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Turning Garbage into Gold 127

Posted by Zonk
from the by-your-powers-combined dept.
bart_scriv writes "Entrepreneurs are creating companies that exploit the creative opportunities in other people's junk, sparing the environment in the process. The article looks at green entrepreneurship in general and profiles some specific companies, whose products range from recycled printer cartridges to rubber sidewalks. It also includes a slideshow on the process of making rubber sidewalks. From the article: 'While innovation has always been the entrepreneur's trademark, a growing interest in the green movement is propelling small business owners to create new products and services that also happen to be inventive recycling solutions for the country's vast waste heaps. 'The sustainability and restoring of our environment are providing opportunities in many fields of small business,' says John Stayton, co-founder and director of the Green MBA program at San Francisco's New College of California.'"
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Turning Garbage into Gold

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  • Yeah (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So what are they going to turn Linux into?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      MacOS X
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, I'm talking about Slashdot.
    • I've had half-a-dozen client machines completely DOA until I install Linux onto them, over the top of "Doze (typically XP, but IRL all breeds).

      I've also had two works-forever Linux bozes go DOA when 'Doze was installed on them.

      No, I don't make this up. I don't need to. This is Real Life®.
  • wow-wee (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MustardMan (52102) on Friday August 18, 2006 @06:50PM (#15938014)
    I was hoping for something relatively cool in the rubber sidewalk slide show - instead, all I got is some shots of ground up rubber and a very ho-hum sidewalk paver install. *yawn*
    • Re:trash to treasure (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Prox (521892)
      I have a feeling that in 10 years or so it will be economicly feasable to strip mine old landfills than to go mining for raw ore. Generational recycling and reclamation, if you will.

      Be a pal, bless my server. [i-bless.com]
      • I've thought this for a while as well; we're dumping so much of our material wealth into landfill, what happens when we run out? Maybe at that point, the only thing left will be glass and disposable nappies (diapers) :)
      • Re:trash to treasure (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CyclistOne (896544) on Friday August 18, 2006 @08:27PM (#15938371)
        A great application of nanotechnology and robotics would be to create bots which would sift through the landfills and separate out all the different substances: 'chew' the stuff and spit out the various components. But I fear it's too late ... the world's economy is going to tank before we have time to develop such a thing.
    • Re:wow-wee (Score:4, Interesting)

      by lpangelrob (714473) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:19PM (#15938101)

      I posted about rubber sidewalks in another forum... here's better links:

      Christian Science Monitor story [csmonitor.com]

      Rubber Sidewalk company page [rubbersidewalks.com]

      Economical? Not yet, and not far away from California. Maybe if you're a streets & sanitation manager for a rich town and have money to blow in exchange for lower maintenance cost down the road. But that's why I appreciate small businesses in America and worldwide; they can be effective in their own niche and take risks that bigger companies wouldn't make.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Isn't it always in the taxpayers best interest to make things cheaper down the road. I hate these politicians who come in and say they are going to lower taxes without having any plan on how to do so, and without doing thorough review of the budget. Often the only way to cut the taxes is by cutting services, and the citizens suffer. I seriously wish our politicians would invest in some technologies that would make things cheaper in the long run, instead of trying to make themselves look good by taking th
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Millenniumman (924859)
          Wouldn't you rather buy services yourself, instead of having someone take your money, and let someone who has no idea who you are decide what you need, and then buy it with your money?

          Why do citizens suffer when you cut taxes and cut services? They can then use their money to buy said services, and do it a lot better than some random guy in an office.

          If you want your money invested in something worthwhile, invest it. Why would you want it to be taken from you and invested in whatever organization has the be
          • by MrNixon (28945)
            Ever heard of buying in bulk?

            Perhaps the government can meet more needs per dollar because it has more money to spread around (so much that economies of scale start to kick in)?
            • A large company, which you can freely do business with, can buy in bulk too. It, unlike a government, cares how much it pays for things, because it isn't given as much money as it wants to take.

              Government inefficiency and corruption will take away any advantage of it buying in bulk, not to mention your freedom in choosing what you want and where you want to get it from.
              • by MrNixon (28945)
                A large company has one and only one motivation. Profit. (In fact, if they're a publically traded corporation, they have a LEGAL responsibility to maximize profit.)

                Do you really and honestly believe that you'll get the best possible deal from a large company?

