Archive for the ‘Waste’ Category

Don’t waste food …

New Year and Christmas led me to think about “how much food is thrown unnecessarily?”.  Usually we prepare food in large quantities, because the human eye is greedy and the table should be full (overfull) no matter that only half of what is served will be eaten, and the rest will end up in garbage bins. Let’s not forget that while we behave irresponsibly with food many people barely manage to get one meal per day.

Have you ever wondered how much food is throw it in the world daily? This is what data says – in America just in 2010 are throw away 34 million tonnes food and only 3% from that are recycled or reuse, remaining 33 million tons ended up in landfills or in ovens for destruction. In addition the above figures, the average American family unnecessarily throws usually 600$ from its budget by unused food that ends up as waste. This is something which forces me to think about … what about you?
The situation in the EU is worrying, too. Figures show that in EU 89 million tons of foods, which is 179 kg per capita, are thrown away annually. The EU institutions aware of the magnitude of the problem has already taken steps to overcome it. The European Parliament called in a resolution adopted on 01/19/2012 for urgent measures to halve food waste by 2025 and to improve access to food for needy EU citizens.

Today, food represents the largest percentage of solid waste, which is normal because there is no life without food. If we approach to this problem with bigger awareness and change our habits we will have both environmental and economic benefit. Food waste will be significantly reduced if we do our buying with plan for necessary stuff for next few days not by grabbing everything we see on the markets. At the same time, more money will remain in our wallets that could be spent for other purpose or need.

But let me going back to the thought and the problem. Food should not necessarily end up in trash bins along with the overall waste. For example:
–    food can be given to those who need it, certainly if still usable. In our country there are many poor families and public kitchens where such food may well be used.
–    food could be used for production of quality compost without pesticides and other chemical. With proper treatment can prepare high quality food without additives for domestic animals. Previously we have written post how to prepare compost.
–    you could extend foods shelf life through processing. For example:
1.    if the tomatoes have started to soften in refrigerator, don’t wait to rotten but crumble them in minor pieces and cook them. That is how you will prepare tomato sauce which can be used in preparation or as a dressing for other meals.
2.    by the rice that you have prepared as a side order for lunch could  be prepared delicious and nutritious meal with simple adding of vegetables and some spices.

Such examples are so many, our grandmothers and mothers used them quite often in the past, but unfortunately we are forgetting this. It is easier for us to get rid of food by throwing it in the trash.
It would be nice if examples what I mention could reach people from commercial facilities, too, and food what is prepared in restaurants daily or food with close deadlines – from the shelves of supermarkets and retail markets, will not became a part of the municipal waste.
Therefore, in future, when you will go to purchase some food think if it is really necessary to buy that food that or you could go home without it, or if you have some food leftovers how would you treat it and where it will end.


Paper – recycle!

Recycling is the separation of materials from waste and their reuse. Include collection, separation, processing and manufacturing of new products by already used objects and materials. It is very important to make proper separation of waste so that many materials can be reused if they are collected separately. Without involvement of recycling in everyday life, it is difficult to imagine the process of waste management.

What can be recycled? All material in their composition paper, glass, cardboard, aluminum, iron, ceramics, plastic (polymer materials), etc.


Paper is produced by processing of wood by means of various chemical and that process do destruction of large areas of forests and pollution of the environment. The collection of old paper and its recycling contributes to:

  • Less environmental damage
  • 60% Energy savings compared to getting a paper from wood
  • 15% Less water consumption in terms of getting the paper from wood

In the countries of European Union annually are processed in between 50-60% of waste from which most concerns the metal processing industry. It is followed by recovery, recycling and re-manufacture of paper and therefore the collection and selection of old paper (that is basic raw material in the process) is one of the best organized. In addition to recycling paper significantly affect the environment in a positive direction, also this kind of treatment could be a profitable business, too. Austrian group “MM”, which covers more than 60% from the European market (where annually about 1.5 million tons of different types of cards) the biggest part of the business incude manufacturing from recycling. Also producer “RENO DE MEDICI” delivers annually about one million tons of cardboard packaging.

Fast and simple way of recycling – only 15-30 minutes from cardboard to paper for reuse

Most widespread method to recycle used cardboard boxes for packaging of drinks is the process of separating the fibers in factories for recycling paper. The process includes placing the paper and boxes in large barrels with water and their mixing. With this proces fibers can split and the paper is cleaved very quick. The fibers soak up water and turned into a great mixture of water/soaked fibers. All non paper elements such as plastics float on the surface or sink to the bottom, so they can be easily removed by scraping or sieving through a sieve. This process usually takes 15-30 minutes and draws most of the fibers. The obtained fibers can still be used for the production of newspapers, paper bags, paper handkerchiefs, rib-cardboard box and so on.

What types of paper can be recycled?

