Green Dealer Support


Solar Energy – The Tipping Point
August 31, 2013, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , ,

header-logo2No longer a mere suggestion of what might be, renewable energy is hitting a tipping point, with far-reaching implications. For the first time, understanding the scale and patterns of renewable energy development has become essential to any full analysis of trends that will shape the global energy economy and the health of the planet.

Buoyed by hundreds of new government energy policies, accelerating private investment, and myriad technology advances over the past five years, renewable energy is breaking into the mainstream of energy markets. Over the past two years, the United States and Europe have both added more power capacity from renewables than from coal, gas, and nuclear combined, according to the report. Worldwide, renewables accounted for one-third of the new generating capacity added.

Renewable energy, including hydropower, now provides 18 percent of total net electricity generation worldwide. Meanwhile, biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are making inroads in the transportation fuels market and are now equal to about 5 percent of world gasoline production. And in China, more than 150 million people heat at least some of their water using solar hot water systems.

The economic weight of the renewable energy sector is now large enough to attract many of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, from GE and Siemens to unlikely players such as Samsung and Google. Renewable energy investment of $150 billion worldwide in 2009 was the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of annual investment in the upstream oil and gas industry, which topped $380 billion.

Changes in government policy are responsible for most of these advances. In 2009 alone, 10 national and state governments enacted policies giving renewable power generation access to the grid at prices set by policymakers, bringing the number of governments with such policies to 70. Altogether, the number of countries with policies to encourage renewable energy has increased from 55 in 2005 to 100 in 2010.

One of the forces motivating new renewable energy policies is the desire to create new industries and jobs. Employment in the renewables sector now numbers in the hundreds of thousands in several countries. In Germany, which has led renewable energy development for more than a decade, more than 300,000 people were employed in renewables industries in 2009. This figure almost equals the number of jobs in the country’s largest manufacturing sector: automobiles.

The changing geography of renewable energy is another indicator that we are entering a new era, with the growing geographic diversity boosting confidence that renewables are no longer vulnerable to political shifts in just a few countries. It is also clear that leadership is shifting decisively from Europe to Asia, with China, India, and South Korea among the countries that have stepped up their commitments to renewable energy.

This transition reflects a growing recognition within Asia itself that these oil-short countries have much to gain from the development of renewable energy in economic, environmental, and security terms. For the world as a whole, this is a momentous development, since Asian nations now lead the growth in carbon emissions. Given East Asia’s dominance of low-cost global manufacturing, the region’s commitment to renewable energy will almost certainly drive down the price of many renewable energy devices in the coming years.

Renewable energy is also beginning to make a dent in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In Germany, renewables displaced 109 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2009 – equivalent to 12 percent of the country’s total – helping to reduce domestic emissions 29 percent from the 1990 level.

At a time when the world’s energy headlines are dominated by an oil-stained Gulf of Mexico and failure of the U.S. Senate to act on climate change, renewable energy is a rare good news story. The momentum that renewables have gained in a relatively short time indicates that with modest policy changes, a very different energy system could begin to emerge over the next decade.

The problem with alternative energy has been simple; it hasn’t been profitable. But alternative energy especially wind and solar has become cheaper to produce and is looking increasingly attractive as oil prices rise.

Thanks in part to falling prices in solar panel production, solar power, for example in California, has fallen from 25-30 cents a kilowatt hour to about 10 cents. The reduced cost are led by the significantly less expensive cost of the panels them selves. What has not kept up as well is the cost of installation which includes all the other hardware as well as the labor.

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Plastic Waste
February 28, 2013, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

header-logo2

As a country we are generating a lot of plastic that is either disposed of in landfills or recycled. Some recent statistics (2010) indicate that about 12 percent  of landfill space is used by some form of plastic. That number is growing very fast. Fifty years ago it was only 1 percent.

plastic Waste

Here how plastics are made:

Plastics fall into two basic categories; thermosets and thermoplastic.

Thermosets sets when heated and is used for durable items such as construction and automobile parts.

Thermoplastic softens when exposed to heat. It is used for products such as milk jugs, floor covering and carpet fibers.

Here are some interesting plastic waste statistics (2010):

  • Over 30 million tons of plastic were generated representing over 12 percent of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
  • Only 8 percent of the total plastic generated was recovered for recycling
  • About 7 million tons of plastic are non durable goods which includes plates and cups
  • About  11 million tons of plastic was durable which includes plastic in appliances, etc.

