Despite economic struggles, retailers predict millions of digital TV sales this winter. These predictions have nothing to do with well-trained salespeople or pushy marketing ploys. Instead, analog TV sets without converters will become obsolete next February, when the official switch to digital television takes place.
Nudged into buying a new TV, some consumers might quickly trash their old set. But considering the energy and materials put into each TV set, that’s not the best idea. At a landfill, the metallic insides of your television — mercury, lead, cadmium — could leak out and contaminate the air and water. Since most parts are easily recyclable now, there’s no need to wait for landfill mining robots to save the day in the far future. Consider researching recycling initiatives available today. Read more
Mineral-hungry bacteria can turn their favorite treats into valuable metals, leached from low-grade ores.
These bacteria, using minerals as their main energy source, “squeeze out” metal ores and concentrates while metabolizing mineral snacks. Known as bioleaching, this process has already made waves in the metals industry; in fact, 20 percent of mined copper comes from the process. Facing high demands from the electronics industry, the copper industry expects to see even more bioleaching business. “The method is emerging as an increasingly important way to extract valuable minerals when conventional methods such as smelting can’t do the job cheaply enough,” National Geographic says.
Your digital camera survived the past six years, but now you’ve replaced it with a new, sleek model. You might consider sending the outdated version to the dump, but some companies offer a better solution. That digital camera “is also an important resource,” explains an Akita poster in Japan, placed near a collection box for outdated electronics. “Don’t throw it away! Please cooperate and recycle.”
The same suggestions apply for cell phones, iPods, walkmen, and other gadgets. Rare and precious metals, such as gold, silver, platinum and iridium, help create those gadgets and all their snazzy features. High-tech industries rely on these precious metals, and Japan, a high-tech wonderland, holds several companies that support and manage recycling initiatives known as “urban mining.” Akita, for example, collects electronics at Japanese supermarkets, using boxes and posters that spout research and advice. Read more
Robots like the fictional WALL-E could someday uncover lost treasure.
True or false: U.S. landfills could provide enough steel to equal four full years of American steel production. The surprising answer? True. Already consuming approximately 100 million metric tons of scrap steel each year, the U.S. steel industry recognizes that landfill mining is estimated to uncover more than 400 million metric tons of steel. Further, some experts estimate that there’s more aluminum in landfills than the concentrations in iron ore, and trashed computers could provide more gold, copper and mercury. Landfills, it seems, are evolving into gold mines.
Once a vacant building in Detroit, the Tiger Stadium met its match with an eager demolition crew. The ballpark’s bittersweet end didn’t last long, however, as the Tiger Stadium came back to life through cars, roads and even kitchen sinks.
Tiger Stadium was last packed with fans in 1999. Since then, the team moved to Comerica Park, and the building stood as a barren reminder of the past. Few noticed the empty stadium, but recycling companies took interest in the potential urban mine.” Farrow Group Inc. and MCM Management Corp. chose to dissemble the stadium and sell its metal scrap, but not just as a favor to the city. Although base metals and the steel markets have recently plunged, scrap prices were booming earlier this year. Therefore, those bleachers contained cash. Read more
Thousands of American smelters and metals mines plan to reduce emissions throughout the next year, and a new law from the EPA makes this possible. The amount of accepted lead pollution was reduced 90 percent earlier this week. In the first update to the standard since 1978, the EPA’s new lead standard, 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter, is a tenfold cut from the current standard.
To meet this shrinking standard, it’s expected that the EPA will embark on heavier monitoring, ensuring that companies stick to the rules. This new plan, according to CNN, “would require the 16,000 remaining sources of lead, including smelters, metal mines, and waste incinerators, to reduce their emissions,” adding that EPA will “designate areas of the country that fail to meet the new standard, requiring state and local governments to find ways to reduce lead emissions.”