All types of notebooks, notepads, written sheets of paper, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and flyers, paper copy in color, envelopes, cardboard boxes, cardboard wrapping, carton bags, all types of cards from purchased products in a retail and wholesale, paper packs from milk, yogurt, juices and so on and so on.


1. Recycle paper – do not dispose newspapers! With recycling of collected paper from your home or office you will save destruction and cutting of trees!

2. Recycle paper – processing and recycling of old paper use 15% less water. Some data indicate that recycling one ton of office paper, we save 17 trees, 4.200 kilowatts energy and 32.000 liter of water!

3. Make a selection of paper from glass, plastics, metals, organic waste and dispose it in special bins solely for the paper. That will be your contribution in managing paper waste – sending it to the recycling place, not on the landfills!

4. Use paper products several times!

5. Lobby for the adoption of laws on compulsory selection and recycling of waste paper!

Author is member of Greener,

graduate engineer technologist – polymer engineering.


** This blog post is Greener’s contribution for

     World paper free day 2011

The black water …

Few days ago, I saw an article on the news about leackage of waste water from the landfill “Drisla” into river Markova Reka. The head of public enterprise “Drisla”, had a statement in which among other things, he said, “It looks frightful in principle, I think, when you see a black water, but it is black because passes through the waste. It certainly contains dangerous substances, definitely, as each sewer pipe contains, to say, certain concentrations are higher.” The full statement and article about can be found at the following link.

Because I don’t want to remain indifferent to what happens to the environment I would like to point out what is actually found in that landfill leachate and why it not only looks frightful, but it is really frightful for the environment and human health.

The major potential environmental impacts related to landfill leachate are pollution of groundwater and surface waters. In a landfill that receives a mixture of municipal, commercial, and mixed industrial waste, but excludes significant amounts of concentrated specific chemical waste, landfill leachate may be characterized as a water-based solution of four groups of contaminants:

  • Dissolved organic matter – alcohols, acids, aldehydes, short chain sugars etc..
  • Inorganic macrocomponents – calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, ammonium, iron, manganese, aluminium, chloride, sulfate and hydrogen carbonate.
  • Heavy metals: cadmium, chromium, mercury, copper, lead, nickel and zinc.
  • Xenobiotic organic compounds (XOCs) such as halogenated organics (PCBs, dioxins) originating from household or industrial chemicals. These compounds include among others a variety of aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, chlorinated aliphatics, pesticides, and plastizers.

Other compounds may be found in leachate from landfills: for example, borate, sulfide, arsenate, selenate, barium, lithium and cobalt.

The tables below show the possible health effects of some chemicals that can be found in household waste and which are dumped into the landfill and if not properly controlled could leak out as leachate.

Table 1: Health effects caused by acute exposure



Health effects from acute exposure


Glues and paints

Euphoria, excitement, tremor, CNS depression, convulsions, coma

Phenols and cresols


Burning pain in mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, pallor, sweating, shock, coma,


Solvent, starting material in chemical manufacture

Single exposure unlikely to cause problem


Manufacture of batteries, colouring ceramics and glass

Skin – irritation and dermatitis

Ingestion – stomatitis, gingivitis and possible diarrhoea

Cadmium compounds

Paint and batteries

Inhalation- delayed features 12-36 hrs, hypersalivation, metallic taste, cough, dysponea, chest pain.  Pneumonitis and pulmonary oedema develop within 1-4 days

Ingestion – small amounts ingested GI irritation, nausea and diarrhoea within 15-30 mins. Larger amounts affect calcium and zinc metabolism, cause facial and pulmonary oedema.

Skin – irritation


Lead paint (apply to older landfill sites), pottery, cosmetics and some ethnic remedies

Severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea with black stools, vomiting, hypotension, cramps, headache, confusion, drowsiness, coma and seizures secondary to cerebral oedema.


Lamps, thermometers

Bloody diarrhoea, intestinal mucosal necrosis, dehydration, circulatory collapse, proteinuria and renal failure


Table 2: Health effects from chronic exposure to chemicals

Chemical Health effects from chronic exposure
Toluene/xylene Ventricular arrhythmias, hepatic and renal necrosis
Phenols and cresols Renal failure
Benzene Haematological abnormalities
Cadmium compounds Fumes – anaemia, kidney damage, possible prostate and lung cancer.
Lead Anorexia, abdominal pain and constipation. Toxic megacolon, headaches, fatigue, depression, dropped wrist, proximal renal tubular dysfunction, chronic nephropathy and hypertension.
Mercury CNS – irritability, tremour, memory loss, seizures, coma

Respiratory – necrotising bronchitis, pulmonary oedema, ARDS, pulmonary haemorrhage.

