillors voted against a proposed expansion of the Boral Ravenhall landfill site, at the western-fringe of Melbourne, spurred on by local community concerns over smell, flying litter and concerns over the future development of the area.

Instead of talking ‘rubbish-to-landfill’, we should be talking ‘waste-to-energy’ opportunities, combined with better sorting of garbage and increased recycling, reuse and repairs. Waste-to-energy achieves a negative emissions production by generating renewable energy and reduces the release of emissions with high global warming potential.

Anaerobic digestion works a bit like beer brewing, using the natural chemicals in organic waste – food scraps, sewerage, agricultural waste – to turn into biogas. Not only does it reduce the rubbish going into landfill and produce valuable energy, it reduces the amount of harmful emissions going into the atmosphere, like Nitrous Oxide which is 310 times more harmful for our atmosphere than Carbon.

Pyrolysis uses electricity to extract the useful energy from waste, creating biogases such as methane and hydrogen. In Denmark, they are building so much wind, that when there is excess renewable electricity, it is used to create biogas. By 2035, Denmark’s electricity will be 100 per cent renewable, by using biogas generation to meet peak demands when other renewable generation is low.

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Amager Bakke – close-up

Insulated thermal-, biogas- and CO2-pipe networks are common in more than 5,000 districts around the world. The technology is available, we just need some leadership and vision to unlock community and business opportunities.

Related information and inspiration:

DistrictEnergy.org – 18 July 2014:
US could meet 12% of electricity demand from municipal waste
A new study from Columbia University’s Earth Engineering Center estimates that the energy contained in municipal solid waste across the U.S. represents a fuel value that could produce enough electricity to meet 12% of the nation’s electrical demand. The study is entitled “2014 Energy and Economic Value of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), Including Non-recycled Plastics (NRP), Currently Landfilled in the Fifty States”

» National Geographic – 1 August 2013:
Urban Ski Slope to Raise Profile of Europe’s Waste-to-Energy Drive
Copenhagen, with a waterfront already famous for bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, and offshore wind turbines, is adding another clean energy feature to its urban landscape: a ski resort

“If Brazil sent all solid waste to sanitary landfills where methane gas collection and biogas produced electricity, it could create 44,000 new jobs and increase national GDP by over $13.3 billion.”
The World Bank



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Recycling in Geelong

If you live in Geelong, remember to carry your recycling loose to the bin. Don’t put it in plastic bags. For safety reasons, staff at the recycling facility will not open plastic bags, no matter what the contents are. So anything in plastic bags will end up in landfill.

Plastics bags along with clothing and footwear are the most common items mistakenly placed in the recycling bin.

» Refresh your memory and find out what items can go in the  recycling bin.

Composting to reduce carbon footprint

Approximately half of the rubbish Australians put in the everyday mixed-waste ‘garbage bin’ could be put to better use in the garden as compost and mulch or could be returned to agricultural land to improve soil quality. Around 33% of the rubbish is food organics, including peelings, and about 10% is garden vegetation.

Alarmingly, such a huge amount of organically-active material buried ‘anaerobically’ (without air) in landfill causes over 3% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions annually through the production of methane gas which has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

» Learn more on  www.compostweek.com.au


Council News about waste in Geelong

Give unwanted goods a second life
Do you want to get rid of an old fridge, couch or washing machine that is still in good nick?

Garage sales divert material from landfill
Each week there are hundreds of garage sales in the Geelong area. These weekly events are responsible for moving vast amounts of items to new homes.

Free Stuff provides easy reuse option
Each week a diverse range of furniture items and odds and ends find a new home though the Free Stuff column.

Dumping is a crime
Dumped rubbish is estimated to costs the community more than $250,000 to clean up the municipality annually.

Drop off household recycling for free
Household items that normally go in the recycling bin (yellow lid bin) can be dropped off at our Resource Recovery Centres.

Clothing wears out welcome
Recent truck audits indicate that plastic bags, footwear and clothing are being placed in the recycling bin. This is the wrong bin.

Students attendance soar in term one
The Barwon Waste Wise Education Centre has experienced a sharp increase in the number of students visiting in term one.



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Fundraiser: Litter Fighting Fund

Despite more than 45 years of campaigning, shocking statistics have revealed that too many people are still littering, with Australians dumping almost 48 million litres of litter each year.

In response Keep Australia Beautiful have launched the Litter Fighting Fund where all Australians can donate to directly fund litter reduction programs.

“Litter is one of the most serious environmental issues we face and we need a stronger army to battle it,” writes the campaigners.

