Recycling as a method to increase energy efficiency: problems and solutions
Аксенова Н. В., Горнова В. А. Recycling as a method to increase energy efficiency: problems and solutions // Молодой ученый. 2015. №9. С. 451-453.
Key words: energy efficiency, reasonable use, recycling, wastes, methods, comparison, European countries, Russia.
In the modern world the issue of energy savings and efficiency is one of the most essential. While listening to energy saving or energy efficiency talks we can’t say that it is obviously well-known.
Energy efficiency is the field of knowledge combining engineering, economics, law and sociology. It means energy resources’ reasonable use, achievements in economically feasible efficiency by using existent power resources at the level of technological development and environmental requirements following. Sometimes energy efficiency is called «the fifth type of fuel». Energy efficiency is a careful attitude to energy in any sphere and harmless for energy production. Effective energy use prevents from resources wastes and protects the environment at the same time.
Recycling is an excellent way to increase energy efficiency .
The first thing that we’d like to mention is the recycling of metals.
Metals are perfectly suitable to recycling and are used to produce the products of the same quality as initial product. Reprocessing items of metal can preserve irreplaceable natural resources. Tin and aluminum cans processing saves about 95 % of the energy necessary to produce a new can from ore. The condition of scrap isn’t the theme. Metal can be crushed, scorched or rusty. Practically all metals are recycled. Only radioactive metals are the exceptions. Energy saved by recycling a single aluminum can is enough for 3 hours TV set work. One ton of scrap iron processing saves 1.15 tons of iron ore, 635 kg of coal and 54 kg of limestone. Scrap processing saves 75 % of the energy necessary to extract iron and produce steel from ore and it is sufficient to provide 18 million houses with energy.
Glass bottle recycling saves as much electricity as that a 100W glow lamp can work for 4 hours. Some glass products can't be recycled. Glass is made of the same main materials (sand, ashes, soda and lime), but types of glass used for windows or light bulbs contain different additives and coatings. Therefore, only bottles and jars are suitable for reprocessing. Glass is one of the few materials that are recycled multiple times without loss of quality .
Cardboard and paper are excellent materials for recycling. Each ton of the recycled paper keeps 17 trees alive. Producing paper from the recycled material needs 40 % less energy and 30 % less water. Wastes paper recycling is a multi-stage process aiming at paper fibers and other components of paper (such as mineral fillers) extraction and using it as raw materials to produce new paper. Later paper becomes yellow and usually secondary fiber is mixed with the new fibers to produce new paper products. Correct processing allows using practically all types of paper in the process. Some types of paper have a more difficult recycling path because they contain additives. For example, envelopes with plastic windows are not suitable to process, first plastic should be removed first. Paper with a plastic coating can also become a problem.
Most types of paper such as cardboard, dense paper, newspapers, magazines, advertising leaflets, small brochures, envelopes (without plastic windows), paper for copiers and writing paper are suitable for recycling process. Using recycled paper reduces energy consumption, however, exact economy figures are disputed. U.S. energy information administration claims that the economy of energy due to recycling in comparison with paper production from virgin cellulose reduces energy costs by 40 % while the Bureau of the International Recycling claims that energy costs are decreased by 64 %.
A question arises: if we know that all these data show that recycling solves not only the problem of energy efficiency but also helps to decrease environmental pollution, why is so little recycling done in Russia? Let's consider the methods of collecting garbage which work in different countries and the States and consider problems of introducing such systems in Russia:
1) Garbage recycling system in Germany:
Today Russia significantly lags behind more developed European countries in municipal solid wastes processing. Firstly, it is connected with the modern systems of garbage sorting. Citizens don't sort home wastes, therefore, it also doesn’t work in wastes recycling plants where sorting process also leaves much to be desired as wastes recycling in our country noticeably differs from the European countries. For each MSW type in Germany a separate container is used. Each garbage container type has its own colour, e.g. grey colour is for paper garbage, yellow is for cans, bottles, paper and plastic package, green is for organic wastes. That glass packages that weren’t put in yellow container for packages should be put in large containers located near other containers. Bottles of green, white and brown color are sorted immediately. For old batteries recycling each German supermarket has special place. Drugs with expired date also aren’t allowed to be thrown with home garbage, and are collected in drugstores. Separate garbage sorting in Germany significantly facilitates tasks on its recycling as all garbage collected in the city depending on distance between a collection yard and a place of collection, is delivered to MSW plant or to sort facility. At sorting facilities the overload of the sorted wastes in big containers is carried out by garbage recipient. Garbage arrived to recycling factories has been already sorted beforehand, costs of its sorting also decrease.
