Concept: Waste management
Sanitary behaviour is an important, but seldom studied, aspect of social living. Social insects have developed several strategies for dealing with waste and faecal matter, including dumping waste outside the nest and forming specialised waste-storage chambers. In some cases waste material and faeces are put to use, either as a construction material or as a long-lasting signal, suggesting that faeces and waste may not always be dangerous. Here we examine a previously undescribed behaviour in ants - the formation of well-defined faecal patches. Lasius niger ants were housed in plaster nests and provided with coloured sucrose solution. After two months, 1-4 well defined dark patches, the colour of the sucrose solution, formed within each of the plaster nests. These patches never contained other waste material such as uneaten food items, or nestmate corpses. Such waste was collected in waste piles outside the nest. The coloured patches were thus distinct from previously described ‘kitchen middens’ in ants, and are best described as ‘toilets’. Why faeces is not removed with other waste materials is unclear. The presence of the toilets inside the nest suggests that they may not be an important source of pathogens, and may have a beneficial role.
Plastic waste can promote microbial colonization by pathogens implicated in outbreaks of disease in the ocean. We assessed the influence of plastic waste on disease risk in 124,000 reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. The likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic. Structurally complex corals are eight times more likely to be affected by plastic, suggesting that microhabitats for reef-associated organisms and valuable fisheries will be disproportionately affected. Plastic levels on coral reefs correspond to estimates of terrestrial mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean. We estimate that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40% by 2025. Plastic waste management is critical for reducing diseases that threaten ecosystem health and human livelihoods.
Every year many tons of waste glass end up in landfills without proper recycling, which aggravates the burden of waste disposal in landfill. The conversion from un-recycled glass to favorable materials is of great significance for sustainable strategies. Recently, silicon has been an exceptional anode material towards large-scale energy storage applications, due to its extraordinary lithiation capacity of 3579 mAh g(-1) at ambient temperature. Compared with other quartz sources obtained from pre-leaching processes which apply toxic acids and high energy-consuming annealing, an interconnected silicon network is directly derived from glass bottles via magnesiothermic reduction. Carbon-coated glass derived-silicon (gSi@C) electrodes demonstrate excellent electrochemical performance with a capacity of ~1420 mAh g(-1) at C/2 after 400 cycles. Full cells consisting of gSi@C anodes and LiCoO2 cathodes are assembled and achieve good initial cycling stability with high energy density.
Urban waste impacts human and environmental health, and waste management has become one of the major challenges of humanity. Concurrently with new directives due to manage this human by-product, illegal dumping has become one of the most lucrative activities of organized crime. Beyond economic fraud, illegal waste disposal strongly enhances uncontrolled dissemination of human pathogens, pollutants and invasive species. Here, we demonstrate the potential of novel real-time GPS tracking of scavenging species to detect environmental crime. Specifically, we were able to detect illegal activities at an officially closed dump, which was visited recurrently by 5 of 19 GPS-tracked yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis). In comparison with conventional land-based surveys, GPS tracking allows a much wider and cost-efficient spatiotemporal coverage, even of the most hazardous sites, while GPS data accessibility through the internet enables rapid intervention. Our results suggest that multi-species guilds of feathered detectives equipped with GPS and cameras could help fight illegal dumping at continental scales. We encourage further experimental studies, to infer waste detection thresholds in gulls and other scavenging species exploiting human waste dumps.
Twenty-five comparative cycle assessments (LCAs) addressing food waste treatment were reviewed, including the treatment alternatives landfill, thermal treatment, compost (small and large scale) and anaerobic digestion. The global warming potential related to these treatment alternatives varies largely amongst the studies. Large differences in relation to setting of system boundaries, methodological choices and variations in used input data were seen between the studies. Also, a number of internal contradictions were identified, many times resulting in biased comparisons between alternatives. Thus, noticed differences in global warming potential are not found to be a result of actual differences in the environmental impacts from studied systems, but rather to differences in the performance of the study. A number of key issues with high impact on the overall global warming potential from different treatment alternatives for food waste were identified through the use of one-way sensitivity analyses in relation to a previously performed LCA of food waste management. Assumptions related to characteristics in treated waste, losses and emissions of carbon, nutrients and other compounds during the collection, storage and pretreatment, potential energy recovery through combustion, emissions from composting, emissions from storage and land use of bio-fertilizers and chemical fertilizers and eco-profiles of substituted goods were all identified as highly relevant for the outcomes of this type of comparisons. As the use of LCA in this area is likely to increase in coming years, it is highly relevant to establish more detailed guidelines within this field in order to increase both the general quality in assessments as well as the potentials for cross-study comparisons.