                I don't.
                • I do. Because if they don't offer it, then people will buy from someone else, and they won't make as much profit. And as you said, they want profit.

                  Do you think that even if you could get things slightly cheaper, it would be worth the loss in freedom?
                  • by MrNixon (28945)
                    Yes. It is.

                    I believe that when my rights begin to trample on another's, then my right either isn't worth having anymore, or it's application must be modified.

                    I believe that all people have a basic right to certain services - and some people (for whatever reason) just can't afford them. While it might feel really good for me to be able to go out and pick and choose how I can get the services I need, economic factors dictate that some people cannot get them on their own.

                    If my slight loss of the freedom to cho
                • A large company has one and only one motivation. Profit. (In fact, if they're a publically traded corporation, they have a LEGAL responsibility to maximize profit.)

                  Wrong! It's hardly ever since now but originally corporate charters were established to further the public good. As for maximizing profits, I guess you've never heard of Whole Foods. It is one of the fastest growing grocery chains in the US and part of it's charter or bylaws is to help the local communities it operates in and stockholders s

                  • by MrNixon (28945)
                    Neat! One example!

                    I have a few for you.

                    Enron. Worldcom. Hell, our favourite target here on /. - Microsoft. Wal-Mart. Anderson Accounting. De Boers. Shell and how they would incite insurrections inside foreign countries.

                    Look. My point is not that corporations are evil. It's that putting your complete faith into the 'free market' is sometimes a losing proposition. Corporations have their place. Governments have theirs.
                    • Look. My point is not that corporations are evil. It's that putting your complete faith into the 'free market' is sometimes a losing proposition. Corporations have their place. Governments have theirs.

                      I agree both corporations and government have their places. And they intersect, they are both supposed to improve the public good. Corporations, and more generally businesses and organizations can do this by providing goods and services to others. The government's job, well there's two really, is to def

            • Perhaps the government can meet more needs per dollar because it has more money to spread around (so much that economies of scale start to kick in)?

              Why should I do forced to buy something I don't want? That's what government does. I don't mind groups getting together to buy in bulk, I buy in bulk when I can and I'm a member of two coops. But that is voluntary not by force of arms.

              Falcon
            • Pick up a GSA catalog and hit yourself in the head with it until you have disabused yourself of this notion.

              -Peter
          • by timeOday (582209)
            Wouldn't you rather buy services yourself, instead of having someone take your money, and let someone who has no idea who you are decide what you need, and then buy it with your money?
            Does that mean I don't have to help pay for Iraq?
          • by madro (221107) *
            Let me know where you're purchasing your state and local law enforcement. Or public goods in general. (Unless you're a proponent of anarcho-capitalism, in which case you can just refute these criticisms [wikipedia.org])
      • I read an article about tire rubber that got me thinking about how much a good idea all these recycled rubber products really are:

        "The rubber in car tires is typically about 40 percent natural--i.e., made from latex; there's even more latex rubber in truck tires. Putting a fine dust of latex into the air is a serious concern to those with latex allergies. Somewhere from 1 to 6 percent of the U.S. population has some sensitivity to latex, which can take the form of rashes, inflammation, asthma, and worse. (H
        • People don't get breaks from radon, which can cause lung cancer, in concrete either. So what's left to make sidewalks with? Bricks are used but they have the problem of breaking up just as concrete does and can cause falls and such. How about dirt? There was dirty there to begin with but people demanded they be paved. As far as the health problems with breathing are concerned that you list desiel exhaust causes the same problems.

          Falcon
    • by Jeremi (14640)
      So you're complaining because sidewalks aren't exciting enough? What exactly were you expecting, trampoline action?
      • by MustardMan (52102)
        What exactly were you expecting, trampoline action?

        Dear sir,
            I find your ideas interesting, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @06:51PM (#15938018)
    The bags made out of old inner tubes cost way more than similar bags imported from China and sold at Walmart.

    The trick to recycling is to do so in an economic manner.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:11PM (#15938078)
      Very little of recycling is anything but very wasteful. Penn and Teller did an episode of their show "Bullshit!" about it and it was quite illuminating. In terms of energy costs and such, the only time recycling ever turns a benefit is in the case of aluminum cans. Everything else is a huge waste. Especially paper, since all of our paper comes from tree farms specifically grown to supply paper. You're not killing acres of forest when you throw out paper, you're probably planting a new tree.