The WorldChanging team posted a retrospective piece earlier this week that focused on sustainability in the metals industry. Some of their statistics were startling. While it’s not surprising to read that 18 percent of CO2 emissions come from industrial activity, who knew that 56 percent of that pollution stems from metal production? Yikes!
Have you ever found yourself standing in the supermarket totally perplexed at trying to make a choice between the tuna — in a can or in a pouche? No? Nor me. Truthfully, I grab the nearest pack and scoot but may be we should take a moment to think about it. It’s not just what tastes best ” the product inside is more often than not the same. As responsible metals guys, we should pause to ask which can be recycled the most efficiently? Scrap recycling in the USA is one of this country’s (many) great success stories. Nearly every steel product made in the US has a portion of recycled steel and until recently steel and aluminum recycling rates were among the highest in the world (in the last ten years Asian and European countries have taken the lead, but largely as a result of government coercion of the population). The increasingly popular pouches have the advantage of being lighter and taking up less space. According to the Kapak Corporation of Minneapolis one truckload of its pouches has the same holding capacity as 25 truckloads of cans, and uses 75% less energy than cans to manufacture. No prizes for working out why pouches have become so popular then as gas and energy costs have risen. The problem is current designs of pouches can’t be recycled like cans. Because of the multi-material construction, nearly 100% of them are destined for the landfill site. Surprisingly there is little information available on independant studies into the life cycle costs of pouches vs cans. In addition, a major shift from cans to pouches would boost aluminum consumption but at the expense of steel.
So it isn’t such a flippant point after all, we could be seeing a very significant shift in the packaging industry happening in front of our eyes as producers make decisions based on not just marketing but power costs, raw material costs, landfill rates and the influence of legislators. Think about that next time you are making that tuna choice.
Yesterday, we covered a silly story on Sarah Palin’s titanium glasses. And yes, we received numerous links and pingbacks for that post which is sort of interesting because the subject matter is well, not really that interesting. Of course neither is Britney Spear’s dress she wore at the VMA Awards last night but alas, that story ranked 6 on CNN today.
We’ll leave the “Who is Sarah Palin” articles for the professionals and stick with stories relating to our mission here at MetalMiner, providing global sourcing and trading intelligence for global metals markets. So where does Gov Palin stand on metals issues? We’ll let you decide but there are two stories that we will weigh in on. The first relates to a ballot initiative called Measure 4. “Measure 4 would ban large metal mines from discharging harmful amounts of toxic chemicals into salmon streams or drinking water supplies,” according to this recent Anchorage Daily News article. Had it passed, it may have shut down the entire mining project. According to what I have read, there is a law prohibiting governors from taking sides on any ballot initiative. And Palin not only stood against the ban (not a particularly pro-environmental move to say the least) but she declared so publicly invoking some make-believe “personal privilege”. Don’t get me started on personal privilege. Let’s just hope she didn’t take any “privilege” lessons from the governor of my home state…
The second story relates to a letter sent by the The United Steelworkers (USW) Women of Steel to Senator John McCain regarding his pick of Sarah Palin as his VP. The letter stated, “Unfortunately, you chose the wrong woman for the wrong job. Governor Palin is a working mother whose achievements should be respected – but due respect for a budding political career doesn’t mean she is ready to be vice president – a heart beat away from the presidency. Nor does it change the fact that she’s not the best candidate to improve the lives of women and working families in this country.”
I’d like to just comment on this “working family, working women” stuff. Why is it that only blue collar workers can be called “working Americans?” Is there some Wikipedia definition of work that I am unaware of in which only a blue collar worker is in fact a worker and everybody else must be a trust fund baby? Good thing my nerves are made of steel. Pun intended.
Since “going green” has recently been touted as a way to save money and not just the environment (although saving the environment is a definite plus!), several readers have asked us to cover more eco-friendly topics on lean, green sourcing strategies and innovations in the metals industry. Today, we’ve decided to pull some of our most interesting content that relates to the green side of the metals market.