In comparison with Germany wastes recycling has a germinal status in Russia. In order to maintain it we should follow the rules:
- People are to be provided with containers for separate garbage collecting, colourful containers is a good idea. It is necessary to place the detailed information about the garbage and ways to use it on them.
- People are to be informed about advantages of separate garbage collecting in mass media.
- People are to be under control to do garbage collecting properly.
- Specialized wastes sort factories should be built to receive garbage.
2) Automatic machines for cans and bottles recycling in Finland:
In the majority of both large and small-sized shops special machines which accept cans and bottles and later check the amount the customer can receive back are set in Finland. Plastic and glass bottles used again in beverages production are filled once again. Therefore, not only the glass package is used several times, but plastic as well. The machine recognizes material by a code and sorts cans and bottles. For shops such machines become a kind of a loyalty program, all machines that are giving cash are used to attract the clients. It turns out that the customer comes again to the shop where they had bought the bottle to get the money back after placing the bottle package into the box of recycling container. If you want to cash money it’s not necessary to buy something, you just show the cheque from the machine to get money or to receive the appropriate discount if you want to buy something.
3) In Finland  in addition to automatic machines for package getting there are so-called drop-off centers in which it is possible to hand over the remaining types of wastes. In large shopping centers in Helsinki in which there are some grocery stores a separate drop-off center is established in convenient location. The Finnish drop-off centers are well noticeable. Indoors there are automatic machines to collect package, containers for a cardboard, paper and plastic packets and also a container for batteries. Such centers accompany the large Finnish supermarket chains, such as Prisma, K-Market, S-Market, etc. Setting up a center isn't obligatory by law. However, collection of different types of wastes is economically justified, and attract additional customers who come by to get rid of package. In Finland people actively use containers at malls. It means that they obviously take care of nature. These are the things that don't raise any question. While in Russia the system of separate garbage collecting hasn't been developed yet, the Russian retail chains doubt the customer responsibility and interest.
4) Containers in Australia and Finland:
The systems are implemented in other countries. The most effective solution to such situation was found in Australia. It is Container Deposit. It is a very simple system: price of the drink includes artificially high price of bottle, thus making about 10 % of the total price. To receive this deposit back the customer needs to return an empty bottle to shop. The principle of such system is “pollutant pays”: even if a person doesn't bring a bottle to shop, there will be somebody who will pick it up and receive money for it. Besides, the system makes the vendor responsible for the package which they make and sell. This system has been working in South Australia for more than 30 years and it has impressive results. Today more than 80 % of all bottles are recycled. So, only in 2012–13 about 595 million bottles and cans were recycled that saved nearly 60 million dollars. In Finland, as well as in many European countries, there is a system of container deposit. It means that buying a product, the customer pays not only for a thing, but also for package. The amount of money is fixed, and the customers can receive it back, having returned the used package to the shop. Package container deposit is always specified. The system of container deposit allows for return of a large number of plastic and glass bottles, and also aluminum jars in turn.
In Russia recycling becomes more of a problem then solution . The abovementioned technology of recycling is hard to come true, only one company, namely ProfBisnessTelecom, is due to make revolution. The machines, so-called fandomats, taking plastic bottles and aluminum jars for money (10 kopeks for «plastic» and 40–70 kopeks for a can), appeared in Moscow. Its name has the German origin «pfand» that is «deposit». “Smart” receiving machine determines the weight and volume of a package, and the scanner is capable to recognize 30 thousand codes and allows to identify object precisely.
Problems of domestic recycling:
- It is impossible to load many bottles in a row, you have to wait for a trifle after each can, and they don’t always work.
- There is no separate location.
- A very small price is paid for bottles and cans
The world practice testifies to one: collection and sorting is the most feeble link in a chain of package recycling. Almost everywhere these ideas need more money and support to improve and develop.
In Russia, unfortunately, there is no system of container deposit (the State Duma can't adopt the relevant law for the last 10 years), nor there separate garbage collection. To find way to success it is enough to just look at successful experience of our northern neighbors.
In our country a person produces about 445 kg of wastes a year, almost half a ton, why is this huge potential not put to energy efficiency development?
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