      And don't get me started on the fact that plastics only last 1000 years in a dump if you bury it like an idiot. Plastics are photosensitive and will decay rapidly if just left where they can get sunlight.
      • by misleb (129952) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:25PM (#15938137)
        The problem is that you are thinking in terms of energy and not raw materials. Depending on where the energy is coming from, using more in recycling vs. production may not be a problem. If the raw materials are in limited supply or dumping space is limited, the recycling still makes sense if you can recycle significant quantities. Although I didn't watch the Bullshit episode.They may have covered more than just the energy aspect.

        The paper issue is interesting though because you might consider discarded paper as a carbon sink.

        As for not burying plastic... What do you suggest we do with it? Fill desert areas with trash? What kind of chemicals does decaying plastic leave behind?

        -matthew
        • by dev_alac (536560)
          I think you've nailed the idea. It's not just energy ROI. You have to consider the costs of disposing of the trash as well, as people don't want loads of trash sitting around and certainly not getting imported from places where there's no room. It's why recycling doesn't make as much sense in the midwest as on the coasts -- it's reflected in the tipping fees you pay for trash. Here in MA we pay about $85-120/ton to dump trash, plus hauling fees. In the midwest and southwest it's down around $30. So re
        • Ok, but let me simplify the equation for you a bit. For the forseeable future (as in, as long as you'll be alieve at least) the energy comes from fossil fuels. Either oil, coal, or natural gas.
          • All hail Nostradamus
          • by misleb (129952)
            Ok, but let me simplify the equation for you a bit. For the forseeable future (as in, as long as you'll be alieve at least) the energy comes from fossil fuels. Either oil, coal, or natural gas


            Really? I'm pretty sure the electricity I use comes from hydropower. But maybe those big ol' dams are just for show.

            -matthew
            • Yes, but 1) you're using it already, so it can't be used for anything else, 2) hydropower is going to be an increasingly small percentage of the earth's energy supply due to it's own environmental problems, and 3) it takes a long time to ramp up new power capacity. On the order of 10 years per plant. Whatever replaces hydrocarbon fuels is definately going to take a longer timescale than the average slashdotter has left to become the majority energy source.
              • by FLEB (312391)
                How's nuclear doing? From what I vaguely recall, it has a slow ramp-up time as well, but it's gaining a bit more traction with environmentally-minded folk (again, if I vaguely recall correctly).
          • by dev_alac (536560)
            Energy isn't the only cost driver. Employees and tipping fees are also big pieces of the pie. When they're high enough, recycling makes sense. Energy isn't everything.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:28PM (#15938152)
        Especially paper, since all of our paper comes from tree farms specifically grown to supply paper. You're not killing acres of forest when you throw out paper, you're probably planting a new tree.


        Not true. From our experience (in Brazil), this monoculture aproach using non-native species leads to as much wildlife wipeout and soil/underground water spoiling as the damned "Queimadas", wich is the practice of burning the forest to give way to soybean crops and/or bovine pasture.
      • by Mydron (456525) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:40PM (#15938209)
        tree farms
        With a few exceptions there are no such things as "tree farms". There are forests. Some of them are managed and some of them are not.

        The problem with your logic is that the tree you just "planted" by throwing out paper (wtf?), is not going to provide: shade or habitat or prevent erosion or breathe in a comparable amount of carbon dioxide. There are lots of other externalities you've neglected to account for, such as the chemical treatment it takes to produce paper pulp from wood (more so than recycled pulp). Nobody counts that because it gets dumped into the air, oceans and rivers.

        According to some reports, many of North America's largest catalogs and tissue product manufacturers use virgin boreal pulp [nrdc.org].

        Often in managed forests, where, as you triumphantly declare: trees are "specifically grown to supply paper", the trees that have been planted are not indigenous to the region. This endangers native plant and animal species, such as in Chile [panda.org].
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745)
          "the chemical treatment it takes to produce paper pulp from wood "
          and what about the chemical treatment to recycle paper?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Mydron (456525)
            Nice try, perhaps you missed: "more so than recycled pulp".

            You can read more here: a report from NH Dept of Environmental Services [state.nh.us].