» Continue reading on:  www.litterfightingfund.org.au



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$815,000 to increase recycling in Geelong

Grants to increase recycling in Geelong region
Residents in the Geelong region are being encouraged to recycle more when out and about, with 30 new public place recycling bins to be installed in the Geelong region. The Victorian Coalition Government has committed $815,000 as part of its program to increase recycling in the Geelong region. By Andrew Katos



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Factory-Magazine special theme: Separating

The fourth English issue of “factory – Magazine for Sustainable Economy”, is titled ‘Separating’.

» The magazine Separating is freely available and ready for download.

Some of the articles are online for commenting.

More Gold in Waste than in Mines
The art of separation
Analysing Separately – Thinking and Acting Together!
Meerwasser minus Salz. Trennen fürs Trinkwasser.
Tausche Handy gegen großes Menü
Let’s Break Away from Determined Breaking Points

Files:
factory_5_separating.pdf [4.8 M]



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Surf Coast Times - 26 June 2014
Surf Coast Times – 26 June 2014



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Interview with co-founder of the Permaculture movement David Holmgren

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Article in Geelong Advertiser on the same day

World-leading environmental designer, ecological educator and writer David Holmgren is coming to Lara for a very special half-day workshop on 13 July 2014 to help empower sustainable thinkers of the Geelong Region. The workshop will be held at Creative Collectives

» More info: www.creativecollectives.org/david-holmgren-workshop

This weekend Creative Collectives also host its monthly three-day Self-Sufficiency Workshop Weekend with a variety of teachers – but this is already sold out.

In June Creative Collectives hosts a Family Workshop Weekend with “Fun on the farm for kids and adults”.

» Tickets are on sale now:  www.creativecollectives.org/workshops



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Professor Jeffrey Sachs, economist, UN advisor

Time Magazine says he is the world’s best known economist. He was in Australia two weeks ago to give both government and business a wake up call on sustainable development.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs is a senior United Nations advisor and has advised many governments on economic reform. He is also a best selling author.

» Jeffrey Sachs spoke to Ticky Fullerton on ABC – and you can see the extended 18-minute interview on  www.abc.net.au/news

The quote we played in The Sustainable Hour is found at 6:12 to 6:39.

» Prof Jeffrey Sachs launches Pathways to Prosperity in 2050

ClimateWorks Australia and Australian National University lead global 2050 Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project. The project draws on research and analysis from 13 participating country teams, which collectively represents more than 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Working within a coordinated framework, each country will explore the potential to achieve deep decarbonisation, while maintaining economic prosperity, with the goal of limiting a global temperature rise of 2° Celsius.



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Earthship Biotecture – A 2011 Overview



Topics we also talked about this week

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Article in Geelong Advertiser on 4 June 2014:

Geelong Budget unacceptable

Budget_Ady_04June2014_200City of Greater Geelong draft budget decreases the funding for Future Proofing Geelong, there is no additional funding to implement the Principle Bicycle Network and no funding allocated to implement the Environmental Management Strategy.

You can help Geelong Sustainability Group speaking up about that this needs to be corrected – that it is a wrong priority for a mayor and a council that say they wish to make Geelong more liveable, attract tourists and create new jobs.

Have your say
Send an email to Council opposing the City of Greater Geelong’s 2014-2015 Proposed Budget. Deadline for submissions is 5pm, Tuesday, 10 June 2014.

Submissions can be emailed to contactus@geelongcity.vic.gov.au and addressed ‘Att: Manager Financial Services – Budget Submission’.



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Renewable Energy Target Review Panel – walk-out

A delegation from Friends of the Earth walked out of a meeting with the panel which is reviewing the Renewable Energy Target, saying to the chairman of the panel:
“Mr Warburton, in light of your position and the inadequate responses that we’ve heard today, Friends of the Earth can only conclude that this review is not credible. It is compromised. With respect to the other organisations who are here today in good faith, Friends of the Earth will not be a party to a flawed process. Please excuse us.”

A new analysis from research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance: Scrapping or reducing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target would shelve $12-21 billion of investment in clean energy, cut 7,000-11,000 future jobs in wind and solar industries every year, lead to higher power prices for consumers and deliver power companies $6-12 billion of extra revenue from 2015 to 2020.

» Read more:  www.businessspectator.com.au



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CSIRO: Supercricital solar plant
CSIRO’s ‘supercricital’ solar plant

 

Supercritical solar – a new frontier for power generation

We need to add a new word in our personal dictionaries. This week the news came out that “Supercritical Solar” is destined to become a game-changer for the renewable energy industry.