Plastic pollution is a problem because plastic takes so long to decompose. A website maintained by the Mid Michigan Waste Authority provides numerous links that explore all aspects of plastic pollution. Here is an excerpt from their website:

Quick Facts about Plastic Pollution

  • A plastic milk jug takes 1 million years to decompose.
  • A plastic cup can take 50 – 80 years to decompose.
  • Recycled plastic can be used to make things like trash cans, park benches, playground equipment, decks, and kayaks.
  • Special fleece-like fabrics used in clothes and blankets can be made out of recycled plastic bottles.
  • Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year.
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
  • A United States law, implementing an international agreement called MARPOL Annex V, became effective on December 31, 1988. It prohibits the disposal of plastics into the marine environment and requires ports to provide reception facilities for ship-generated plastic waste.
  • Today, Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year but recycle only 1 or 2 % of it.
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic is dumped in the world’s oceans every year.
  • The worldwide fishing industry dumps an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines, and buoys.
  • About 1,200 plastic soft drink and salad dressing containers could carpet the average living room.
  • It takes 1,050 HDPE (#2) milk jugs to make a six-foot plastic lumber park bench.
  • Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
  • Nearly every piece of plastic EVER made still exists today.

You can go to their website for further plastic pollution information and action that you can take. Click here to go to their website:

Most plastics have a resin identification code as you would typically see on the bottom of plastic container. The resin number is usually inside a triangle which is frequently confused for the recycling symbol. It does not mean that the item can be collected for recycling. Here is a chart of the codes and what they mean:

Resin Identification Code

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Type of Resin Content

PET

HDPE

Vinyl

LDPE

PP

PS

OTHER

  • PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
  • HDPE – High-density Polyethylene
  • LDPE – Low-density Polyethylene
  • PP – Polypropylene
  • PS – Polystyrene
  • Other – Mixed Plastics

resin-identification-symbols2120px-Recycling_symbol_svgNote the difference in these two recycle related logos. It is often confused that the resin identification guarantees that a plastic item is recycable but that is the farthest thing from the truth. The number is for sorting purposes.

There are about 2,000 companies in the US that handle or process post-consumer plastic. Recycling occurs either curbside or at drop-off points. Often this is included in full stream recycling and is mixed with other recyclable material such as paper. The recyclable material goes through a number of sorting and cleaning processes until it is finally ready for processing which includes grinding it into small flakes. After further processing it is formed into pellets and shipped to product manufacturing plants where they begin the cycle again as new plastic products.

Source reduction is about reducing the amount of waste that is generated. Here plastic plays an important role as plastic is generally more lightweight than its alternatives such as glass, paper, or metal. These lighter weight materials require less fuel to transport and result in less material in the waste stream.

Green Dealer Support works with dealers to identify items that are being added to the waste stream and may eventually end up in landfills.



Business E-waste
December 28, 2012, 10:34 am
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)It is estimated that 80% of e-waste in the United States ends up in landfills. Globally 40 million tons of e-waste are sent to landfills, dumps or are incinerated. There are over 600 million obsolete computers in the United States.  Recycling e-waste can also turn into some real savings. Here are a couple of examples:

Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.

For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

e-waste

About 10% of used computers are disposed of properly. Many are sent to local recyclers who ship them overseas countries where few safety regulations are followed in disposing of the material. The processes used in these countries results in workers, communities, wildlife, water and crops being exposed to hazardous materials the e-waste contains. For example an older computer may contain as much as four pounds of lead.

Proper e-waste procedures begin with the purchasing of electronics that have “green” traits. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool that includes an electronic registry of “green” electronics. Click Here for the link to EPEAT. 

For dealerships e-waste comes in many forms:

  • Computers
  • Phones
  • Printers
  • Fax Machines
  • Networking Equipment
  • Monitors
  • DVD Players
  • PDA’s
  • VCR’s
  • Televisions
  • Etc.

When these items are no longer useful for your operation the two options are Reuse and Recycle.

Many devices are being replaced so that you have the latest features that you need or require but may still have some useful life, value and importantly are not yet ready to be thrown away. Some schools and other public organizations may be interested in a contribution. Further some groups are interested in the used products to salvage for parts prior to recycling the remainder.

For those situations where a resource for recycling or reusing is unknown here are a few links you can use:

Many states have laws that relate to e-waste recycling. Click Here for the National Electronics Recycling infrastructure Clearinghouse (NERIC) to find all the latest information on e-waste handling in your area.

If you are replacing electronic items that have data stored be sure to remove all this information before recycling or donating the item.

Green Dealer Support has experience working with car dealers who want to be responsible environmental partners. E-waste is one of the many areas that dealers will want to address as part of their eco-friendly activities.




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