            I have taken the liberty of copying a few salient points:

            "The majority of environmental releases in the pulp and paper industry come from pulping. The environmental impacts of papermaking are much smaller, and it is impossible to distinguish between the impacts from virgin and recycled papermaking. In pulpmaking, however, the differences are large. Compared to virgin pulpi

      • And don't get me started on the fact that plastics only last 1000 years in a dump if you bury it like an idiot. Plastics are photosensitive and will decay rapidly if just left where they can get sunlight.

        I call bullshit. Biodegradable plastics that decay with exposure to sunlight exist but have proven too expensive to manufacture for general use. Biodegradable plastics also tend to release carbon into the atmosphere. The plastics we use do not "decay rapidly" if just left in sunlight. Even if the coke

        • The following is from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

          Unfortunately, recycling plastics has proven difficult. The biggest problem with plastics recycling is that it is difficult to automate the sorting of plastic waste, and so it is labor intensive. Typically, workers sort the plastic by looking at the resin identification code, though common containers like soda bottles can be sorted from memory. Other recyclable materials, such as metals, are easier to process mechanically.

          While containers are usually made from a single
          • by TykeClone (668449) *
            Developments are, however, taking place in the field of Active Disassembly

            So, that's what Dell's been experimenting with!

          • a cellular phone may have many small parts consisting of over a dozen different types and colors of plastics. In a case like this, the resources it would take to separate the plastics far exceed their value

            Ah but there's another reason to recycle cellphones, for the coltan in them. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a major source of coltan and the profits of mining it pay for the deaths of thousands. Much of the conflict in the Congo is a resource conflict.

            Since the outbreak of fighting in Aug [globalissues.org]

      • "And don't get me started on the fact that plastics only last 1000 years in a dump if you bury it like an idiot. Plastics are photosensitive and will decay rapidly if just left where they can get sunlight."

        Sorry, but even in sunlight, they don't decay fast enough.

        There is a giant ( twice the size of Texas ) pile of floating plastic in the north eastern Pacific know as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. An unfourtunate combination of wind and currents causes most anything dropped into the northern Paci
      • And don't get me started on the fact that plastics only last 1000 years in a dump if you bury it like an idiot. Plastics are photosensitive and will decay rapidly if just left where they can get sunlight.

        Yes some plastics are sun, light, degradable. But this requires sunlight, and where does the vast majority of used plastic go? It gets buried in landfills. I doubt many people would like it if plastics were just laying around anywhere waiting to degrade. Also plastic can be deadly. Have you ever see

    • by kfg (145172) *
      The trick to recycling is to do so in an economic manner.

      The trick to dealing with waste is; don't. Perhaps you've heard an aphorism that begins with that word, but as such you are the only one who makes money on the deal (there's another aphorism that deals with pennies), so you'll never hear the concept advertised.

      Read Brave New World for the argumentum ad adsurdum.

      KFG
    • So, a guy takes old bicycle tires and makes them into messenger bags, which he sells to upper-class fashionistas willing and able to shell out $148 for a book bag made of rubber (!). Another entrepreneur makes sidewalk pavers out of old auto tires, which last longer and are more bouncy than concrete.

      Ooookay. That's nice. But...er...what happens when the bag wears out? Or the paver gets too many cuts and dings from inline skates and people falling off bikes? You've got your trash back again, that's wha
      • by Jeremi (14640)
        So all they seem to have done is take some small part of the rubber trash stream and make it go 'round just one more time.

        Correct.

        This doesn't seem to me like what we normally think of as "recycling."

        It's exactly what we normally think of as recycling. Every trip through the recycling cycle degrades the material to some extent -- that's why white paper gets recycled as newspaper, and newspaper gets recycled as filler, and so on. Even aluminum cans and plastic bottles can't be recycled indefinitely, becau

        • by vidarh (309115)
          And of course, while these people may not reuse their own waste and "only" add one more round, that doesn't mean that the waste can't eventually be reused by someone else down the line.
        • by Quadraginta (902985) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @03:30AM (#15939495)
          Every trip through the recycling cycle degrades the material to some extent...

          Nonsense. Aluminum is aluminum is aluminum. Steel is steel. Silicon dioxide (glass) is silicon dioxide. You melt them down, blow off the impurities, and you are exactly back where you started -- and I mean right down to the molecule. The idea that somehow the Fe atoms that are part of your 2006 Ford car door might be "degraded" because they were once part of the trunk of a '56 Ford, and before that formed the bearing on a pushrod in a locomotive built in 1908, is inconsistent with basic principles of chemistry. (Biological recycling is even more efficient -- your food doesn't taste faintly of shit if the farmer manures the field.)

