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Lithium battery recycling, an endless cycle for waste in Costa Rica

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Monday, March 13, 2023

In a world trying to move towards an environmentally sustainable model, what to do with millions of spent batteries? A pioneering company recycles this waste in Costa Rica in search of a circular economy future. Phones, laptops, tablets, electric vehicles and solar receivers need lithium batteries to operate. The question is what to do with them when they run out and become garbage that takes 500 years to decompose. “Today we know that garbage does not exist, we know that they are resources that we can renew”, says to AFP Guillermo Pereira, general director of Fortech, a company based in Cartago, 27 km east of San José, dedicated for 27 years to the recycling of technological products and for the last six years of lithium batteries. Some 1,500 tons of batteries fall into disuse annually in Costa Rica, says Francisco, the company’s project manager. Urban mining While mining multinationals seek to extract lithium from the salt flats of Chile, Bolivia or Australia, in Costa Rica this company innovates with “urban mining” that recycles minerals. He adds that “the world needs a circular economy”, that is, one that recycles and renews existing products for as long as possible in order to reverse climate change. The batteries are collected at collection points in shopping malls, electronics stores or electric vehicle dealerships. Daniel Rivas, technical manager in charge of batteries at Fortech, said that they are looking to “recover the materials to be able to carry out urban mining” and not have to “go to a mine to do more damage to the environment”. Mining is prohibited by law in Costa Rica. This Fortech plant “makes Costa Rica a pioneer in Latin America in the valorization of used lithium batteries,” notes the German Development Cooperation Agency GIZ. The University of Aachen in Germany estimates that by 2028 the amount of discarded batteries will exceed the recycling capacity in Europe. Blackmass When the lithium batteries arrive at Fortech’s industrial plant, they pass through a mechanical belt that feeds them into a shredder to generate a scrap of various metals. When these metals are separated in the lab, they result in “blackmass,” a grayish powder composed of cobalt oxide, nickel, manganese and lithium. “They are the fundamental part of the battery. They are scarce metals, high cost in the market, so it is important to recover them, in addition to the fact that their disposal by traditional means produces pollution in the environment,” said Henry Prado, a chemist at Fortech. This gray powder is decomposed to separate the metals, but the company has not yet implemented this process. Therefore, it sells the material obtained to industries in Europe dedicated to refining the material and manufacturing new batteries with the lithium in the “blackmass”. By 2035, some 1.4 million tons of batteries for recycling will be produced annually in Europe alone, according to estimates by the University of Aachen. Of each battery recycled, 57% of the resulting material is blackmass. The rest is copper, aluminum, plastic or iron, which is also sold for recycling. A ton of blackmass costs an average of $8,000 on the international market. Environmental care Beyond the production of new batteries from extracts of old ones, this eliminates the pollution produced by these materials if they are disposed of in the environment, says Prado. In addition, “it means we don’t have to go to natural sources to extract them,” he adds. The chemist explains that each ton of lithium extracted from battery recycling generates a quarter of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by traditional lithium mining. This mineral, called “white gold” or “oil of the 21st century,” has seen its price soar from $5,700 a ton in November 2020 to $60,500 in September 2022 thanks to the rise of electric vehicles, in the race to abandon fossil fuels. But the dark side of lithium recovery is that each extraction plant consumes millions of liters of water per day. Claus Kruse, representative of the German Cooperation Agency in Costa Rica, which is assisting Fortech in its innovation, points out that they are looking to achieve a global recycling chain. “The batteries that arrive from Asia, Europe or the United States to Costa Rica are used here, end their useful life, are recycled, the materials are recovered and sent, for example, to Europe for the production of new batteries in a circular economy logic,” said Kruse. The post Lithium battery recycling, an endless cycle for waste in Costa Rica appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.

In a world trying to move towards an environmentally sustainable model, what to do with millions of spent batteries? A pioneering company recycles this waste in Costa Rica in search of a circular economy future. Phones, laptops, tablets, electric vehicles and solar receivers need lithium batteries to operate. The question is what to do with […] The post Lithium battery recycling, an endless cycle for waste in Costa Rica appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.

