|GRN Recycle Talk FAQ
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 12:02:20 -0500 (EST) From: FRIEDMAN.FRED@EPAMAIL.EPA.GOV (Fred Friedman) Subject: Re: Fractions of materials recycled (Simon Jones)
March 11, 1999
Dear Dr. Jones,
Intriguing questions those. You say that you have 250 materials for which you need responses to your 5 (really 8) questions each? That means that you'll be answering about 2,000 questions. A rather ambitious undertaking. Some materials will obviously have stronger literatures and more centralised literatures than will others. There are some materials recycling handbooks, but they will principally delve into the most standard recyclables, not those principally of interest in engineering.
Some generic sources which you will require:
Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States, (most recent edition, which is currently the 1997 update) pub by US EPA OSWER, EPA 530-R-98-007, 5/98 is currently observable at www.epa.gov/osw.
Website of the Clean Washington Center, Seattle, will give you recyclability and market studies for many substances. www.cwc.org.
National Assn. of Home Builders operate a research bureau for materials used in construction. Peter Yost, their director is extremely knowledgeable about this fraction. www.nahbrc.org/seminars/green.htm
The Rocky Mountain Institute has the energy aspect of much recycled materials http://www.rmi.org/gds/index.htm.
Various US (and doubtless, UK) Universities with specialized institutes on specialized substances will be good, but decentralised sources, such as the University of Massachusetts, Lowell for plastics, or State University of NY at Stony Brook for fly ash.
However, when I think of answers to your questions, tied to specific substances, seeking a central information source, I frequently come up only with this one, the Research Library for RCRA, whose direct I am.
For example, take the case of tire rubber:
Is the material recyclable? Yes. How would you find this out? Research Library for RCRA, or Scrap Tire Management Council, or any number of other sources.
What proportion of material used each year is from recycled materials? Approximately 19%. Again, you could find this out from the Characterization. . cited above, or from the Research Library for RCRA which would caution that that figure probably does not include tires-to-energy nor export for recycling, and may or may not include retreading (although I suspect that it does include retreading).
Is the material 100% recyclable? No. There will be waste products from reprocessing and remanufacturing which may or may not be recyclable including carbon black and casings. The tire rubber and wire is 100% recyclable. The sources for this information could be the literature of tire recycling and in no central place, the Scrap Tire Management Council or the Research Library for RCRA
What proportion is 100% recyclable? Tire rubber from trucks is 100% recyclable, and from passenger cars is as well, and from jet planes may or may not be. Is that what you had in mind? Decentralised articles in the literature from mostly nonscholarly sources would be the resources for this info.
Can the material be safely incinerated? Well, the answer to that is where? In an advanced industrial, environmentally regulated country, yes, is the answer. In a developing country incinerator provided with few emision controls, the answer is no. Where might you find this out? Research Library again, or, if everyone knew to make such distinctions, commom sensically.
How much tire rubber is incinerated per year? In 1996, about 152 million scrap tires were incinerated in the US (out of an estimated 253 million generated) and this market is expected to grow with US EPA MACT standards on tire derived fuel not eliminating it as a fuel source. Where could you learn this. I don't know. The Research Library for RCRA, or in this case, Biocycle Magazine's 10/97 and 2/97 issues.
Can the material be safely put into landfills? No, not as such. Whole tires are breeding grounds for vermin and have an aerodynamic tendency to rise to the surface of a landfill when buried. Where could you learn this? Much of the literature about waste tires contains this information up to 1992. It is also centralised at the Research Library for RCRA, and perhaps other places as well. In England, for example, The WARMER Bulletin's publishers are well aware of these facts.
Total production of the material per year? Most commercial almanacs, manufacturing statistical bulletins of government and trade associations, and the Characterization study above bear this information.
Unfortunately, the Research Library cannot answer the 2,000 questions, nor even 10% of them, given that our time is limited and that we have a principle population (New England states and US EPA Region 1) to serve.
- Research Library for RCRA