          The only place you could make this kind of general argument is for composite polymer materials -- e.g. plastics, rubber and paper -- where it's not economical to reduce the materials to their original chemical form. Practically speaking, you can't reduce polystyrene waste to the olefins from which it was originally polymerized, in order to purge it of impurities, restore the original degree of polymerization, and restore the original composite mix of resin, plasticizers, et cetera. It just costs too much, as someone else has pointed out. So these materials are not, at present, significantly recycleable in any meaningful sense.

          Instead, as in TFA, one "recycles" materials like these only in the toy sense of taking the used material and shaping it into another form for a while. It's as if you took your old, rusted-out car body, and, rather than melt the steel down and recast it into a pristine rust-free new car body, just turned the rustbucket into a planter, or some funky rust art. Or like my grandfather re-using wood from packing crates to stake up his tomato plants. Or GIs in the Second World War wiping their asses with pages from Stars and Stripes.

          I don't think this is true recycling. It hasn't a prayer of ever becoming a closed loop, where the material recycles more or less endlessly, and you just supply energy. Turning your rusted-out automobile into a planter doesn't solve the fundamental problem at all, because the planter's just going to go into the dump itself, soon enough. You haven't done squat to figure out a way to truly close the loop, to turn the worn-out product back into a brand new product of the same type and quality.

          Such "recycling" is a gimmick, an abuse of language, which conveys the false impression that something much more useful is going on than really is. The fact that some miniscule fraction of bicycle tires could be re-used by consumers one more time, for a year or so, as part of a rubber bookbag, can have no serious impact on the problem of our waste stream. It's re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

          Does it matter? Sure. Effort spent re-arranging deck chairs could be better spent trying to plug holes below the waterline. When people hear about all this "recycling" they may figure, hey, plenty's being done, and pay less attention to efforts at genuine recycling. (For example, although steel is infinitely recycleable, and very economically, only about 60% of American steel cans are recycled. That's idiotic.) Toy solutions can easily delay and prevent real solutions.

          In any case, the more interesting thing is that entrepreneurs are beginning to see the profit potential of recycling garbage.

          Good grief. Are we to suppose engineers have been idiots until early in the 21st century? Any fool understands that if you can figure out a way to turn "garbage" (what you can buy cheap) into "product" (what you can sell dear), then profit follows as night follows day. Consequently, the history of technology is chock-o'-block full of engineers taking "waste" products and finding new, useful things to do with them. This isn't a new insight or development, it's as old as compost heaps.

          One historical example, relevant here, is that our entire modern plastics industry is based around the
          • by Jeremi (14640)
            Nonsense. Aluminum is aluminum is aluminum. Steel is steel.

            Agreed, but your rusted-out car body isn't pure aluminum or pure steel. It's some metal, plus some paint, plus various other materials that you will need to separate out in order to get your useful raw material back out again. The separation takes work and energy, and you'll never get all of the material back -- there will always be some lost during the processing. The waste percentage is much smaller for metals than it is for other materials, bu

            • The waste percentage is much smaller for metals than it is for other materials, but it's not zero.

              Sure. But for the "recycling" schemes in question, the waste percentage is 100%. None of the material is recovered in its original form. I'm drawing a distinction -- I think a very useful distinction -- between recycling schemes that recover some percentage of the material in its original, pristine form, and "recycling" schemes that don't back up at all, that merely take material too degraded for one use and
          • One historical example, relevant here, is that our entire modern plastics industry is based around the fact that when oil started to be refined into gasoline and kerosene for smaller and more delicate engines around the turn of the 20th century, the process left behind sludgy heavy "garbage" residue, which was a mere nuisance until some chemists in the 20s and 30s figured out you could polymerize the "garbage" and turn it into strong, lightweight plastics. Poof, straw into gold. Hardly an uncommon event, hi

    • by Jeremi (14640)
      The bags made out of old inner tubes cost way more than similar bags imported from China and sold at Walmart

      And yet still they are able to sell them at a profit. Strange, eh? But not so strange when you consider that people willing pay $99 for a designer t-shirt when essentially the same thing being sold elsewhere for $5. If nothing else, the symbolism and novelty makes these things worth the extra cost, at least in the eyes of some.