In a world trying to move towards an environmentally sustainable model, what to do with millions of spent batteries? A pioneering company recycles this waste in Costa Rica in search of a circular economy future.

Phones, laptops, tablets, electric vehicles and solar receivers need lithium batteries to operate. The question is what to do with them when they run out and become garbage that takes 500 years to decompose.

“Today we know that garbage does not exist, we know that they are resources that we can renew”, says to AFP Guillermo Pereira, general director of Fortech, a company based in Cartago, 27 km east of San José, dedicated for 27 years to the recycling of technological products and for the last six years of lithium batteries.

Some 1,500 tons of batteries fall into disuse annually in Costa Rica, says Francisco, the company’s project manager.

Urban mining

While mining multinationals seek to extract lithium from the salt flats of Chile, Bolivia or Australia, in Costa Rica this company innovates with “urban mining” that recycles minerals.

He adds that “the world needs a circular economy”, that is, one that recycles and renews existing products for as long as possible in order to reverse climate change.

The batteries are collected at collection points in shopping malls, electronics stores or electric vehicle dealerships.

Daniel Rivas, technical manager in charge of batteries at Fortech, said that they are looking to “recover the materials to be able to carry out urban mining” and not have to “go to a mine to do more damage to the environment”. Mining is prohibited by law in Costa Rica.

This Fortech plant “makes Costa Rica a pioneer in Latin America in the valorization of used lithium batteries,” notes the German Development Cooperation Agency GIZ.

The University of Aachen in Germany estimates that by 2028 the amount of discarded batteries will exceed the recycling capacity in Europe.

Blackmass

When the lithium batteries arrive at Fortech’s industrial plant, they pass through a mechanical belt that feeds them into a shredder to generate a scrap of various metals.

When these metals are separated in the lab, they result in “blackmass,” a grayish powder composed of cobalt oxide, nickel, manganese and lithium.

“They are the fundamental part of the battery. They are scarce metals, high cost in the market, so it is important to recover them, in addition to the fact that their disposal by traditional means produces pollution in the environment,” said Henry Prado, a chemist at Fortech.

This gray powder is decomposed to separate the metals, but the company has not yet implemented this process.

Therefore, it sells the material obtained to industries in Europe dedicated to refining the material and manufacturing new batteries with the lithium in the “blackmass”.

By 2035, some 1.4 million tons of batteries for recycling will be produced annually in Europe alone, according to estimates by the University of Aachen.

Of each battery recycled, 57% of the resulting material is blackmass. The rest is copper, aluminum, plastic or iron, which is also sold for recycling. A ton of blackmass costs an average of $8,000 on the international market.

Environmental care

Beyond the production of new batteries from extracts of old ones, this eliminates the pollution produced by these materials if they are disposed of in the environment, says Prado.

In addition, “it means we don’t have to go to natural sources to extract them,” he adds. The chemist explains that each ton of lithium extracted from battery recycling generates a quarter of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by traditional lithium mining.

This mineral, called “white gold” or “oil of the 21st century,” has seen its price soar from $5,700 a ton in November 2020 to $60,500 in September 2022 thanks to the rise of electric vehicles, in the race to abandon fossil fuels.

But the dark side of lithium recovery is that each extraction plant consumes millions of liters of water per day.

Claus Kruse, representative of the German Cooperation Agency in Costa Rica, which is assisting Fortech in its innovation, points out that they are looking to achieve a global recycling chain.

“The batteries that arrive from Asia, Europe or the United States to Costa Rica are used here, end their useful life, are recycled, the materials are recovered and sent, for example, to Europe for the production of new batteries in a circular economy logic,” said Kruse.

The post Lithium battery recycling, an endless cycle for waste in Costa Rica appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.

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Cambodia 'Upcycler' Turns Tonnes of Plastic Bottles Into Brooms

By Chantha LachPHNOM PENH (Reuters) - In a small warehouse in Cambodia's capital, a group of workers sit and spin waste plastic bottles into strips...

