Posts Tagged ‘Recycling’

Spanien: Frauen-Power für Peru

Donnerstag, Juli 14th, 2011

“Spanish NGO Recycles Used Oil into Solidarity with Peru

By Inés Benítez*

Turning old cooking oil into soap in Spain not only helps protect the environment, but also contributes to financing education and training for Peruvian children and teens without families.

MÁLAGA, Spain (Tierramérica).- Tons of artisanal soaps made from recycled olive oil are regularly shipped from Spain to Peru, where their sale and use helps finance local development and education for children in poor communities.

When poured down the drain, a liter of used cooking oil pollutes 1,000 liters of water and causes serious harm to the environment, according to the Spanish non-governmental organization (NGO) behind the initiative, Madre Coraje (Mother Courage). The group collects the oil and uses it to make soap at its workshop in the southwestern Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera.

Since 1992, some 770 tons of the soap have been sent to Peru. It comes in rectangular bars that resemble a piece of cheese, and according to Alid Ala, 15, it “helps heal wounds and also cures fungal infections.” Alid is originally from the southern Peruvian region of Cusco, but is now one of 800 children and teens living at the Comunidad de Niños Sagrada Familia (Holy Family Community of Children), an orphanage in the marginalized district of Ventanilla on the outskirts of Lima.

Half of the assistance received by the orphanage comes from Madre Coraje, which also sends donations of clothing, non-perishable food, medicine, wheelchairs, sewing machines and other goods along with the soap, explained the founder of Sagrada Familia, Miguel Rodríguez, 52.

As well as food, shelter and schooling, the youngsters are also provided with training in trades like baking, sewing, carpentry and soldering, Rodríguez told Tierramérica.

“We can’t live asking for charity. We have to transform what is given to us into something productive,” he stressed. For more than two decades, Rodríguez has devoted himself to providing a home for children who have been orphaned or abandoned by their parents or have been forced to leave home and live on the streets because of abuse or extreme poverty.

Every year, in addition to producing and shipping off an average of 80,000 kilos of soap, Madre Coraje sells around 500,000 liters of used cooking oil to Spanish companies that use it to produce biofuel. The profits they earn make it possible to send more humanitarian aid and finance development projects in Peru.

The oil is collected from 300 containers scattered across six provinces of Spain, where people are asked to take their used cooking oil instead of dumping it down the drain or in the trash. Madre Coraje also promotes the reuse and recycling of textiles, batteries, mobile phones, sewing machines, X-ray machines and computer equipment.

According to the Spanish Association of Renewable Energy Producers, 196,000 tons of biofuel were industrially produced from used cooking oil in 2010, which represents almost 20 percent of all the biofuel produced in Spain.

“Respect for the environment is an integral part all of the activities, initiatives and projects we undertake,” Antonio Gómez, the president of Madre Coraje, told Tierramérica.

In Spain there are now numerous development organizations that carry out cooperation initiatives with an environmental focus.

In 2008, Spanish non-governmental development organizations (NGDOs) executed 6,233 cooperation projects in 127 countries, primarily in South America and sub-Saharan Africa, in sectors such as education, health, gender, water and sanitation, and nutrition. The total investment in these projects was more than 792 million dollars, according to a 2009 report on the NGDO sector.

The soaps made by Madre Coraje can be used both for washing clothes and as bath soap, and they are distributed “throughout the length and breadth of Peru,” to shelters for at-risk children, old age homes, and organizations of people with disabilities and women seeking to improve their living conditions, said Manuel Conde, a Peruvian who coordinates the organization’s humanitarian aid work in Lima.

Soap is almost a luxury item in poor communities, and “a bar of soap like the ones sent by Madre Coraje can cost up to half a dollar,” he told Tierramérica.

Conde emphasized the soap’s medicinal qualities – it helps prevent skin diseases, for example – and explained that it is used as part of an educational strategy to teach beneficiaries, mainly children, about the importance of good personal hygiene.

In the courtyard of the Sagrada Familia orphanage, Tierramérica talked with a group of teenagers who were using the recycled soap to wash the clothes of “the littlest members of the community,” according to Claudia Consamollo, 16, who is originally from Cusco.

The soap is made from oil, water and sodium hydroxide (also known as lye or caustic soda), which are mixed together in what were once bread kneading machines, explained Madre Coraje president Gómez.

