Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Oh dear

What a shame. This chap didn't do very well in the election. Now he should have time to find a new use for every damn one of those DVDs.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Keeping tags on rubbish

Thousands of pieces of household rubbish are to be tracked using sophisticated mobile tags (BBC News and MIT press release)

Three thousand smart tags are going to be attached to things being thrown away. OK, so the researchers say that the resource use and manufacturing of the tags is justified by the information that will be gathered, but how does adding a tag this size (we're not taking a James Bond micro-gadget here) not contaminate the recycling stream of whatever it's attached to? One of the items mentioned is garden waste - I don't think they will compost, somehow. And the tag is made of electronic components, which are hard enough to reprocess thanks to all the toxic metals and so on.
"We hope that Trash Track will also point the way to a possible urban future: that of a system where, thanks to the pervasive usage of smart tags, 100 percent recycling could become a reality," says research assistant, Musstanser Tinauli.
Hang on - I can accept that for one research project it could be a good idea to track a load of rubbish. Pervasive (i.e. much wider) use of smart tags does not, to me, seem to be the way to go. Tags tell you where your stuff has been (if you care) when it is/after it has been there. What needs to happen is that the information from the research project needs to be used to identify where the biggest improvements to recycling flows can be made, so that consumers who do throw things away don't have to worry about it - as long as they put them in the appropriate bin, they are dealt with properly. There's no need to tag everything!

(Of course this research should also just be a part of the bigger picture, where efforts are also put into reduction and re-use so that there is less to recycle anyway, rather than reinforcing the idea of "I recycled it, so that's OK" regardless of whether or not the item was actually necessary in the first place, or still had useful life left in it.)

Concerns aside, I'll be interested to see where the tags end up, at what point they get removed (will they be crushed and melted down if attached to a glass bottle? Will they get recycled themselves if they are on other electronic equipment? What happens when an item is split up, e.g. mobile phone into plastic casing, screen and circuitry?), and whether the information gathered matches up with what we think we know from the conventional records of where particular waste streams go. It could shed some light on the old "recycling collected by X council actually goes to landfill" stories we see in the media from time to time. But as ever, the important thing is then what's actually DONE with the information...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A long-lost meme

I don't seem to get notifed when I have a comment, so this meme tag from (*cough*) some time ago got lost! Sorry :(

1.What are your current obsessions?
Raising money to keep three Norfolk wherries going. Browsing charity shop bookshelves, and planning travels!

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often?
My "infinityMPG" t-shirt from Threadless.

3. What’s for dinner?
We're clearing out the freezer for a de-frost, so it's pork mince with rice, veggies (onions, broccoli, peas) and miscellaneous spices, followed by vanilla ice cream.

4. Last thing you bought?
Six books and a lovely skirt from the Cancer Research shop.

5. What are you listening to?
In The Music, from the Trash Can Sinatras.

6. Do you have a pet and if not, why not?
No. I'm just not a pet person.

7. Favourite holiday spots?
North Norfolk coast, and Canada. I love love love Byford's in Holt. But really I love getting away anywhere in the countryside.

8. Reading right now?
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies. See #4 :) Only just started it but it seems very interesting so far. Also just finished Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, from the same batch, which was one of the best books I have read in a long time. Great story, nothing too clever but brilliantly written. And it was 75p!

9. 4 words to describe yourself.
Independent, loyal, untidy, procrastinator

10. Guilty pleasure?
Anything from Hotel Chocolat...

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak?
Bill Bailey. We bought the CD of his Tinselworm show when we saw him in Nottingham a couple of years back and it stayed in the car for months - we never got bored, and it's still funny. "The home base of Al-Quaeda? That's how we'll get them - find out where they're buying their patio furniture." Part Troll is even better. And this is the pinnacle.

12. First spring thing?
Oh dear, I think this shows how long I left it - I will change it to summer and say local strawberries, the best smell around!

13. Planning to travel to next?
Canada - Vancouver, across the Rockies to Calgary, and home.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Home-brewed beer from someone in my German class - wunderbar!

15. When did you last get tipsy?
In Bristol, visiting friends after completing a huge triathlon.

16. Favourite ever film?
It's a cliche, but the Shawshank Redemption is top stuff.

17. Care to share some wisdom?
Gut instinct is right more often than you might think.

18. Favourite song?
I go through phases of putting things on repeat. The last thing like that was Emmy The Great. My pre-race psych-up song is Don't Stop Me Now by Queen, and comedy wise Rob Brydon on ISIHAC is classic (see my other blog)

19. What's your favourite meal you make without sticking to a recipe?
I make many things without a recipe! Probably sausage casserole (proper local bangers only).

20. What was the last thing that made you say "that's so STUPID!"?
That, in my job, if you get promoted you have to do the same work but in less time, because you get paid the same amount overall but at a faster rate.

21. Facebook or Twitter? Other or Neither?
Facebook. A bit. Mainly for Wordscraper (like Scrabble).

22. Name one thing you do now that you would never have imagined 10 years ago.
More or less any form of exercise but especally triathlon!

I still don't have many blog friends but I will tag Alex and Just Gai, in the hope it might wake them up and bring them back out to play.

Rules: Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Then tag people.

What a waste

There is a by-election coming up in Norwich following the de-selection of Ian Gibson. I am not in that constituency, so have been spared the doorstepping and reams of leaflets that are no doubt clogging the recycling bins of Norwich North as I type, but I still see things in the local media.

Like this:
With piles of election leaflets landing on the doormats of families in Norwich North, one candidate has hit on a way to stand out from the rest - he has posted a DVD of his election address to just under 80,000 voters.

(Update: I had a link to the Evening News story, but it's now gone.)

Good grief. How many of those will even get watched? Even if they do I doubt they will be kept as a cherished souvenir. But can they be easily recycled? No. So all eighty thousand of them will end up in landfill. Wonderful.

Are you ready, fact fans?

A stack of 25 DVDs on my desk is 12cm in diameter and 4cm high, so has a volume of about 450 cm3. 80,000 will have a volume of 1,440,000 cm3 or 144 m3. That's just under an quarter of the volume of the shallow pool at the Sportspark (1.2m x 25m x 8 2.5m lanes). Or, since a quick Google (I have no scales!) informs me that 50 DVDs weigh about 900g, that means 80,000 of them have a total weight of 1440kg, i.e. 1.4 tonnes.

What a colossal waste of resources. Grr.

*Yaaaawn* .... *stretch*

Coming out of sleep mode to comment on a few things :)