      The trick to recycling is to do so in an economic manner

      Well, the trick

  • by saskboy (600063) on Friday August 18, 2006 @06:52PM (#15938020) Homepage Journal
    Ewaste is poisoning our water [abandonedstuff.com]. Each TV has a lot of lead, and my provinces' IT equipment collection program set to start in 2007 won't take TVs until 2008 at the earliest. It's good that some places are capitalizing now on all of our misfortune.
    eWastecanada.ca [ewastecanada.ca] is a local business mining for gold.
    • and how, exactly, is the lead getting out of the glass?
      • by saskboy (600063)
        Well, the CRT is crushed in compacting of the garbage, then water can enter and wash away lead which leaches into the soil. Leaded solder is still used too. However, the EU is apparently demanding their devices use lead-free solder very soon, so the rest of the world may benefit from their legislation when tech manufacturers switch over.
    • by zippthorne (748122) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:52PM (#15938247) Journal
      2-10 lbs of lead?

      I find that very difficult do believe. I mean that's 5-25 POUNDS of solder. What the hell are they doing in there?

      The heaviest thing in a television set is the picture tube. Since it's big and filled with vacuum it must have very thick walls. Thick glass walls. I suppose they could be lead crystal glass tubes, but that would be needlessly expensive, and wouldn't leach into the water supply in any meaningful timescale anyway. The next heaviest thing is the hundreds of wrappings of thin copper wire. There is no reason to ever make thin copper wire out of lead. In fact, it's impossible.

      That figure smacks of taking advantage of people's ignorance about a heavy rarely opened box in almost everyone's homes. There's gotta be some kind of term for abusing people's uncertainty about things to encourage fear to promote some kind of crazy agenda.
      • by ozbird (127571) on Friday August 18, 2006 @08:49PM (#15938427)
        I suppose they could be lead crystal glass tubes ...

        Bingo [wikipedia.org]. It's heavily leaded glass to absorb X-rays generated by the electron beams smashing into the aperture grille etc.
        • by pipingguy (566974) *
          Aperture grille? Shadow mask? WTF is that all about?

          If everyone is not using LCD monitors by now they should be shunned and tsked at by the general population for being energy-wasters.
          • Got the $$ for it? A decent LCD screen to replace a living room TV is not the cheapest thing in the world, so there are going to be a lot of people who just can't afford to upgrade, especially if the Tube-TV works fine.
            • by pipingguy (566974) *
              I know what you mean, and I was being facetious. But at least the cost of LCD and DLP sets are dropping quickly now. When my 19" Mitsubishi monitors (I do CAD work) died (strangely within 3 months of each other) there was nowhere else to go but LCD. So now I have LCD monitors that have failing pixels.

              . That dot to the left is what my current monitor shows in places. Never had that problem with CRTs.
        • by Zigurd (3528)
          It's going to take time in geological scale for any lead to get out of the glass it is part of. Considering vitrification is a way of getting radwaste out of the environment for an immensely long time, why are we worrying about leaded glass? The only worry is to keep it OUT of the recycling stream so you don't get it in glass intended for food, and, even then it is unlikely to go anywhere.
          • It's going to take time in geological scale for any lead to get out of the glass it is part of.

            That's a very reasonable thought, with which I'd have instinctively agreed, but unfortunately it turns out not to be true. Apparently it takes mere hours to days if the glass is crushed. Here [sciencenews.org] is a surprising brief report from Science News, which, since it's in a God-damned PDF, I will quote:

            Though anecdotal reports have hinted that picture tubes' glass might leach [lead], no one knew how much, notes Timothy G. T
      • by exegene (896789)
        The glass of a crt's monitor is filled with lead. Consider that a crt monitor is an electron gun, and the health implications of sitting for hours on end of one, were it not full of something to keep x-rays from irradiating the sitter.

        Some Reference:
        http://www.svtc.org/hightech_prod/desktop.htm [svtc.org]
        http://www.qsrecycling.com/whatisacrt.html [qsrecycling.com]
        http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/comp-dic/lca-sum/ques8 .pdf [epa.gov]
      • by saskboy (600063)
        Believe it. Now you know why TVs and monitors are so heavy I guess. I don't want to imagine how much lead has made it back into our drinking water because of crushed TVs and rain runoff. I think legislators don't care to think about it as well. Maybe they should be though before we all have lead poisoning.
      • I find that very difficult do believe. I mean that's 5-25 POUNDS of solder. What the hell are they doing in there?

