Increased Climate Protection in Biological Waste Recycling

    
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PUTZBRUNN, Germany, Sept. 25 /CNW/ - The disposal of biological waste from human settlements places a considerable burden on the climate right across the globe. This is why the issue has been included in the international Kyoto Protocol. A new technology developed in Germany, which has been successfully tried and tested in 20 countries, provides the opportunity to drastically reduce emissions arising from the recycling of such waste. The ecological progress to be achieved through such means has now been confirmed in the first worldwide study on emissions from biological waste, which the German Environmental Agency, Umweltbundesamt, (http://www.umweltbundesamt.de), has finalized recently.

According to the study, every year in Germany alone, 8.6 million tons of organic waste are collected from human settlements and processed in over 1000 waste treatment plants. During this process, it is methane gas in particular that enters the atmosphere - contributing to the greenhouse effect at a rate 25 times higher per ton than carbon dioxide. Nitrogen and foul/smelling ammoniac are also released. Up till now, the only method of controlling these emissions was to contain them in expensive hall-like factories, in which the waste was treated in sealed systems as a way of holding back the majority of the emissions.

However, there are now many locations in Europe, for example Great Britain and Spain, as well as in the USA, Canada and New Zealand, where astonishingly simple, sealed waste systems prevent harmful climate gases arising in the first place and operate without the need for hall-like factories. The systems have been developed at the German plant of W. L. Gore & Associates in Putzbrunn near Munich. Gore's engineers there were able to build on the company's decades of experience in applying functional textiles with watertight, breathable membranes made of ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluorethylene).

The distinctive technical feature of this waste recycling system is the rain- and windproof, chemically resistant cover that allows vapour to escape, no matter what the weather. GORE(TM) Cover System is the trade name of this new technology - one that makes it possible for the first time to simply pile up the shredded bio-waste without the need for building a major construction and to effectively contain it in such a way that bacteria can convert the natural material into valuable compost under ideal conditions.

The UBA study shows that the emissions from the system are approximately 3.5 to 10 times less than traditional open plants. It releases 1.5 to 3 times less climate gases than present sealed buildings. "As well as the ecological advantages, there are also economic benefits", says Ulf Harig, Head of the business section GORE(TM) Cover in Putzbrunn. "Compared to the sealed treatment of waste in enclosed buildings, our system requires significantly lower investment and operating costs." This is what has persuaded the city of Los Angeles to set up the largest waste treatment plant so far to apply this technology. Under the particularly strict laws governing the environment in California, it will process a million tons of sewage and green waste annually when the plant is finished.

Essentially, only vapour and carbon dioxide escape into the atmosphere through the thin, triple-layered cover, whose pores are 300 times smaller than the diameter of a hair. Up to 96% of unpleasant smells and harmful gases are held back. The internal biological process, which is controlled by sensors and PC, produces a temperature of over 65degreesC. This kills off any germs and ensures that the required level of hygiene is reached. In only eight weeks, the bacteria produce under a regulated supply of air valuable compost that can subsequently be traded.

Compost is an important natural product. It ensures that fertile humus is sustained, it improves the hydrologic balance, supports the life of important micro-organisms, inhibits parasites and plant diseases - and much more, too. Ultimately, agricultural compost helps to save both energy and resources. This is why the European Commission is promoting as part of its soil protection strategy the increased use of high-value compost.

In the setting up of new treatment plants Gore is cooperating from its German base with partners in the individual countries. With the help of these companies, the plants are being planned in accordance with the different national rules and regulations that apply in those countries. Gore's partners receive a licence to distribute and plan GORE(TM) Cover Systems, which consist of GORE(TM) Cover laminate covering, further components such as ventilation elements, process control and a comprehensive support and service package. So far, some 150 plants worldwide have been developed according to customer specifications and installed at low cost to process very different kinds of waste.

SOURCE W. L. GORE & ASSOCIATES

For further information: For further information: W. L. Gore & Associates GmbH, D-85636 Putzbrunn, Michael Haag, Public Relations, Tel. +49-89-4612-2773, Fax -42773; Mobil. +49(0)172-8151483, E-Mail mhaag@wlgore.com

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