GI – metallic taste, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomatatis, blue-line along gum margin

Renal – proteuria, haematuria and acute renal failure

Eyes – grey or brown lens discolouration, band shaped corneal opacities

Haematological – thrombocytopenia, anaemia secondary to GI bleed.


Please note that the information presented in this post are not directly related to the composition of the leachate from the landfill Drisla, but gives general information about the most common pollution from landfills. It aim is to draw attention for taking measures to protect the environment, in order to protect our health. At the same time once again I’m emphasizing the need of proper and responsible waste management.

It remains to believe that the collector which will purify leachate from Drisla will be ready in two months and to hope that will never see this picture of black water again.


* Tables are taken from the following link.

E-waste? What? How? (part two)

E-waste is not just a plain waste. The many different components that you can find in it are opening a completely new chapter, so instead simply disposed in landfills it can be re-used or recycled and re-join in the country’s economy. It contains useful elements that can be back into commerce, to create jobs and to bring about economic development.

Increasing the recycling rate of all electronic devices is not only imperative for protecting public health, but also for conserving natural resources. The challenge for the planet is educating consumers, developing a convenient infrastructure that recycles e-waste responsibly, and covering the costs.

This is how responsible e-waste recycling carries great benefits for the economy and for the environment:

  • Allows recovery of valuable precious metals.

Three main materials being recovered from e-waste are metals, glass and plastics. It is believed that the e-waste has about 50% non-colored metal, about 5% colored metals and 20-25% plastics. Printed Wiring Boards (PWB) contain the highest value metals as well as some of the most toxic metals found in electronics scrap.There are 10 to 100 times more precious metals in PWBs than in an equal weight of ore taken from a mine. For example: in traditional gold-mining operations, a company would need to move an entire ton of ore to extract 1 gram of gold. But, through the far simpler and cheaper process of recycling, it is possible to extract the same amount of gold from 41 discarded mobile phones.

While some of these mined metals eventually end up as pieces of jewelry or other valuables, more often than not they are used to create common household electronics.

The majority of electronic devices are currently being recovered for precious metals (gold, silver and platinum) and copper.

  • Protects environment and public health.

Recycling disables long e-waste disposal in the landfills. That means that e-waste toxins can’t be released into the atmosphere or seep in through the land and have negative health and environmental effects.

About 50% of the WEEE mass consists of colored metals, mainly steel. Collection and recycling of this material is usually achieved savings of 74% energy, 76% of water pollution and 86% air pollution in relation to primary production of steel.

  • Creating jobs

Recycling e-waste creates jobs for professional recyclers and refurbishers and creates new markets for the valuable components that are dismantled.

Materials recycling from waste generate 5-7 times more jobs than required for combustion, and 10 times more jobs than it takes to remove the landfill. The EU thematic strategy on prevention and recycling is considering that waste management and recycling sector in the EU27 are provided from 1.2 to 1.5 million jobs.

For better explanation, these means that on every 1,000 tons of waste electronics:

– Landfilled less than 1 job is created

– Recycled 15 jobs are created

– Repaired 200 jobs are created (on the other hand this activity is providing the opportunity for low income students and families to obtain low-cost working computers)

  • Saves landfill space.

Recycling e-waste will help conserve landfill space. While the weight represented by used electronics is not dramatic, the volume that these items represent in landfills is proportionally more significant because of the bulk and rigidity of these materials. Recycling eliminates the need to build the equivalent of one new large landfill each year, either at a remote, rural location or near a residential neighborhood, thus avoiding environmental concerns, such as air and water pollution and truck traffic.


Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.

To be continued …

“E-waste – problem we must find solution for” in support of Clean Up the World

Batteries – enemies of the environment

Spent batteries and accumulators mixed with municipal waste in landfills across the country pose a serious threat to human health and the environment due to toxic acids and heavy metals they contain. Inadequate treated waste batteries and accumulator are poisoning us with lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium, since these dangerous substances leak into soil and groundwater. Just for illustration – a cadmium rechargeable cell phone battery pollutes 600,000 liters of water. That would mean that 3 such batteries can contaminate an Olympic pool. And did you know that only 1 gram of mercury is enough to contaminate 400 liters of water? Therefore they should not be disposed together with the other municipal waste but handled by strictly established procedure.

Starting from 29.10.2010, in accordance with EU Directive 2006/66/EC, in the Republic of Macedonia is in force a law on management of waste batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, according to which ” It is prohibited to leave or teach waste batteries and accumulators in areas designated for collection and selection of municipal household waste or other waste”. The law applies to batteries (all batteries, battery packs, batteries in the form of a button, car batteries, industrial batteries) or accumilators, regardless of their shape, volume, weight, material that is made or intended for use.