        Lead isn't in just the solder, there's also lead in the glass.

        Falcon
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "'The sustainability and restoring of our environment are providing opportunities in many fields of small business,'"

    I'm going to do my part and recycle all my comments from now on.
  • The Mr. Fusion [wikipedia.org] already produces 1.21 jiggawatts of electricity. They are about 18 years too late.
  • by NineNine (235196) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:12PM (#15938082)
    This is ridiculous. All this is is people finding a way to make money. Nothing new. It just so happens that they're using waste from other businesses. It has been happening in one form or another for as long as any semblance of free markets have existed. There's a niche, and people are filling it. These aren't people out to save the world. These are people out to save a buck, and the way that they do it happens to recycle scrap. Big fucking deal.
    • In a time when many people believe that environmentalism and governmental regulation are synonymous I think an article demonstrating the contrary is interesting. When taken with the fact that increases in gas prices have been hurting SUV sales there seems to be a developing picture of market forces working towards environmental ends.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by misleb (129952)
      Believe it or not some people actually have a conscience and specifically gear business decisions toward the "greater good." Not every entrepreneur is amoraly looking to make a buck wherever and however they can. Sure, they make a buck like every other capitalist, but they choose to do it in a way that benefits society and the environment. They should be commended for it. On the other end of the spectrum we have spammers who should be spit on. See how that works? You encourage people who find the "good" nic
      • by kfg (145172) *
        Believe it or not some people actually have a conscience. . .

        That would be me, however, unlike most of the people with a conscience in the recyling business I also have a modicum of understanding.

        As per my other post in this thread, however, understanding is very, very "bad for the economy," so unless you learn to think these issues out, very hard, on your own, you aren't likely to hear about it.

        People who "have a conscience" are selling plastics now as being "good for the environment," and make a damned fi
    • The news in this is that companies are finding profitable ways to recycle. This will cause an increase in recycling, which is good. Why does an organization doing something good have to be in it only for that, and without any thoughts to their own gain?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) *
      All this is is people finding a way to make money.

      At your expense; and, generally speaking, that of the environment as well.

      KFG
    • by NexFlamma (919608)
      Ah, but you're missing the most important part of TFA.

      As our resources become less and less in the next few decades this sort of business will become much more important. These are the precursors to what very well could be a huge industry boom in the near future.

      Also, you don't find the fact that their business relies on the refuse of other businesses instead of using new resources to be interesting? Wow. How jaded you have become!
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      It's also good business practice to create local bylaws that force people to separate their own garbage in the name of "saving the planet".
  • You mean other than eBay? ^_^
  • Thus proving the age old adage that one man's trash is another man's VC funding.
  • by dev_alac (536560) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:30PM (#15938165)
    Works on college move-outs. All the reusable trash thrown out -- clothes, furniture, random stuff -- gets collected, sorted, and sold back to students and the community in the fall, proceeds generally going to the groups (student groups, charities, etc.) that provided the labor. Called Dump and Run [dumpandrun.org]. You will realize that anyone with a sign on the street for "large yardsale" does not know what they're talking about when you sell several tons of stuff for thousands of dollars. The sales I've been involved with are talking about a dozen tons for over $5 grand and they're for a school of under 2000 undergrads.
  • 'The sustainability and restoring of our environment are providing opportunities in many fields of small business,' John Stayton, co-founder and director of the Green MBA program at San Francisco's New College of California.

    Well, he already found his way to make money with his "Green MBA program". Although, I guess it's not really in the spirit of the message.

  • I used to buy freight damaged medical supplies and we did ok for awhile.

    i had a 3000+ sq ft warehouse full at one point but too many problems

    Other wholesalers/retailers were only interested in the particular product number they normally used even if something was equal or simply a different package quantity.

    Soon even the charities didnt want odd quantities or small lots, they wanted pallets of gloves and money. By that point all our excess had to be put in garbage.