A landfill reclamation project was considered to recover landfill airspace and soil, reduce future groundwater impacts by removing the waste buried in the unlined area, and optimize airspace use at the site. A phased approach was utilized to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of the reclamation project; based on the results of these evaluations, approximately 6.8ha of the unlined cells were reclaimed. Approximately 371,000 in-place cubic meters of waste was mined from 6.8ha in this project. Approximately 230,600 cubic meters of net airspace was recovered due to beneficial use of the recovered final cover soil and reclaimed soil as intermediate and daily cover soil, respectively, for the current landfill operations. This paper presents the researchers' landfill reclamation project experience, including a summary of activities pertaining to reclamation operations, an estimation of reclamation rates achieved during the project, project costs and benefits, and estimated composition of the reclaimed materials.
This work presents the enforcement performance of recent Haulien County, Taiwan municipal solid waste (MSW) recycling management programs. These programs include: Mandatory Refuse Sorting and Recycling, Diverse Bulk Waste Reuse, Pay-as-you-Discharge, Total Food Waste Recycling, Restricted Use on Plastic Shopping Bags & Plastic Tableware, Recycling Fund Management, and Ash Reuse. These programs provide incentives to reduce the MSW quantity growth rate. It was found that the recycled material fraction of MSW generated in 2001 was from 6.8%, but was 32.4% in 2010 and will increase stably by 2-5% yearly in the near future. Survey data for the last few years show that only 2.68% (based on total MSW generated) of food waste was collected in 2001. However, food waste was up to 9.7 % in 2010 after the Total Food Waste Recycling program was implemented. The reutilization rate of bottom ash was 20% in 2005 and up to 65% in 2010 owing to Ash Reuse Program enforcement. A quantified index, the Total Recycle Index, was proposed to evaluate MSW management program performance. The demonstrated county will move toward a zero waste society in 2015 if the Total Recycle Index approaches 1.00. Exact management with available programs can lead to slow-growing waste volume and recovery of all MSW.
Food and yard wastes are available year round at low cost and have the potential to complement each other for SS-AD. The goal of this study was to determine optimal feedstock/effluent (F/E) and food waste/yard waste mixing ratios for optimal biogas production. Co-digestion of yard and food waste was carried out at F/E ratios of 1, 2, and 3. For each F/E ratio, food waste percentages of 0%, 10%, and 20%, based on dry volatile solids, were evaluated. Results showed increased methane yields and volumetric productivities as the percentage of food waste was increased to 10% and 20% of the substrate at F/E ratios of 2 and 1, respectively. This study showed that co-digestion of food waste with yard waste at specific ratios can improve digester operating characteristics and end performance metrics over SS-AD of yard waste alone.
Anaerobic digestibility of the waste activated sludge (WAS) discharged from large-scale membrane bioreactors (MBRs) and conventional activated sludge processes (CASs) were compared using batch trials. Four wastewater treatment plants were sampled. Results showed that the sludge from MBRs had poor anaerobic digestibility as it had lower volatile solid (VS) reduction rate and lower maximum biogas production rate. The partial sludge stabilization during the long sludge retention time (SRT) typically applied in MBRs was the possible reason. On the other hand, the difference in wastewater composition had a great impact on the properties of activated sludge and the downstream sludge digestion. Inorganic matter accumulation in the WAS may hinder the access of microorganisms to substrate. The humic-like substances accumulating in the activated sludge was expected to contribute to the worse digestibility and these substances were observed to be released during anaerobic digestion through three-dimensional excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectra.
This study sought to evaluate the efficacy of aerobic and anaerobic composting of inoculated banana peels, and assess the agronomic value of banana peel-based compost. Changes in the chemical composition under aerobic and anaerobic conditions were examined for four formulations of banana peel-based wastes over a period of 12weeks. The formulations i.e. plain banana peel (B), and a mixture with either cow dung (BC), poultry litter (BP) or earthworm (BE) were separately composted under aerobic and anaerobic conditions under laboratory conditions. Inoculation with either cow dung or poultry litter significantly facilitated mineralization in the order: BP>BC>B. The rate of decomposition was significantly faster under aerobic than in anaerobic composting conditions. The final composts contained high K (>100gkg(-1)) and TN (>2%), indicating high potential as a source of K and N fertilizer.