An Australian solar thermal plant has produced the hottest and most pressurised steam ever using solar power. It is powerful enough to replace fossil fuels and drive the power plants of the future.

Here is how it works:

In emails and on Facebook, people have been raving about the Supercritical Solar breakthrough beause it brings solar thermal energy a step closer to cost competitiveness with fossil fuel generated power.

CSIRO’s Energy Director Dr Alex Wonhas said: “It’s like breaking the sound barrier; this step change proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources.”

» For more info, see:
www.sciencealert.com.au



Add to that last week’s other good news, such as:

Technology reducing cost of solar panels by half – production is still five years away, though.

RenewEconomy:  Solar costs to halve as gas prices surge

Trillion Fund:  Onshore wind now cheapest energy source in Europe, says utility
New report from one of Europe’s leading energy operators EDP

Renewables currently meet almost a quarter of world electricity consumption
Global renewable electricity energy capacity rose to a new record level last year — more than 1,560 gigawatts, up 8% from 2012. More than 22% of the world’s power production now comes from renewable sources.
Growing numbers of cities, states, and regions seek to transition to 100% renewable energy in either individual sectors or economy-wide. For example, Djibouti, Scotland, and the small-island state of Tuvalu aim to derive 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. In 2013, an estimated 6.5 million people worldwide worked directly or indirectly in the renewable energy sector.
This data was published in the new ‘Renewables 2014 Global Status Report’.

» The full report as well as the Key Findings can be downloaded at:
www.ren21.net/gsr

Official Danish research proves that 100% fossil fuel free future is feasable
The government in Denmark has written a carbon emission reduction target of 40% by 2020 into law. The scenarios shows the goal is possible with existing technologies and cheaper than expected.

» Media release:
www.ens.dk

» Summary of the research:
www.ens.dk/../energiscenarier_uk.pdf

» More links and info:
www.treealerts.org



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USA: 30 per cent less coal pollution from power plants

President Obama has unveiled ‘historic rules’ to reduce coal pollution from power plants by 30 per cent.

New EPA rules spur prospects for deal to end climate change. Climate groups welcome ‘momentous development’
.

“By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe, while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment – our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation and create jobs.”
~ Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator


“It’s the first time far-reaching regulatory action will set pollution standards for the largest single source of U.S. carbon emissions.”
Elaine Hsieh, Program Director & Senior Analyst, Verge



» Why clean tech will win big from U.S. regulations to cut carbon:  www.greenbiz.com

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Hottest two years in Australia’s recorded history

The last two years have been the hottest in Australia’s recorded history – from May 2012 to April 2014.

“Avoiding more extreme weather requires urgent and deep reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases. The decisions we make this decade will largely determine the severity of climate change and its influence on extreme events for our grandchildren.”

» The Climate Council:  www.climatecouncil.org.au/abnormalautumn



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“Scepticism is healthy, denial is dangerous, and intentionally dismantling the entire renewable energy industry of a country that is not only wealthy, sun blessed and windswept but also has the highest per capita CO2 emissions in the OECD is criminally reckless. Furthermore, it will cripple our future economic growth.”

“Given our abundant renewable resources, we should be leading the world in research and investment, instead Abbott would have us squander our competitive advantage and destroy massive economic potential.”
Ian Berryman, Australian student reading for a DPhil in engineering science at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom



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World Environment Day 2014

Every 5th of June is a day used by the United Nations to stimulate worldwide awareness of environmental issues and encourages political action.

It is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.
Each year, in support of United Nations World Environment Day, the United Nations Association of Australia recognises innovative and outstanding environmental programs and initiatives from across Australia and the important work of Australian environmental leaders through its World Environment Day Awards.

However, it is not clear if there are any activities taking place in Geelong area at all.

In 2013, the City of Greater Geelong celebrated World Environment Day and handed out a Green Achiever Award. Moolap Primary School joined City of Greater Geelong staff in a tree planting exercise where 1500 indigenous trees and shrubs were planted at Limeburners Point to enhance the coastal foreshore reserve.
The City’s World Environment Day celebrations also incorporated a green achiever award recognising staff who are implementing key environmental initiatives.

» Read more on:  www.geelongaustralia.com.au



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Over 24 sustainable hours of listening online

You can listen to all of the radio shows in full length as well as in selected excerpts. Use the links below. You will also find links to more information about the topics and sites that have been mentioned during the hour.

| Social streamHour no 28No 27No 26No 25No 24No 23No 22No 21No 20No 19No 18No 17No 16No 15No 14No 13No 12No 11No 10No 9No 8No 7No 6No 5No 4No 3No 2No 1 |

» Facebook:  Overview of all the programs




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