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Showing posts with the label incineration

Plastics Pile Up

China has effectively banned the import of waste paper and plastic, throwing recycling efforts around the world into chaos.  But what appears to be a crisis could turn out to be a good opportunity to question how we recycle.

I recently wrote about the impact of China's ban on Australia's recycling industry, and the dangers of stockpiling recyclable materials.  Here in Melbourne alone we've had a recycling plant fire last month, a paper and plastics stockpile fire that burned for multiple days in 2017, and a huge tyre fire in 2016.  Each of these fires was in an urban area, and I can remember smelling the smoke at the University of Melbourne in the heart of the city.  Alleged health impacts because of smoke from the 2017 Coolaroo fire form the basis of an ongoing class action lawsuit.

An alternative to dealing with paper and plastic waste is to burn it for energy.  Waste-to-energy incinerators are not ideal - they produce carbon dioxide and their emissions need to be filte…

Bombs in Our Backyard

How would you feel about explosives packed with chemical weapons being disposed of near where you live?  This is a question facing many as the US continues to try and destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, and not surprisingly the answer is often "not in my backyard".  We have seen this yet again as the US Army struggles to find a way to dispose of old sulfur mustard munitions at the troubled Pueblo depot in Colorado.
The Chemical Weapons Convention, brought into force in 1997 and administered by the OPCW, bans the mass production and stockpiling of chemical weapons by its member states.  Importantly, it also requires that signatories destroy their existing stockpiles, which for the USA and Russia in particular has proven to be a gargantuan and on-going task.  Gone are the days when you could just dump your surplus nerve and blister agents into the sea (yes, that used to happen).

Nowadays, chemical weapons are destroyed either through high temperature incineration, or by a…