Just when you thought you’d seen it all… now they’ve
stolen our name and put it on a big black box! The scary part is that I’ve
always admired the German engineering savvy… but I guess it just goes to
prove the old Eric Hoffer quote “Beware the cold heart of the
intellectual.” (I refer to “heart” here because of my
belief that the market forces and technology alone will never get to the roots
of why we have a wasting society.) But we do need to take note of how this
writer framed the opening… especially the statement that “…recycling
initiatives still tackle only a minor proportion of global waste.” I
like the use of the word “still”… keeps the door open for a
serious Zero Waste Path.
The world wants an “easy” solution … so we
need to keep an eye on this kind of nonsense.
This from Forbes.com today…
Lionel Laurent, 06.18.08, 6:00 PM ET
piles of rotting garbage in the streets of Naples, Italy, to the landfills
blotting the landscape of Dubai, the problem of how to deal with waste remains
visibly unsolved. Incinerators don't solve the problem of potentially toxic
ashes, landfills have limited growing space, and recycling initiatives still
tackle only a minor proportion of global waste.
But now a
new German technology known as "ecocycle" hopes to put a stop to all
that, by offering to turn tons of household waste, toxic waste and industrial
waste into clean and reusable materials. The distributors of the technology
claim that the end product can be turned into bricks, cement, agricultural
fertilizer or even chipboard.
technology is a huge machine. You can throw in whatever you like--a brick or
half a bicycle," says Michael Engelhardt, who owns the distribution rights
to the technology in the Middle East and Asia. He says the ecocycle process
grinds trash down into tiny particles, mixes it with hazardous waste, locks it
all together with an additive and pumps it out as very fine pellets of
non-waste material with the purposefully bland name of "CM500."
CM500, according to European Union law, is no longer waste because it has no
more waste properties," adds Engelhardt. He claims CM500 can be tailored
to a variety of needs. Countries like Saudi Arabia could add it to desert soil
as a sort of fertilizer. Singapore could use it as a sand substitute. Thailand
could use it as a form of water-resistant chipboard.
the idea first sprang from the mind of scientist Franz Philip some 27 years
ago, only now has the technology been perfected. A test plant with a daily
capacity of 80 tons is finally up and running in Würzburg, Germany, after two
years of tweaking. This summer, interested parties will finally be able to see
whether ecocycle really does work.
process certainly sounds appealing--if it works. But what's the catch?
According to Arnold Black, of Britain's government-funded Resource Efficiency
Knowledge Transfer Network, there could be some resistance from consumers if
they realize that construction materials were partly made from recycled
is a fairly high public relations mountain to climb," says Black, who
works closely with the British government and the environmental sector on areas
such as waste management. He warns that the climb could be made harder without
extensive testing to satisfy strict government standards--and to bolster the
claim that CM500 can be legally described as a "non-waste" material.
Engelhardt insists that the ecocycle team has performed tests that prove the
product's safety. He says the product has been successfully "aged"
chemically by 50 years in tests, to determine whether there could be any
leaking of waste over a long period of time.
of an ecocycle plant, Engelhardt claims, is up to 90% cheaper than an
incinerator. This is not entirely surprising, given that it requires around
one-tenth the temperature of incineration, or a mere 120 degrees Celsius.
That's an energy savings plus, as long as the facility can handle comparable
volumes of waste as incinerators.
says that the technology has already been sold to a handful of private
waste-handling companies in Germany and that he's had nibbles from interested
parties, including Asian and Middle Eastern governments and mining company BHP