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - In a small warehouse in Cambodia's capital, a group of workers sit and spin waste plastic bottles into strips, turning them into bristles for brooms, of which they churn out 500 each day.For the past 11 months they have transformed around 40 tonnes of discarded plastic bottles, about 5,000 bottles per day, by "upcycling" them into brooms they say are more robust than regular brushes.Those sell for 10,000 riel ($2.50) and 15,000 riel ($3.75) each.    Plastic strips from the empty bottles are collected into a bundle on a machine, before being softened in hot water and sliced evenly to be sewn with metal wires into the ends of a bamboo stick.Cambodian entrepreneur Has Kea, 41, wants to reduce plastic pollution in his community, in a city that produces up to 38,000 tonnes of all types of waste each day, according to its environmental department.About a fifth of that is single-use plastic that ends up in landfills and waterways."This broom is quite solid, not easy to break," said Suon Kosal, a 26-year-old Buddhist monk whose temple bought 80 of the brooms last month.Kea buys empty plastic bottles from trash collectors and garbage depots. With the seemingly endless supply, he is confident about the longevity of his business. He is also open to competitors stepping in to the market."This also help reduce pollution to the environment and encourages people to collect plastic bottles to sell to us at a higher price, which in turn, could earn them a better living," he said.(Writing by Juarawee Kittisilpa; Editing by Martin Petty and Alison Williams)Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters.

Plastic Planet: The Unseen Invasion of Microplastics in Our Lives

Waste is an inherent outcome of life on Earth and the functioning of human economies. Over time, living systems have adapted to transform waste, with...

New research explores the scaling of waste production in urban systems, finding that solid waste increases linearly with population growth, while wastewater and greenhouse gas emissions scale differently. This highlights the need for improved waste management strategies in growing urban areas and the development of a new science of waste to ensure sustainability and reduce environmental impact.Waste is an inherent outcome of life on Earth and the functioning of human economies. Over time, living systems have adapted to transform waste, with organisms such as dung beetles playing a crucial role in decomposing the feces of other species. However, managing waste continues to be a significant challenge within human societies.As the world population continues to grow and rapidly urbanize — two-thirds of humans will be city dwellers by 2050, according to the United Nations — our waste is driving a mounting worldwide crisis. Microplastics blanket the planet and infiltrate our bodies, wastewater pollutes our waterways, and greenhouse gas emissions are driving global climate change.“We as a society tend to ignore the unpleasant side of our production,” says Mingzhen Lu, an Assistant Professor at New York University and former SFI Omidyar Complexity Fellow. Lu and SFI Professor Chris Kempes are co-corresponding authors on a new paper published in Nature Cities that explores waste production as a function of urban systems.Findings and Implications for Urban Planning“The key question is whether waste is produced more or less efficiently as systems scale up, and how big a recycling burden there is as a consequence,” says Kempes.To address this question, the authors used scaling theory to analyze waste products — municipal solid waste, wastewater, and greenhouse gas emissions — from more than one thousand cities around the world. Scaling theory has been used in biology to describe how organism physiology changes with body mass, and it proved relevant for understanding how waste production scales with the growth of a city.In a new paper, Mingzhen Lu and Chris Kempes explore how three types of waste production — municipal solid waste, wastewater, and greenhouse gas emissions — scale with city size. Credit: Elisa Heinrich Mora“Scaling theory allowed us to extract overarching broad stroke patterns and transcend the individuality of each city,” explains Lu.The resulting patterns show distinct differences in waste production as cities grow. Solid waste scales linearly — because it is tied to individual consumption, it increases at the same rate as population growth. In contrast, wastewater production scales superlinearly while emissions scale sub-linearly. In other words, bigger cities contribute disproportionately more liquid waste than smaller cities, but expel fewer greenhouse gasses. The results suggest an economy of scale for emissions as growth typically brings more efficient energy and transportation infrastructure, but a diseconomy for liquid waste.Cities tend to deviate from the universal scaling law as they grow wealthier. Cities with higher per-capita GDP generate more waste across the board, which underscores the relationship between waste generation and economic growth.Towards a New Science of WasteThe findings emphasize the need for a new science of waste that can help predict the future state of urban ecosystems and inform policies to reduce waste and enhance sustainability.“Fungi figured out how to decompose lignin waste from trees and created sustainable ecosystems that have lasted hundreds of million years,” says Lu. “We take it in and throw it away — we can no longer overlook waste from our societies.”Reference: “Worldwide scaling of waste generation in urban systems” by Mingzhen Lu, Chuanbin Zhou, Chenghao Wang, Robert B. Jackson and Christopher P. Kempes, 17 January 2024, Nature Cities.DOI: 10.1038/s44284-023-00021-5