    Between storing it, sorting it and paying t
    • by Jeremi (14640)
      Now most of it goes in trash even tho more than half is perfectly useable merchandise that doesnt even need reprocessing :(

      Dunno whether it applies to bulk medical supplies so much, but in general this sort of problem ("I have item X that I don't need and can't profitably sell, but it's still perfectly useful if only I could find the person who could use it") is a search/discovery problem. 99% of the time, the person who could use the item is out there, if only there was a way for you to find them (or them

  • by sakusha (441986) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:26PM (#15938521)
    This silly idea for recycled sidewalks is totally stupid, it completely ignores the basic facts: you're not taking garbage out of the environment, you're just distributing it in different spots, like EVERYWHERE. So instead of old rubber rotting away in a massive pile in a dump, it's rotting away in everyone's front yard. I think this is infinitely LESS preferable to concrete, at least you can rip up old concrete, break it down into gravel, and use it to make NEW concrete, and even in a dump, concrete is totally inert. But a recycled rubber sidewalk is just going to decompose and end up as hydrocarbon pollution that enters the ground and groundwater. If you dispose of tires in a dump, maybe you can put it in a clay-lined dig, where the decomposition products won't run into the ground water, but if it's in everyone's front yard, it won't take long before the pollution ends up in the land, water, and in our bodies.
    • >a href="http://www.netfeed.com/~jhill/westley.htm"> TIRE FIRE NEAR WESTLEY,CA 09-22-1999 9:36AM

      Falcon
      • Interesting site, but the formatting is truly abysmal.

        Mixed fonts, dozens of colors, flashing, bold, italics, uneven margins, etc.

        It reminded me of Wired magazine from the mid 90s.
    • by aug24 (38229)
      You appear to be neglecting the down-side of using cement, which is what turns broken up old concrete into new concrete.

      Manufacture and use of cement requires large amounts of energy and thus large release of CO2. Some wind turbines, for example, need such large bases that they can only be used on bedrock or the emissions creating them would outweigh the gains in generation.

      Slow breakdown of old rubber - which is going to happen somewhere after all - may well be better overall.

      Justin.
  • Back in the '80s... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kjfitz (256432) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:20PM (#15938683) Homepage
    Back in the '80s a business partner and I had a company that literally turned garbage into gold. We would deinstall old mini-computer installations. Minicomputers for those too young to remember were often larger than refrigerators and could have hundreds of circuit boards in them. We'd then pull the board from them and since the computers still had an installed base but few parts available sell the parts to 3rd party repair depots around the country. Whatever didn't sell got boxed up and sent by the ton to a smelter who would extract the gold, silver, copper, etc. Some circuit boards, NCR for instance, had every trace and ground plane gold plated many times thicker than the connectors on today's computers. The huge aluminum castings of disk drives (80 to 100 pounds each) were great scrap too.

    Eventually the installed base of systems dried up. That's when my second career started...
  • FYI this company has done it on the small scale with pilot plants, and is poised to be the first on the market with commercially based cellulose to ethnol plants. This literally takes peoples trash and converts it to usable fuel. Kind of like Rumpelstiltskin in the energy world. http://www.bluefireethanol.com/?sd [bluefireethanol.com] I don't know about you guys, but I want to get a flex-fuel vehicle ASAP, gas is killing me! -=DG
  • Someone ought to let AOL [slashdot.org] know, it'd save them some digging...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They make mats cut to link together -> marcketed as shop mats, horse stall mats, etc. They also have Rolls of rubber spoolled for other manufacturers to process further. The junk they can't make in to anything is sold to run generators (converted to burn ground rubber instead of gasoline). It runs all the time, and smells a bit like rubber every once and a while. As for noise the train makes more noise than the rubber plant, as well as shaking the house. So good stuff, but I still like concrete better,
  • From http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/recycle. htm [epa.gov]

    "In 1999, recycling and composting kept ~64 million tons of material from landfills and incinerators. Today, this country recycles 28 percent of its waste...

    ... 42 percent of paper, 40 percent of plastic drink bottles, 55 percent of aluminum cans, 57 percent of steel packaging, and 52 percent of appliances are now recycled."

    It seems like the Baby Boom consumer generation has left us with a legacy of trash we are continuing to produce, and we
  • My brother used to work for a company that would:

    - check out the waste-chemicals of a plant.
    - evaluate what might be of use.
    - offer to dispose of the interesting chemicals, cheaper than the normal waste-processing of those chemicals would cost.
    - Sell the chemicals where someone else needs them!

    They would get money on both ends: both getting the goods, as well as getting rid of them. There might be a refining step in the middle, usually cheap enough not to spoil the fun....

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