JOHANNESBURG SOUTH – The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) gives helpful tips and insight on what should be left out of the dustbin.
“There are various waste streams and most of them are appropriate for recycling. By seeing waste as a resource, we can help protect virgin materials and aim to create a circular economy where very little waste is generated,” says Prof Suzan Oelofse, President of the IWMSA.
A nifty website for all those interested in being environmentally friendly is MyWaste. Founder of MyWaste, Mark Gibson elaborates, “It all comes down to knowing the different waste materials and what should be done with it. The website enables residents to select the waste they want to recycle. ”We then provide them with a list of their nearest recyclers and buy-back centres in their area.”
Oelofse and Gibson explore the most common waste streams below and the best course of action to keep it out of landfill sites:
“Car batteries are recyclable. Alkaline batteries are not often recycled and should be disposed of as a hazardous material. The best option would be to switch to rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, which are widely recycled after their lifespan,” guides Gibson.
Oelofse states that nearly all cans and tins can be recycled. “These include: food cans, aluminium cans, paint tins, steel beverage cans, oil cans and aerosol cans. Just make sure that it is clean!”
Electronic waste (E-waste)
E-waste is anything that operates from a power source (electricity or batteries) and includes computers, phones, household appliances and light bulbs, to name a few. “E-waste contains hazardous materials such as mercury and should not be disposed of at landfill. A lot of supermarkets collect e-waste for recycling, such as old bulbs and batteries,” mentions Gibson.
Another common waste stream in the dustbin – food waste. Old scraps of food and even garden waste can easily be composted at home.
“Most glass containers can be recycled, no matter the colour. Glass bottles do not need to be separated by colour, however it is advisable that the lids are removed,” advises Oelofse. Glass and break-ware items that can’t be recycled include: computer and television screens, light bulbs, car head lights, laboratory glass, windscreens, window glass, crystal and opaque drinking glass, mirrors, heat-resistant ovenware, ceramics and clay pots.
All used oil can be recycled and includes hydraulic oil, gear oil and engine oil.
Paper is another widely accepted waste stream for recycling and includes: newspapers, magazines, office paper, cardboard boxes and pamphlets.
Many plastic materials can be recycled. Gibson advises that bottle caps and lids are removed from plastic packaging. “The recyclability of this waste stream depends on the equipment of recyclers and what the lid is made of.”
Electric cars, LED lighting, reusable bags; many a green innovation has gone mainstream in recent years – and now energy storage is joining the list.
With new tech start-ups entering the scene this year to produce storage batteries, costs for storing energy are set to fall, making 2016 the year of battery storage around the world.
Why the focus on storage? More companies are turning to wind and solar energy but weather patterns are far from consistent. By storing the energy produced in batteries, it can be released for use when it is needed, and not only throughout the day, but from season to season as well.
Energy storage has already taken off in some markets around the world, driven by renewable energy generation, but has largely been overlooked so far in Britain, mainly because of the high cost of implementing storage technologies.
In some markets, such as the US, Germany, and Japan, energy storage is being used commercially. In the US, about 13 per cent of electricity comes from renewable sources and in Germany it equates to around 30 per cent of electricity consumed. And the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) pumped $700 million into energy storage for Japan in 2015.
Investing now to build energy storage systems that take advantage of local, renewable resources could ultimately save companies money by paving the way to energy independence. “It’s a huge advantage to keep energy locally and bring it back locally when you need it, without having to transport it across the country,” says Franz Jenowein, Sustainability Consulting Director at JLL.
The cost of energy storage needs to come down for the commercial real estate industry to embrace it. “Although there’s excitement around the numbers, it might take up to 10 years for companies to get their return on investment,” says Jenowein.
Knowledge of a new technology is one thing; actually using it is quite another. The photovoltaic (PV) effect, responsible for converting light into energy, for example, isn’t new: a 19-year-old French physicist discovered it in 1839.