Future cities to harness power and resources from wastewater

Innovative technologies are transforming wastewater into drinking water, compost, and energy, revolutionizing urban resource management.Matt Simon reports for Wired.In short:Companies like Epic Cleantec are developing systems to recycle gray water for non-potable uses and extract energy from wastewater.Advanced purification techniques are enabling cities like San Diego to convert wastewater into drinking water.Wastewater recycling is becoming essential for urban sustainability, especially in rapidly growing cities facing water stress due to climate change.Key quote:"We’re turning wastewater—which in my opinion, is a term that is in dire need of a rebrand—into clean water, into renewable energy, and into soil."— Aaron Tartakovsky, cofounder and CEO of Epic CleantecWhy this matters:The shift toward recycling wastewater is a crucial step in addressing the increasing water demands of urban populations and the challenges posed by climate change. These innovative solutions not only conserve water but also create new resources, demonstrating a sustainable approach to city planning and environmental management.Read: Expert ecologist William H. Schlesinger on what happens to all the modern, exotic compounds when we flush them into the environment.

Innovative technologies are transforming wastewater into drinking water, compost, and energy, revolutionizing urban resource management.Matt Simon reports for Wired.In short:Companies like Epic Cleantec are developing systems to recycle gray water for non-potable uses and extract energy from wastewater.Advanced purification techniques are enabling cities like San Diego to convert wastewater into drinking water.Wastewater recycling is becoming essential for urban sustainability, especially in rapidly growing cities facing water stress due to climate change.Key quote:"We’re turning wastewater—which in my opinion, is a term that is in dire need of a rebrand—into clean water, into renewable energy, and into soil."— Aaron Tartakovsky, cofounder and CEO of Epic CleantecWhy this matters:The shift toward recycling wastewater is a crucial step in addressing the increasing water demands of urban populations and the challenges posed by climate change. These innovative solutions not only conserve water but also create new resources, demonstrating a sustainable approach to city planning and environmental management.Read: Expert ecologist William H. Schlesinger on what happens to all the modern, exotic compounds when we flush them into the environment.

Revealed: the 1,200 big methane leaks from waste dumps trashing the planet

The huge leaks of the potent greenhouse gas will doom climate targets, experts say, but stemming them would rapidly reduce global heating• ‘It’s impossible to breathe’ – life by Delhi’s towering landfills There have been more than 1,000 huge leaks of the potent greenhouse gas methane from landfill waste dumps since 2019, the Guardian can reveal.Analysis of global satellite data from around the world shows the populous nations of south Asia are a hotspot for these super-emitter events, as well as Argentina and Spain, developed countries where proper waste management should prevent leaks. Continue reading...

