Testing the mettle of the aluminum cup

March 23, 2020 by  
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Which is better: reusable, unrecyclable plastic or single-use, recyclable aluminum?

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Testing the mettle of the aluminum cup

‘Red flag for COP26’: Most high-carbon companies shooting ‘wide of the mark’ for a 2C world

March 23, 2020 by  
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Investor-led Transitions Pathway Initiative warns four in five firms in carbon-intensive sectors currently fail Paris Agreement test.

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‘Red flag for COP26’: Most high-carbon companies shooting ‘wide of the mark’ for a 2C world

Mine waste dams threaten the environment, even when they don’t fail

March 17, 2020 by  
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The environmental damage and human health hazards that these activities create may be both severe and irreversible.

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Mine waste dams threaten the environment, even when they don’t fail

Minimalist home in the Brazilian countryside is made from mining waste

December 6, 2019 by  
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Brazilian architectural firm Gustavo Penna Arquiteto e Associados (GPA&A) has unveiled a tiny, minimalist home with a small stature that conceals a powerhouse of sustainable design. Located in a former mining region, the architects decided to build the 484-square-foot Sustentable House out of bricks manufactured from mining sludge waste. The family home is also installed with solar panels and a wind turbine to produce energy and heat water. Additionally, the residence is almost completely zero-waste thanks to an integrated waste water treatment system and organic waste incinerator. The small home is located in the pristine, mountainous area of Ouro Branco, once an important base located on the transportation route from the mines of Minas Gerais to the coast. Paying homage to the region’s history, the architects were able to construct the Sustentable House with bricks made out of the byproducts of mining . Related: Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada Tucked into an open lot surrounded by forest, the house sits on a small, flat plot of a sloping hill. The volume has a cube-like base topped with a slanted rooftop. The sloped roof was an important factor in protecting the interior from direct sunlight . The roof was also installed with a small solar array that heats water for the residence, although it will eventually power the entire home. At the front of the building, a wall rises up past the slanted rooftop. The cutout space in this section is outfitted with a wind turbine that generates energy for the home. The design also incorporates an organic waste incinerator that produces energy through hot air and an integrated, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system that can be used as an additional power system. All of these sustainable features are wrapped up in one gorgeous design. The two-bedroom house’s brick walls wrap around the exterior and interior, except for the front facade, which is made out of floor-to-ceiling glass panels. The wide glass doors slide open completely, opening up the living room to the great outdoors. This allows the homeowners to enjoy unobstructed views of the mountains and valleys that stretch out across the horizon. + GPA&A Via ArchDaily Photography by Jomar Bragança via GPA&A

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Minimalist home in the Brazilian countryside is made from mining waste

Rare earth minerals power the world, but mining leaves local and global footprints in the land

October 4, 2019 by  
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The mining industry has work to do to ensure that communities and workers are safe from pollution and injury.

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Rare earth minerals power the world, but mining leaves local and global footprints in the land

Dig for legitimacy: The case for good ESG in mining

September 12, 2019 by  
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Increasing scrutiny has delivered major improvements in the mining industry’s approach to environmental and social governance.

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Dig for legitimacy: The case for good ESG in mining

Restaurants are helping to drive carbon farming practices

September 12, 2019 by  
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The industry that’s bigger than agriculture and retail can incentivize regenerative land management practices.

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Restaurants are helping to drive carbon farming practices

4 reasons why urban landscapes are a linchpin for climate resilience

September 12, 2019 by  
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Properly designed and managed using sustainable landscape strategies, outdoor areas can help communities significantly.

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4 reasons why urban landscapes are a linchpin for climate resilience

How much carbon dioxide is actually in your products?

August 8, 2019 by  
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Production might be out of sight, out of mind, but CO2 is embedded in products through minerals and materials. How do we measure it?

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How much carbon dioxide is actually in your products?

Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

May 23, 2019 by  
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The world’s largest and perhaps most destructive mining industry is rarely discussed. Approximately 85 percent of all material mined from the earth is a simple and widely available resource: sand. Because it is so cheap and readily available, it is mined by everyone from guy with a shovel, to multi-million dollar machine operations. The majority of sand is used to make concrete, but the displacement of sand leads to the catastrophic destruction of coastal, sea bed and river ecosystems and topography. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 40 billion tons of sand are mined every year, but since the market is corrupt, hidden and decentralized there have been no comprehensive studies to date. In order to get a rough number, the United Nation’s used global cement production and sales figures to approximate how much sand is collected. For example, every ton of cement requires six to seven tons of sand and gravel in order to make concrete. Related: Mining in Tasmania raises water pollution concerns to a new high The environmental impact Sand mining, especially when done without regulation or oversight, can damage rivers, cause beach erosion and destroy coastal ecosystems . At least 24 Indonesian islands disappeared off the map just to build Singapore. Since sand dredging occurs primarily for construction purposes, miners target river and coastal ecosystems where the sand is ideal. River sand is particularly perfect for concrete because it is coarse and does not contain salt that would otherwise corrode metal and other building materials. In addition to disturbing riverbed and river bank ecosystems, altering the flow and capacity of rivers can cause drought or disastrous flooding– though rarely recognized as a contributing factor. In Kerala, India, flooding was found to be partially caused by sand dredging that took 40 times more sand out of the river bed than the river could naturally replace. Dredging sea grass habitat can also cause sediment to drift for miles causing both coastal erosion and smothering ecosystems like coral reefs . Erosion, land subsidence and the introduction of heavy machinery and vehicles into delicate habitats also threatens the integrity of nearby infrastructure such as roads and bridges. One study found that every ton of sand taken from a river in California cost taxpayers $3 in infrastructure damage. Cities’ demand for sand Development and urbanization are expanding rapidly in every corner of the world to accommodate an exponentially growing population and our insatiable rates of consumption and expansion. According to the United Nations, the number of people living in cities is more than four times what it was in the 1950s. Over 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas with nearly three billion additional people expected to migrate to cities in the next 30 years. In addition to new buildings, sand is also used for land expansion projects. In China , it is a common practice to dump sand on top of coral reefs to speed the process of building land. Dubai is also famous for its man-made islands, which required millions of tons of sand. Singapore has added over 50 square miles of land in the past four decades and more skyscrapers in the last 10 years than all of New York City— a feat that required over 500 million tons of sand. The creation of Singapore was so rapid that Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam all banned the export of sand, but miners simply moved to Lake Poyang on the Yangtze River. The WWF calls this Lake the largest sand mine in the world, but it is tragically also Asia’s largest destination for migratory birds . Sand dredging activities have more than doubled the river’s capacity in certain areas, draining parts of the lake and reducing key fisheries. “It’s the same story as over-fishing and over-foresting,” says Pascal Peduzzi, from the United Nations Environment Program. “It’s another way to look at unsustainable development .” The scale of the problem is enormous and the consequences of moving massive amounts of life-and land-sustaining material from one place to another is glaring but the world remains functionally oblivious, blinded by the desire for new buildings and up-and-coming neighborhoods. Related: NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change Can sand dredging be done sustainably? River ecologists suggest that sand dredging in rivers should only be done up to a pre-determined quota that allows the river to annually replenish sediment. However, this sustainable number will never equal humanity’s unsustainable need for development. There are a number of suggestions to improve the sustainability of the industry, but none are perfect: Offshore sand mining Britain now sources much of its sand further offshore in order to protect river and coastal ecosystems, however, much of this sand is only used for land reclamation projects where the salt content is not a concern. Sandy bottom reservoirs Another untapped source is the sand that collects at the bottom of reservoirs. Dredging reservoirs could not only provide sand but also helps to expand storage capacity. Ecologists, however, argue that this sand should technically be put back into the rivers that feed into reservoirs. Recycling glass and rubble Rubble from demolished buildings can be used to produce concrete, reducing the need for fresh sand. Glass can also be recycled , which again reduces the need for sand. Mining on flood plains Limited mining on floodplains, rather than riverbanks and riverbeds, is thought to be less destructive. However, floodplains also have fragile ecosystems. In Australia, floodplains are home to rare carnivorous plant species that are now at risk from mining activities. Replacing sand in concrete Ash from incinerators and dust from stone quarries can be used in the production of concrete to reduce the demand for sand. Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Shutterstock

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Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

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