The situation in Macedonia
Macedonia annually collects over 300 tonnes of waste batteries and accumulators.
Field surveys made by members of the “4x4x4 Balkan Bridges”, showed that the average household in Macedonia spend from 0.3 to 0.7 pounds of batteries per year, small and medium-sized companies from 0.6 to 0.9, and the media to 0 , 5 kg. At the end of 2009 in Macedonia had more than 30 million batteries and over 3.5 tons of car batteries that are improperly stored and pollute the environment.
Previously mentioned law set minimum rates of collection of portable waste batteries and accumulators – by the end of 2016, to collect a minimum of 25% by weight of batteries and accumulators that are placed on the market in the Republic of Macedonia and a minimum of 45 % by the end of 2020.

What can we do?

The participation of end users in reducing the negative impact of batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators on the environment have paramount importance:

–         Old car battery take it to traders who are permitted to purchase and handling of waste batteries and get a discount on the price of a new battery.

–         Do not ever throw small batteries in the same place with municipal waste and make them easy way to the landfill also giving them a direct opportunity for contamination of soil and water.

–         Make sure that your batteries are not affecting the environment with harmful mercury so that you choose batteries with silver oxide or mercury-free lithium-manganese batteries. Choosing products without mercury may reduce the annual use of mercury to 470 kg.

–         Use rechargeable batteries and save energy (eg multipurpose batteries are ideal environmental alternative to conventional alkaline batteries – with their use dramatically is reduced the number of discarded alkaline batteries).

It is important to note that scientists are involved in this fight with dangerous substances and work intensively on reducing the negative impact of batteries on the environment and people. One of their innovations is the so-called Bio-battery that generate electricity using enzymes break carbohydrates in the form of glucose. These batteries apply the innate ability of organisms to get energy from nutrients, which, instead of being used for life activities, are used to create electricity.

E-waste? What? How? (part one)

“Law for management of electrical and electronic equipment and waste electrical and electronic equipment” categorizes electrical and electronic equipment as:

  1. large household appliances;
  2. small home appliances;
  3. equipment for information technology and telecommunications;
  4. wide consumer equipment and electronics for entertainment;
  5. lighting equipment;
  6. electrical and electronic appliances (except large stationary industrial tools);
  7. electrical and electronic equipment and toys for fun and sport;
  8. medical devices (except devices that can cause infection or radiation);
  9. tools for monitoring and control, and
  10. automatic machines.

E-waste includes waste from electrical and electronic equipment.
World faces expansion in technology development, so we easy become part of the great consumer society – buy, spend, throw … Unfortunately, our unnecessary electrical and electronic equipment often is improperly discard and usually ends with the rest of waste on the city’s overall waste landfills, dumps, in the cellars, attics or on other places – as far from our eyes.

Have you ever wondered what’s going on with your computer, TV or other household appliance from which you get rid on this or that way? What do you think, what is their impact on the environment and human health?
We encourage you to think about …

E-waste contains many harmful substances that negatively affect the environment, human and animal health if improperly handled. With inadequate and irresponsible handling of this type of waste and it disposal in nature it directly delays to soil and water and pollute them. It is particularly important to highlight the presence of:

Lead – can damage the central and peripheral nervous system of humans, there are registered effects of the endocrine system and can affect the cardiovascular system and kidneys. Lead is accumulated in the environment and has high acute and chronic toxic effects on plants, animals and microorganisms.

Cadmium – classified as toxic with a possible risk of irreversible effects on human health. Cadmium and cadmium compounds accumulate in the human body, especially in the kidneys and over time can lead to serious damage. Prolonged exposure to cadmium chloride may cause cancer.

Mercury – Methyl mercury easily accumulates in living organisms and concentrates through the food chain through fish. Methyl mercury has chronic effects and causes brain damage.

Hexavalent chromium (VI Cr) – is easily absorbed and produces different toxic effects in cells. Chromium VI causes very strong allergic reactions, such as asthmatic bronchitis, for example. Chromium VI considered potentially damaging to DNA.

Brominated burning flame retarder – are regularly used in electronic products as a means of protection from fire. More scientific observations indicate that polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) act on the endocrine system. When polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) will be released into the environment, they can enter the food chain.

To be continued …

“E-waste – problem we must find solution for” in support of Clean Up the World Weekend


It’s cleaning time: Towards a Cleaner Tomorrow

Although this month started under the impressions of The European Basketball Championship of 2011 we’ll still keep the line of green living.

Somehow September is the month when preparations for the winter and autumn cleansing traditionally begin, so our goal is to make you think about what you’re doing with unnecessary stuff from your home.

Therefore, under the motto “cleaner.” we devote this month to waste management and its importance. During September expect activities and posts dedicated to e-waste, waste batteries, plastic wastes, etc.

For start up, keep in mind that careful waste management minimises negative effect on the environment & human health.

In this context, is there any topic you’d like to read about?

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