There have been more than 1,000 huge leaks of the potent greenhouse gas methane from landfill waste dumps since 2019, the Guardian can reveal.Analysis of global satellite data from around the world shows the populous nations of south Asia are a hotspot for these super-emitter events, as well as Argentina and Spain, developed countries where proper waste management should prevent leaks.Landfills emit methane when organic waste such as food scraps, wood, card, paper and garden waste decompose in the absence of oxygen. Methane, also called natural gas, traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over 20 years, making it a critical target for climate action. Scientists have said emissions from unmanaged landfills could double by 2050 as urban populations grow, blowing the chance of avoiding climate catastrophe.A total of 1,256 methane super-emitter events occurred between January 2019 and June 2023, according to the new data. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh lead the list of nations with the most large leaks, followed by Argentina, Uzbekistan and Spain.Landfill emissions can be reduced by creating less organic waste in the first place, diverting it away from landfill, or at least capturing some of the methane that is being released from the landfills. Action to stem methane leaks slows global heating faster than almost any other measure and is often low-cost, with some measures even paying for themselves when the captured gas is sold as fuel.Methane emissions have accelerated since 2007 and cause a third of the global heating driving the climate crisis today. The acceleration has alarmed scientists, who fear it is the biggest threat to keeping below 1.5C of global heating and could trigger catastrophic climate tipping points. The rapid rise appears to be due to global heating driving more methane production in wetlands – a potential vicious circle that makes cuts of human-caused methane emissions even more urgent.Decomposing waste is responsible for about 20% of human-caused methane emissions. Fossil fuel operations cause 40% of emissions, and the Guardian revealed there were more than 1,000 super-emitter events from oil, gas and coal sites in 2022 alone, many of which could be easily fixed. Cattle and paddy fields cause the other 40% of emissions.Prof Euan Nisbet, a methane expert at Royal Holloway University of London, said: “Big landfills make a great deal of methane but it doesn’t cost much to bulldoze soil over a stinking, burning landfill. It’s not rocket science.”Microbes in the soil convert methane into CO2. “Then it’s lost 97% of its greenhouse impact,” Nisbet said.Carlos Silva Filho, president of the International Solid Waste Association, said the global methane pledge made by 150 countries to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030 could not be achieved without tackling emissions from the waste industry. “Cutting methane is the only solution to meet the global 1.5C temperature target,” he said. “If we really focus on reducing methane emissions from the waste sector, it is a gamechanger.” About 40% of the world’s waste still goes to unmanaged dumps.Antoine Halff, a co-founder of the company Kayrros, which provided the satellite image analysis to the Guardian, said: “Waste is a big source [of methane] and in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh it’s not only a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions but it’s also a lost opportunity to tap a fuel resource that could help meet the country’s energy needs.”The satellite that Kayrros uses orbits the planet 14 times a day and provides global coverage, giving the location of a leak to within about six miles. Higher-resolution satellites that orbit less frequently can pinpoint the waste facilities responsible.Trash mountainsDelhi, the capital of India, has had at least 124 super-emitter events from city landfills since 2020. Dr Richa Singh, of the Centre for Science and Environment in the city, said that while methane leaks from the global oil and gas industry were getting significant attention, the waste sector also required “urgent intervention”.India is extremely exposed to the impacts of the climate crisis, making methane cuts especially important, she said. Furthermore, cleaning up landfills would end the fires and serious air and water pollution they cause.Methane is generated in landfill dumps when waste food and other organic material is decomposed by microbes in an oxygen-depleted environment. Properly managed waste systems either divert organic material from landfills into biodigesters that produce methane fuel, or cover the landfills and capture the gas. Burning converts methane to CO2, a much less powerful greenhouse gas.The worst event in India occurred in April 2022 in Delhi, with methane poured into the atmosphere at a rate of 434 tonnes an hour. That is equivalent to the pollution caused by 68m petrol cars running simultaneously.As well as dirtying the air, Delhi’s stinking “trash mountains”, which are miles wide and 60 metres high, are hellish to live near. Mohammad Rizwan, 36, who owns a shop next to the Ghazipur landfill, the site of India’s biggest methane leak in the last five years, said the nearby residents were the “unluckiest people in Delhi”.“I have watched it grow from a small rubbish heap into that huge mountain over the past 20 years,” he said. “During the summer it catches fire every week because of all the gas and then it becomes even more disgusting here. It’s impossible to breathe and everyone gets sick. It feels so dangerous to live here but I have no choice – this is where my home and livelihood is.”Methane is a trace gas in the atmosphere, about 0.0002% by volume. “But if you go to a typical dump site in India, it can range between 3% and 15%, which is huge,” said Singh. Methane fires ignite regularly, she said, sending air pollution including carcinogens across entire cities.An outburst near Lahore in Pakistan in February leaked at 214 tonnes an hour, equivalent to 34m car exhausts. The assessment of methane leaks in Bangladesh is complicated because illegal tapping of gas pipes is commonplace, causing major leaks in urban areas that can be hard to distinguish from landfill emissions.Symbolic failureIn most developed nations, regulation of landfill sites means super-emitter events are avoided. However, Argentina is an exception, with 100 super-emitter events from waste sites in the capital, Buenos Aires, since 2019. The worst was in August 2020 when 230 tonnes an hour was emitted, equivalent to running 36m cars.One major site, the Norte III landfill, is wedged between working-class neighbourhoods in the north of Buenos Aires. Rubbish trucks crawl over the top of its giant earth-covered mounds and the pungent smell and the toxic dying rivers in the vicinity are symbolic of Argentina’s failure to manage waste sustainably, said Juan Martin Ravetinni, the founder of