“Solar PV panels were first used by space satellites in the late 1950s. And battery storage technology has come a long way, but it’s only really come onto the radar with Tesla,” says Jenowein who noted that the premium, electric vehicle automaker used a “very clever communications strategy to make something as geeky as a battery attractive.”
Introducing super batteries
Batteries, pumped-storage systems, ice storage, and heat thermal storage make up some of the more common energy storage technologies for use during peak demand to bring grid usage down and to compensate for peak electricity tariffs. But super batteries, the same types that power electric vehicles, are the current focus of tech companies ever since Tesla introduced the Powerwall energy storage system for homes in May 2015.
Energy stored in batteries provides a promising way to store renewable energy for buildings, too. They can power lights, computers, heating and cooling equipment during peak times, can take over during power outages, and they provide an alternative to fossil fuel powered back-up generators.
Storage battery systems have two functions. “The beauty is that you not only generate energy, but you also have an energy holding technology. Batteries can be connected to the power grid, potentially playing a key role in the emerging smart grids,” says Jenowein. Once you put energy storage systems in buildings and connect to the grid, they become part of this new energy ecosystem.
Getting into the act
More UK tech start-ups are getting into the act by developing their own storage batteries, which they can sell to commercial building owners, in a sort of “storage war” competition, with companies such as Powervault, Moixa Technology, and redT.
Powervault, for example, plans to “take on Tesla” by providing home energy storage systems for British homeowners. Moixa’s system is for residential and commercial uses, and redT’s is for industrial and utility-scale usage.
Although this technology is still prohibitively expensive for widespread use, as production increases and more companies get into the game, prices will go down. “Costs are expected to fall 40 percent over the next five years,” according to JLL’s 2016 Sustainability Trends report.
Jenowein paints a picture of the environment in the UK today: a recognition by building managers of higher electricity rates during day peak times and a willingness to do something about it, and the technology solutions of the batteries. He says that lots of components need to come together for energy storage to become more prevalent, such as regulatory elements, subsidies and incentives, and software to integrate the technologies.
“The challenge is to make it all work together,” says Jenowein. His prediction: energy storage for use in commercial office buildings will be more commonplace, but probably not before 2025 or 2030.
“If it has a plug or runs on batteries and it is broken – it’s e-waste”. This phrase found on the Transworld Cargo website succinctly defines electronic waste.
We can’t take for granted the knowledge families have on recycling e-waste. With households storing old computers, fridges, television sets and even damaged mobile technology, some are unaware of what to do to with them.
Instead of hoarding such waste or simply dumping it in any landfill, you and your family can use safe methods to deal with e-waste correctly.
With the growing use of household digital appliances, “e-waste has become the fastest growing waste in the world, adding up to 50 million tons of e-waste worldwide per annum,” according to Transworld Cargo, the leading e-cycling partner in the country.
Their goal is to provide the expertise and infrastructure necessary for recycling e-waste.
“People are adamant about recycling, their interest keeps growing,” Transworld Cargo warehouse manager Armando Passano said.
Don’t know what to do with all your e-waste?
Passano suggested that the public drop it off at their Windhoek warehouse in Southern Industrial.
This will make it easier for them to dismantle and sort through the waste, and doesn’t limit customers to the one cubic metre requirement for residential and company pick-ups made by Transworld.
In Windhoek exclusively, Transworld Cargo has various drop-off sites where locals can dispose of their electronic items in the containers provided. Do keep in mind that they do not accept batteries and fluorescent bulbs. Those can be dumped as hazardous waste at the Kupferberg landfill site.
Transworld Cargo (5 von Braun Street, Southern Industrial Area) – Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 17h00
Delta School (corner of Reverend Michael Scott and Dr. A.B. May Street, near Ausspannplatz) – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 07h00 to 09h00
St Paul’s College (393 Sam Nujoma Drive) – Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 16h00
DHPS (11-15 Church Street) – Mondays from 06h45 to 16h00 and Tuesdays to Fridays from 06h45 to 13h30
Windhoek International School (Scheppmann Street, Pioneers Park, Extension 1)