My New Year resolutions to help cut pollution
Many readers are making New Year’s resolutions this week so environment expert Ron Fox gives his green suggestions to help the UK reduce our carbon footprint.
Start a new cycle: All washing machines should come with a ten-year warranty.
“In the last 15 years the average washing machine is thrown away after 6.3 years compared to ten years in 2005,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park. “Most machines come with just a two-year warranty and some only one.”
The Green Alliance think tank report, he points out, says the optimal life of a machine is 17 years because that is how long it takes for advances in energy efficiency of new products to outweigh the environmental benefits of continuing to use the old machines.
“If the Government enforced longer warranties it would surely lead to improved products and a better environment,” he said.
Issue product passports to cut waste
All electronic devices including phones, TVs and laptops, should come with a product passport giving owners details about how long the item will last, how easy they are to repair and to recycle, plus the critical raw materials they contain.
“I was shocked to read a UN report that Britain generated more electronic waste per person than any other country except Norway,” said Ron. “On average we each discard 24.9kg of electronic goods annually compared to the European Union average of 17.7kg and a global average of 7.3kg.
“Even worse, according to Veolia, one of the largest waste companies, more than a million electrical items are being put in black bags and sent to be incinerated or taken to landfill sites every week.
“It is so frustrating to hear that only a third of small electrical items are collected for recycling. Many think it is too difficult or can’t be bothered to ensure items such as circuit boards, laptops, kettles, toaster and toys that are broken or not wanted any longer can be re-used.
“Yet items, such as circuit boards, contain tiny amounts of gold, silver, and palladium as well as copper steel, aluminium and plastic which can be recovered and turned into new products.”
Ron added: “There is a double environmental benefit as recycling saves on the energy and land needed to mine new material, but also reduces the risk of toxic chemicals leaking into the environment.
“The Government needs to do two things. Firstly, they should launch a campaign to encourage people to recycle their e-waste as a matter of urgency and secondly ensure manufacturers issue product passports to help educate consumers.”
To show how serious the problem is the UK missed its target under the latest EU waste electrical equipment directive of collecting 45 per cent of e-waste in 2018. A total of 493,000 tonnes was collected, 44,000 tonnes short of the target.
“For advice about green energy contact me on 0845 474 6641 – but in the meantime have a happy and peaceful New Year.”
More of Ron’s resolutions next week.