The same ships that transport the soap to Peru also bring food, school supplies, new clothing, medicine and various types of equipment and parts, he said, adding that each container carries 20 tons of materials valued at between 130,000 and 218,000 dollars.

“The recycled soap accounts for a quarter of a container with 20 tons of donations,” estimated Sagrada Familia founder Rodríguez. The humanitarian aid provided by Madre Coraje directly reaches 11 of Peru’s 24 departments.

Several years ago, it was suggested that Peruvian institutions could produce their own soap, but the proposal was not feasible, said Conde, because olive oil is not as heavily consumed in Peru as it is in Spain, and it is this particular type of cooking oil that makes the soap “special”.

Like the NGO sector, the Spanish government has also begun to focus on the environment in its official development assistance.

The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation Development (AECID) “has integrated respect for environmental sustainability as a cross-cutting priority in all of its policies,” said the agency’s communications director, Virginia Castrejana.

According to the most recent figures from the AECID on official development assistance, Spain provided 126 million dollars in aid to Peru in 2010.

* * Additional reporting by Milagros Salazar (Lima). “


(Quelle: Tierramérica.)

Global: Metall-Recycling, nein danke?!

Donnerstag, Mai 26th, 2011

“World metal recycling ‘discouragingly low,’ says new UN report

Despite the obvious benefits to the environment, industry and consumers themselves, metal recycling rates worldwide are discouragingly low, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The “Recycling Rates of Metals: A Status Report” says that fewer than one third of some 60 metals studied have a recycling rate above 50 per cent and 34 elements are below 1 per cent, yet many of them are crucial to clean technologies such as batteries for hybrid cars and the magnets in wind turbines.

“In spite of significant efforts in a number of countries and regions, many metal recycling rates are discouragingly low, and a ‘recycling society’ appears no more than a distant hope,” it says.

The weak performance is especially frustrating because, unlike some other resources, metals are “inherently recyclable,” the report adds.

Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director, said during the report’s launch in Brussels that “in theory, metals can be used over and over again, minimizing the need to mine and process virgin materials and thus saving substantial amounts of energy and water while minimizing environmental degradation.

“Raising levels of recycling worldwide can therefore contribute to a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy while assisting to generate ‘green jobs’,” he stated.

The report cites evidence that the era of cheap and easily accessible ores is running out. For example, about three times more material needs to be moved for the same ore extraction than a century ago, with corresponding increases in land disruption, water impacts and energy use.

Among the report’s recommendations is the better design of metal-using products to make disassembly and recycling easier and improved waste management in developing countries. It also encourages people in richer countries to stop squirreling away old phones and chargers that will probably never be used and wind up in a dustbin never to be recycled.

“I am as guilty as anyone here,” says Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the Nairobi-based UNEP. “Like a squirrel or a magpie, my home and office drawers and cupboards are packed with old mobile phone chargers, USB cables, defunct laptops and the like.

“I somehow imagine that they might come in useful one day – but of course they never do as they have been superseded by the latest model.”’


(Quelle: UN News Centre.)

Mexiko: Pepsi, Nestle und der Boom der Plastik-Wasserflaschen

Freitag, Mai 28th, 2010

“In Mexico, fear of tap water fuels bottled-water boom

By Tim Johnson | McClatchy Newspapers

MEXICO CITY — It’s a simple warning — don’t drink the tap water — and Mexicans take it to heart as much as any foreign tourist does.

Mexicans drink more bottled water than the citizens of any other country do, an average of 61.8 gallons per person each year, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp., a consultancy. That’s far higher than Italy, and more than twice as much as in the United States.

A rising mistrust of tap water is behind the thirst for bottled water. Other factors are also at play, however, including clever advertising campaigns by multinational corporations and the failure of the Mexican government to provide timely data on water safety.

The boom in bottled water has an underside, too. Empty plastic water bottles litter landfills and roadsides at a rate that alarms consumer and environmental groups. Recycling experts say that only about one-eighth of the 21.3 million plastic water and soft drink bottles that are emptied each day in Mexico get recycled.

Mexicans weren’t always as distrustful of tap water as they are these days.

‘Twenty years ago, there were drinking fountains in all the public schools and in most parks,’ said Claudia Campero, a Mexico representative of Food & Water Watch, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group. Now, such fountains are rare.

