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from Photographers' Blog:

Turning trash into dreams

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Asuncion, Paraguay

By Jorge Adorno

Throughout my life I have always been struck by how music, as a part of culture, is a white flag in many circumstances of life, especially in times of conflict. Even the Germans found time to attend concerts during war.

The other day I went to the education center in the Asuncion neighborhood of Cateura called Vy’a Renda, meaning Place of Joy in the Guaraní language, where I found youths building their future in a place of extreme poverty. It’s a school with curtains drawn over broken windows, but which houses diamonds in the rough in the form of children studying music and playing in an orchestra. Their instruments are built of material recycled from trash, giving the orchestra its name, the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura.

The orchestra’s director, Favio Chavez, was an amateur musician apart from being an environmental engineer at the Cateura municipal garbage dump. In 2006 he decided to help the children of the dozens of garbage pickers by forming a music school with the five instruments he managed to acquire.

He soon had more students than instruments, until one of the pickers named Nicolas Gomez presented him with an instrument he had made from material recycled from the dump.

from Photographers' Blog:

Garbage recycling: Chinese style

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Beijing, China

By Kim Kyung-Hoon

When I heard that the rate of recycling PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles in China is almost 90%, I was surprised. Because I have noticed since moving to Beijing that the Chinese have no real concept of separating trash for recycling.

So, how do they accomplish it?

The first place I visited in tracking down the recycling process of PET bottles was Asia’s largest recycling factory, INCOM Resources Recovery in Beijing, which processes 50,000 tons of used PET bottles every year. In this factory, abandoned plastic bottles are transformed into clean PET plastic material for making new bottles. But what struck me the most was neither its automated machinery nor its huge piles of compressed plastic bottles stacked almost to the height of a two-story building. The more remarkable fact was that this high-end facility relies on thousands of garbage collectors rummaging through trash cans for more than one third of its supplies

from Global Investing:

There’s cash in that trash

There's cash in that trash.

Analysts at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch are expounding opportunities to profit from the burgeoning waste disposal industry, which it estimates at $1 trillion at present but says could double within the next decade. They have compiled a list of more than 80 companies which may benefit most from the push for recycling waste, generating energy from biomass and building facilities to process or reduce waste. It's an industry that is likely to grow exponentially as incomes rise, especially in emerging economies, BofA/ML says in a note:

We believe that the global dynamics of waste volumes mean that waste management offers numerous opportunities for those with exposure to the value chain. We see opportunities across waste management, industrial treatment, waste-to-energy, wastewater & sewage,...recycling, and sustainable packaging among other areas.

from Photographers' Blog:

A recycling hero

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Santana do Parnaiba, Brazil

By Paulo Whitaker

Today's Brazil is synonymous with great promise, as the country of the future with tremendous economic potential. But in terms of our care for the environment, we are far from being a global example.

Although we are the world champion in recycling aluminium cans, we still have many polluted rivers and cities, and our rainforests are being devastated to make room for soybeans, cattle and sugar cane. Recycling cans is high thanks only to the thousands of poor who survive by collecting them.

from India Insight:

Electronic waste rules: In letter, but without spirit

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Ever wondered what happens to your old mobile phones, computers, television sets and refrigerators the moment you discard them? They are most likely to land in an unauthorised scrap yard waiting to be recycled in a hazardous and unscientific manner -- causing great damage to the environment. The rapid growth of the information technology sector in India has only contributed to this problem of accumulating e-waste or electronic waste.

The government finally woke up to this growing problem a couple of years ago when studies by its information technology department estimated the e-waste burden on the country to touch 800,000 metric tonnes by December. It responded by framing the e-waste (management and handling) rules - 2011 which came into effect this month. While the rules seem impressive on paper, environmental groups have expressed concerns about its ability to bring about change due to the sheer oversight of the ground situation.

from Photographers' Blog:

Dumpster diving with freegans

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By Ben Nelms

I never thought I would say "that’s delicious" after taking a bite out of expired and moderately warm cashew ice-cream. This was one of the many presumptions that would be broken in my time spent with this intriguing group of "urban gleaners."

A "Freegan" is someone who gathers edible food from the dumpster bins of grocery stores or food stands that would otherwise have been thrown away. This is usually due to being past an expiration date or being damaged. Bread, fruit and vegetables, canned goods and even ice-cream is found and given a second chance.

from Photographers' Blog:

The hunt for treasure

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By Mariana Bazo

On my numerous trips around the outskirts of Lima I’ve long been struck by the sight of elderly women combing garbage dumps and lugging huge bags filled with recyclable items. I’ve photographed several of them and while talking to them I always get the same story – they pick up bottles, paper and cans they can sell later, and that little money allows them to survive. Some of the women are abandoned and have no relatives, but others prefer to live on their own means rather than depending on handouts. It’s common to hear them say that this is the only job they can get at their age. I often notice a certain glimpse of happiness when they talk about their hard-earned independence.

Peru’s national statistics bureau has published figures that older adults who don’t have retirement plans are forced to develop strategies for survival, to avoid being economically dependent and socially vulnerable, and these garbage pickers fit exactly that description. Many poor elderly women are excluded from social services and have never been in the formal workplace. Many are Andean migrants without the same education opportunities as men, to the extent where many are illiterate.

from Environment Forum:

Is this the greenest office on Earth?

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Every workstation has a view. Much of the lighting comes from reflected sunshine. It's so naturally quiet that unobtrusive speakers pipe in "white noise" to preserve a level of privacy. The windows open, and they're shaded in such a way that there's no glare. Even with the windows closed, fresh air circulates through vents in the floor. Extreme recycling prevails, not just of bottles, cans and kitchen refuse but beetle-blighted wood.

Welcome to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which contains some of the greenest office space on the planet.

from Shop Talk:

Check Out Line: Bring a mug, get free Starbucks java, save the world

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mugsCheck out how Starbucks is working to persuade you to help save the planet by using fewer of its iconic paper cups.

On Thursday the company, which hands out about 4.75 million cups a day, is giving away free coffee to everyone who brings in a reusable mug or travel tumbler.

from UK News:

Cash for Trash? Tories offer a recycling sweetner

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BRITAIN/On Tuesday, the Tories, still ahead in the opinion polls and widely expected to gain power in an election, which must be held by June 2010, went on a green charm offensive.

It's unlikely to steal the election, but it nevertheless got heads turning and newspapers gnashing.

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