QueReciclo, a waste management consultancy. “Every day I ask myself how the authorities have allowed this.”Some parts of the sites appear to be well managed, according to Nadia Mazzeo, a waste management specialist at the University of Buenos Aires. “Buenos Aires has the most advanced landfill site in Argentina and one of the best in Latin America”. However, a huge amount of rubbish – about 15,000 tonnes a day – is dumped at the site, and satellite data in a 2022 study suggested the uncovered new waste piles may be the source of the emissions. Norte III could use temporary covers in the open area, said Prof Ilse Aben at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON), who was part of that study.The Norte III site is run by Ceamse, a private company belonging to the government of the province of Buenos Aires. “The fact that the detected emissions come from a small uncovered area is an indication of the effectiveness of the [methane] capture and treatment system on the rest of the module surface,” said a spokesperson for the company. He said an uncovered face in the dump was necessary because 2,000 lorries a day emptied their waste there.Ceamse said in 2021 that new equipment would lead to emissions dropping. But they had not fallen by late 2022, with the company blaming the rising amounts of waste being dumped. SRON data from January shows huge emissions continue in Buenos Aires.The spokesperson said that in early February Ceamse’s president had approved the signing of an agreement with the Global Methane Hub foundation to use satellite images to improve the management of methane.‘Deeply counterintuitive’Super-emitter events were also spotted by the satellites in Madrid, Spain, with 17 leaks since 2021, and four major leaks in the first half of 2023. The largest was 25 tonnes an hour, recorded on 23 January and equivalent to 3.9m running cars.“We don’t associate western European countries with landfills that have uncontrolled methane emissions,” said Halff. “So to me it’s deeply counterintuitive.”The events were detected near landfill sites to the south of the city centre, where biogas extraction plants also operate to capture methane. Satellite data analysis in 2021 and a ground-based survey in 2018 both detected significant methane leaks in the area.Madrid’s city council, which operates the major waste facilities in the area, said other landfills it did not control in the wider Madrid region could be responsible, and that satellite estimates were not as reliable as ground measurements. It said large leaks at the biogas plant would have been detected and that all the plants met all environmental regulations.At the Las Dehesas site, the officials said about 20% of methane was estimated to escape and that this was a normal level for a controlled landfill with biogas extraction. The officials said they were now planning “a real-time monitoring system for the fugitive emissions at the Las Dehesas controlled landfill” and robotic inspections to gather data by the end of 2024.Detecting methane super-emitters with satellites is more difficult in tropical regions as high levels of water vapour and clouds in the atmosphere interfere with the measurements. So super-emitters in central Africa and south-east Asia may not be picked up, although new satellites being deployed will improve detection in these regions. Smaller but longer-lasting leaks from waste sites will also release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere.‘Out of sight’Most rich nations have dealt with major methane leaks from waste dumps, although some concerns remain about biodigesters, which in the UK for example have been found to leak 4% of their gas.The lack of action elsewhere is as much to do with the low profile of the waste sector as to do with cost, said Silva Filho. “Waste is still an overlooked topic and it’s not a priority in many countries, mostly in the global south. It is like a magic service – waste simply disappears from the kerbside, so people don’t care if it is going to a recovery facility or a dump site, just that it’s taken out of their sight.”Nisbet said: “[People] haven’t thought about it, stressed local authorities have got other things on their mind. It’s a governance issue.”Covering landfills with soil is quick and cheap but is only a partial solution to all their pollution problems, said Singh. “Most of the landfills in India and most of the developing economies are not constructed in a scientific manner, with no kind of mechanism to collect landfill gases or the hazardous waste.“We can call them pollution hubs,” she added. “You name any sort of pollution – be it land pollution, surface and groundwater pollution, air pollution – you will find everything there, and that is very, very concerning.”But Singh said action had begun: “By the intervention of the government of India’s Clean India Mission, there has been a drastic change in the way we see waste. We want to make our country free from garbage.”She said the Central Pollution Control Board in India had identified more than 3,000 dumps and about a third of old landfill waste had been treated so far. This involves excavating the dumps, aerating the organic waste to break it down to CO2, using burnable waste as fuel and taking the remaining non-toxic material for aggregate in building.Even if global heating does not always inspire action, cleaning up cities does, said Singh. “The climate impact of methane may be a bit technical for a layman to understand but everybody wants to see their city clean. The garbage mountains have been on the primetime news, and [affected] election results.”The city of Indore, in Madhya Pradesh, has been judged India’s cleanest city and now separates much of its organic waste at source – the crucial step in avoiding new methane-producing landfills. Instead, a new biomethane plant can produce 17 tonnes of methane fuel a day.The city has also remediated 40 hectares (100 acres) of landfill and is replacing most of it with a city forest. “Something that was initially producing methane greenhouse gas is now being converted into a place which can actually sequester CO2,” Singh said.Silva Filho said: “The best option is the one we can afford – and by going step by step with simple solutions, solving the problems at the local level, we can upgrade the system gradually.” As well as India, progress is being made in countries such as Colombia, Chile and Malaysia, he said. “But population growth will be registered mostly in the global south, where we lack waste infrastructure, so we will have a big problem if we continue with current practices.”Nisbet said cutting methane was a very good climate investment. “If you’ve got $1m to spend on climate change, [cutting] methane should be high on your priority list, because you get much more impact for your dollar.”Additional reporting by Luke Taylor in Buenos Aires and Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi

California Bill Would Ban All Plastic Shopping Bags at Grocery Stores

California would ban all plastic shopping bags in 2026 under a new bill in the state Legislature

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California would ban all plastic shopping bags in 2026 under a new bill announced Thursday in the state Legislature.California already bans thin plastic shopping bags at grocery stores and other shops, but shoppers at checkout can purchase bags made with a thicker plastic that purportedly makes them reusable and recyclable.Democratic state Sen. Catherine Blakespear said people are not reusing or recycling those bags. She points to a state study that found the amount of plastic shopping bags trashed per person grew from 8 pounds per year in 2004 to 11 pounds per year in 2021.“It shows that the plastic bag ban that we passed in this state in 2014 did not reduce the overall use of plastic. It actually resulted in a substantial increase in plastic,” Blakespear, a Democrat from Encinitas, said Thursday. “We are literally choking our planet with plastic waste.”Twelve states, including California, already have some type of statewide plastic bag ban in place, according to the environmental advocacy group Environment America Research & Policy Center. Hundreds of cities across 28 states also have their own plastic bag bans in place.While California's bag ban would apply statewide, it would only end up impacting about half the state's population, according to Mark Murray, lead advocate for the environmental advocacy group Californians Against Waste. That's because most of the state's major cities already ban these types of thicker plastic bags. But a state law passed in 2014 and approved by voters in a 2016 referendum bans cities from passing new laws restricting plastic bag use.If the Legislature passes this bill, it would be up to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to decide whether to sign it into law. As San Francisco's mayor in 2007, Newsom signed the nation's first plastic bag ban.Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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