Some municipal water systems in Mexico have fallen into disrepair, including in the capital, where a 1985 earthquake that killed more than 10,000 people broke numerous water mains. The city siphons water from the underlying aquifer faster than rainfall can replenish it, causing the city, much of which is built on an ancient lakebed, to sink, which puts additional stress on leaky water mains. Some 30 percent of the city’s water is lost to leakage.

‘The infrastructure is very old and obsolete. Even though there has been investment, it isn’t enough. Runoff is seeping into the water system,’ said Octavio Rosas Landa, an economist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

For years, many residents grew accustomed to boiling tap water to ensure its safety, but natural gas prices have risen, making boiling expensive.

Not all the water is bad. Some provincial cities have improved their water systems, and Environment Ministry officials say that 85 percent of the water coursing through municipal systems is potable. Consumers, however, don’t know when they might sip the other 15 percent. Many Mexicans simply don’t trust the government to deliver clean, pure water.

That’s where multinational companies with bottled water divisions — such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, France’s Groupe Danone and the Swiss giant Nestle — have found an opening.

‘These companies tell people to have confidence in them rather than in the government,’ Campero said.

One can hardly turn on the television without seeing an ad of a lithe young woman in a sweatsuit sipping from a bottle of premium water or a woman in a bikini whose svelte physique seems due to the bottle of water in her hand.

‘Drink 2 liters of water a day,’ the ads from Bonafont, a leading brand from Danone, say in block letters at the bottom of the screen. Another ad says: ‘Eliminate what your body doesn’t need.’

‘The competition is very intense,’ said beverage analyst Ana Paula Pedroni of the IXE brokerage. ‘The trend is for more marketing.’

On street corners, vendors hawk liter bottles of water. Restaurants don’t offer tap water, insisting that diners buy bottled water. Primary school students must take money to buy bottled water from kiosks. One brand uses characters from Looney Toons to appeal to the student market.

‘Most of my students carry bottles of water, and they drink a lot with this heat,’ said Rosas Landa, the university economist and water expert.

For big companies, the boom in bottled water consumption in developing countries such as Mexico, India, China and Indonesia has been a godsend, since consumers in Europe, a stronghold of bottled water, have rebelled against throwaway plastic bottles as harmful to the environment.

Not so in Mexico. Former President Vicente Fox, a longtime Coca-Cola executive, looked positively on rising soft drink and bottled water sales, seeing them as a driver of economic growth. Mexicans drink an average of 42.3 gallons of soft drinks per capita annually, surpassed only by U.S. consumers.

The growth of soft drink consumption is slowing in comparison with water, however.

‘The sale of water has risen on the order of 8 percent, while soft drinks rose 2 percent,’ Pepsi Mexico President Juan Gallardo Thurlow announced in early April.

The Beverage Marketing Corp. in New York City says Mexico’s bottled water market composes 13 percent of the world’s total, and has grown at 8 percent for each of the past five years.

Consumer advocates say Mexicans’ thirst could be quenched more easily and inexpensively if municipalities provided reliable drinking water.

‘The state has contributed to these companies taking over the market and converting drinking water into a saleable product,’ said Alejandro Calvillo, the head of Power to the Consumer, a nonprofit Mexican advocacy group.

Calvillo’s group estimates that the average Mexican family spends $140 a year on bottled water, much of it in 5-gallon plastic jugs that are commonly delivered to homes. The expense puts a heavy burden on low-income families, he added.

In impoverished neighborhoods in outlying Mexico City, scores of private water companies have popped up, offering large jugs of water for 10 pesos, or about 77 U.S. cents, a third of the price of water from the multinational companies. Such concerns face few inspections, giving consumers water of indeterminate quality.

Further, most Mexican consumers refuse to separate plastic products for recycling, and those who seek to recycle can struggle to find places that’ll accept post-consumer plastic.

‘The corporations make the consumers responsible for recycling,’ Rosas Landa said. ‘They produce the containers, but don’t take responsibility for recycling the bottles.’

A Houston-based recycling services company, Avangard Innovative Ltd., joined with a Mexican environmental services company last year to open a $35 million recycling plant in Toluca to handle PET, polyethylene terephthalate, the strong, light plastic that’s resistant to heat and impermeable to carbonation, making it perfect for beverages.

Still, Calvillo said: ‘A large part of the PET bottles that are collected are sent to China for recycling.’ The Chinese plants grind PET bottles into fibers for use in carpeting and other consumer products to sell to countries such as Mexico.”

(Quelle: McClatchy.)