Environmental

Introduction:

  • Becoming very important as a result of major manufacturing industries and mass consumerism:
    • Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of ever greater amounts of goods and services.
  • It is important to sustain the world’s natural resources.

Sustainable Technology:

  • Includes:
    • Recovery of materials.
    • Recycling of materials:
      • Most materials are recyclable.
      • This saves energy and helps to reduce pollution.
      • It also reduces resource consumption:
        • Thus we need to extract and process fewer resources.
      • But:
        • It is difficult to recover sufficient materials to enable large-scale recycling.
          • Large supermarkets often provide recycling points for things like:
            • Glass.
            • Paper.
            • Metal cans.
            • Textiles.
            • Etc.
    • Using recycled materials.
      • Recycled materials must be made into products that consumers want:
        • If there is no commercial return, private firms would not help.
  • Sustainability:
    • This is the capacity to endure:
      • Used in this context it means to use resources at a rate that can be endured by the planet upon which we live:
        • This means that we will never run out of materials.
    • Very important in designing.
  • Products with longer lifespans reduce the need to buy new products which in turn reduces energy and material consumption:
    • For instance upgrading a computer instead of buying a new one.

Pollution:

  • All products need energy to produce:
    • This energy is mostly from fossil fuel-powered generators:
      • These release harmful gases.
        • Thus increasing concerns regarding global warming and acid rain.
  • Petrol used in the vehicles that transport products and in domestic cars and public transport:
    • This releases harmful gases especially gases containing lead.
      • However, growth of public awareness and concern with regards to atmospheric lead pollution has led to the increased use of lead-free petrol and catalytic converters as well as the government increasing road taxes for high-powered cars.

Landfill:

  • Most of our household waste ends up at a landfill site where it is buried:
    • This stuff takes decades to decompose.
    • Also requires strict control measures by waste management companies:
      • All in order to reduce pollution such as:
        • Smell.
        • Run-off pollutants that can go into local water supplies.
        • Visual pollution from large scale tipping of waste.
  • Biodegradable plastics such as Biopol:
    • Made from fermentation of food waste.
    • Decompose more rapidly when buried on landfill sites.

Plastics:

  • Polythene sheets can be formed in tubes using extrusion machines:
    • This blows hot air into a tube of plastic which melts it, shapes it and dries it before it is folded and rolled.
    • Polythene can be recycled for use in the building industry.
  • Plastics are made from crude oil and are often found as litter on streets:
    • Thus they have a poor environmental image.
      • But in particular PVC because it is part chlorine:
        • PVC stands for Polyvinylchloride.
        • Thus when burnt it could produce hydrogen chloride and dioxins:
          • Thus it is difficult to incinerate in incinerators.
        • Many European countries do not allow the use of PVC in shrink-wrap sleeves used in packaging:
          • They use PET instead (seen as less damaging).
  • But PVC is better?
    • Takes less energy to make than other plastics:
      • Because more than half of its composition is chlorine.
    • Chlorine comes from salt which is plentiful.
    • The dioxins and hydrogen chloride released when incinerated can be removed successfully by scrubbers:
      • The hydrogen chloride can then be used to make hydrochloric acid which can then be sold.

Conservation of Resources:

  • It is important to minimise the amount of resources used to make products when designing said products:
    • This:
      • Conserves resources.
      • Reduces energy and pollution involved in manufacture.
      • Reduces waste materials for disposal.
      • Etc.
  • How:
    • Reduce the amount of materials used in packaging:
      • Biscuits and chocolates often have multiple layers of packaging that are just thrown away.
      • Done by:
        • Reducing the number of layers.
        • Reducing the thickness of each layer.
          • Aluminium drinks cans are 0.1mm thick (as thick as good quality paper).
    • Refill schemes (reuse):
      • Shampoo, conditioner, fabric conditioner, etc. are usually bought in plastic bottles:
        • Supermarkets often sell ‘soft pack’ refill packages that are made from laminate plastic.
      • This type of scheme depends heavily on consumer participation:
        • Thus it must be financially rewarding for them.
    • Recycling:
      • Paper and board can be easily recycled:
        • Even though wood is a renewable resource there is no reason to be wasteful:
          • Trees can be replanted.
        • Thus the paper making industry is upping production of recycled paper and board.
        • Most recycled paper fibres are used in stuff like:
          • Corrugated board.
          • Newsprint.
          • Toilet tissue.
          • Etc.
          • There are many new products becoming available:
            • Writing paper.
            • Fast-food packaging.
            • Bags.
            • Etc.
        • People believe that paper bags are better for the environment than plastic bags but:
          • Paper bags use up more energy during production.
          • Paper bags produce more pollution during production.
          • Plastic bags are more likely to be reused.
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