Archive | Waste

Research shows real-time data of consumption impact

When we think about global warming many of us immediately think about cars and industry ruining the planet, but does this tell the whole story?

Figures highlighted by Farm Machinery Locator show that there are nearly 8.3 million cows in the UK alone; cattle which provide us with hundreds of thousands of litres of milk and thousands of pounds worth of beef every day. We often assume that agriculture is natural and therefore can’t be damaging to the environment, but that assessment is wrong.

This real-time data visualisation takes farming and consumption data and displays it in such a way that allows us to appreciate the true impact of our consumption. We can see the numbers rising rapidly before our very eyes, representing the staggering rate at which we are consuming meat and dairy.

The visualisation aims to raise awareness of the level at which we are currently consuming farmed meats, as it is widely regarded to be one of the driving forces behind increasing levels of carbon dioxide and deforestation.

LIVESTOCK’S CONTRIBUTION TO GLOBAL WARMING

In fact, if we look at figures published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, agriculture contributes 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide, a much higher figure than that for transportation. Emissions from cattle are particularly damaging because it is not CO2 that cows are releasing but methane. Every single cow releases between 70 and 120kg of methane per year and while this is a greenhouse gas like CO2, its detrimental impact on the planet is 23 times higher than the negative impact of CO2. In addition, livestock cause over two-thirds of the world’s ammonia emissions, and this greatly contributes to acid rain. When you consider there are over 1.5 billion cattle worldwide the damage quickly adds up.

Livestock figures are rising because of the general increase in our level of prosperity, which brings with it a higher demand for beef and milk. It’s not only emissions from cattle however that are causing problems to the planet, intensive farming also leads to a whole range of other environmental issues.

LAND CLEARANCE AND DEFORESTATION

Livestock now use over 30% of the world’s available land. Much of this is used for grazing although there is also a substantial portion which is utilised to grow feed. A need for all this space has been a major contributor to deforestation and with deforestation a further release of CO2 into the atmosphere occurs. This comes about due to two main reasons. First, as the trees are cut down, the carbon dioxide they store is released. Second, fewer trees leads to lower levels of photosynthesis going forward, a process which would normally help to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In addition, once land has been cleared if it is then overgrazed it runs the risk of turning to desert. This has already happened on 20% of pastureland.

DROUGHT

Cows also use a substantial amount of water. It requires 990 litres of water to produce just one litre of milk and as global warming continues an upward trend our water becomes ever more precious. Furthermore many of the antibiotics and hormones used to treat cattle can end up in drinking water and lead to risks to human health.

POLLUTION

There will always be a level of pollution produced by livestock and ultimately this will wash down to sea level. Nutrient run off causes an overgrowth of algae which consumes oxygen in the sea, oxygen which marine life needs to survive. This can kill coral reefs and lead to so called ‘dead zones’. One in the Gulf of Mexico is around 6,500 square miles in area and has predominantly been caused by US beef production waste which is then carried down to the coast by the Mississippi.

We all need to lower our carbon footprint and when we realise how much of an impact agriculture has on the environment we should consider reducing the amount of meat and milk we consume. The planet’s population is growing substantially every year and a western diet which is meat and dairy heavy, is widening its appeal even in countries where fruits and vegetables used to be the mainstay of meals. If we want to become greener in all areas of our lives we should all be a little more aware of the detrimental impact our own consumption of meat and milk is having and take steps to reduce it.

In August 2013, Focus Business Media launched Farm Machinery Locator – a classified only magazine published fortnightly and sold at newsagents across the UK.

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Green light for Northern Ireland’s largest energy-from-waste facility

A £107 million energy plant at Belfast’s harbour estate could bring around 250 jobs to the construction sector.

What will be the north’s largest energy-from-waste facility, providing 14.85 megawatts of energy from household waste, will also provide work for an additional 20 employees once it is up and running.

The financial case for the long-awaited Full Circle ‘Generation Energy from Waste’ facility, located adjacent to Bombardier’s wing facility, has just been completed, paving the way for work proper now to begin on site.

Design and preliminary site activities having already begun and developers are confident the facility, which will have the capacity to process up to 180,000 tonnes of feedstock derived from household waste, will be fully operational by late 2017.

The scheme will incorporate the use of gasification technology – a process that converts any material containing carbon into synthesis gas (syngas) which can then be burned to produce electricity or further processed to manufacture chemicals or fertilisers.

Gasification has been reliably used on a commercial scale worldwide for more than 60 years in the refining, fertilizer, and chemical industries – and for more than 35 years in the electric power industry – but is now being used to convert municipal and hazardous waste into valuable products.

Full Circle Generation Ltd is made up of a consortium of equity investors including RiverRidge Energy Limited, UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB), Equitix and P3P Partners.

KPMG Corporate Finance Belfast were instrumental in structuring the all-equity deal finance arrangement with the ‘design, build and operate’ contract awarded to French construction group Bouygues Energies and Services.

Managing director of RiverRidge Energy and RiverRidge Recycling Ltd, Brett Ross, described the announcement as “a significant day” for the Northern Irish waste management sector.

“It is also a significant day for the Northern Irish economy as a whole,” Mr Ross said.

“The delivery of this critical piece of infrastructure provides a number of stakeholders with a world class facility capable of recovering energy from waste in an environmentally sensitive and acceptable manner, as well as the provision of a meaningful base load of renewable energy for Bombardier.”

The construction of the plant will allow for an annual generation capacity of 61GWh, enough renewable energy to power 14,500 homes.
Jonathan Bell, minister of enterprise, trade and investment at the Northern Ireland Assembly, said: “This multi-million pound project is hugely significant, not just for Belfast, but for the Northern Ireland economy as a whole as it will create hundreds of jobs and protect many more.

It will be fueled by feedstock derived of commercial and household waste, with a long-term feedstock contact in place with Pioneer Fuels to provide a continuous source of waste products.

Earlier this year, Northern Ireland’s renewable energy industry received a boost in the form of a fully-funded solar solution which could save businesses up to £320m. Kingspan ESB – a joint venture between building technology firm Kingspan and Ireland’s largest energy company ESB – made photovoltaic (PV) energy available to businesses without the investment normally required in the capital outlay, installation or maintenance of a PV system.

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