Solar recycling – a looming problem with a European solution

The price of solar panels continues to drop – down 86 percent since 2009! That means having solar is more affordable than ever and with solar leasing options growing and now California mandating all new construction must include solar, its use is set to explode.

But as I’ve noted before, every solution presents new problems which must be addressed. Solar panels have been rated for a 25-year lifespan. Although they will continue to function after that – many solar panels installed in the 1980’s still function close to their original levels – ultimately they will lose efficiency and at some point need to be replaced. The looming issue here is what to do with those solar panels?

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San Francisco’s recycling center gets a upgrade in time for the holidays

Recology logoSan Francisco is known for many things, the Golden Gate Bridge among them. But its San Francisco’s recycling efforts that have brought this amazing city into the national spotlight.

In 2002, the City by the Bay passed legislation that set a goal of  diverting 75 percent of its waste from landfills by 2010 and achieving “zero waste” by 2020. And so began its composting and food waste collection program.

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Modified wood product aims to save hardwood forests from the axe

 

Australia's famed hardwood tree - the Eucalyptus obliqua - could be spared in favor of 3Wood

Australia’s famed hardwood tree – the Eucalyptus obliqua – could be spared in favor of 3Wood

Waste is a terrible thing, particularly when it comes to the use of hardwood trees. The World Wildlife Fund says that about 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year. That’s a huge amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from deforestation.

David Lewis, Australia’s Flinders Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology (CNST) Director and co-developer,  says “if you take a big tree, only a small percentage of that becomes hardwood; the rest is chipped and burned.”

But there’s hope on the horizon.

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States with the most Producer Responsibility laws

Extended Producer Responsibliity graphic

If you’re not familiar with the phrase Extended Producer Responsibility, it’s time to learn.

EPR is the larger picture of what’s necessary and what’s possible going well beyond recycling. It requires manufacturers to be accountable for the products they produce – its complete life cycle from beginning to its final and responsible disposal. It’s a way to dramatically reduce what goes into our landfills and increase the amount of waste that gets recycled and/or reused.

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Corporations learning the real value of materials recycling

Reduce-Reuse-RecycleLarge corporations are beginning to get that recycling – the 2nd of the “3 R’s” – can really pay back. With the launch of the new National Materials Marketplace, more than 20 companies with U.S.-based operations are avoiding waste by turning it into raw materials for other companies’ use.

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How landfill waste inspired a symphony

Landfill waste turned into musical instruments for Recology's musical artist / composer Nathaniel Stookey

Landfill waste turned into musical instruments for Recology’s musical artist / composer Nathaniel Stookey

Music is the universal language. It soothes humans and animals alike. Its beauty inspires us, lifts us up. But what inspires composers to write their music?

Perhaps the last answer you’d ever consider would be trash. Yet that’s exactly what inspired composer Nathaniel Stookey to write his symphony, aptly named Junkestra.

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Make Art, Not Landfill: Recology’s Artist in Residence Program Turns 25

Carnival Masks by Dana Albany are featured in the Recology exhibit

Carnival Masks by Dana Albany – made of wood, recycled paint and objects found at the landfill – were featured in a Recology exhibit at San Francisco Airport in 2013

25 years is an amazing anniversary to reach, but even more so for anything related to art made from landfill waste. If that statement doesn’t make sense to you, you don’t know about Recology and/or its Artist in Residence program, which turns 25 this year.

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