Finding eco intelligence
IN THE MUCH HEATED NATIONAL DISCOURSE on the waste to energy plant a very interesting concept of zero waste has been put to Barbados by Professor Paul Connett.
As I listened to this concept being explained it had significant synergies to the 100 per cent renewable energy concept. The most significant is the need to bring an end to business as usual. A need for us to be much more aware of our environment and how every decision we make has an impact.
It makes a very important link to the production and use of energy and ultimately shows that a world that is ecologically friendly and sustainable has to combine the two concepts. It will necessitate a paradigm shift in our social and cultural behaviour. We need to develop environmental/economical intelligence, or as I call it eco intelligence.
The basic principle of zero waste is to reduce, recycle, reuse and redesign. It challenges the thinking that once it is not in our house or in our yard it is not our problem anymore. To just throw everything in a garbage bag and put it outside to be collected is not the end of our waste problem.
Most of us believe that similarly when we switch on the television for background noise and turn on the fans in the bedroom and go in another room it is not our problem. However, when the utility company burns oil to produce that energy the cost is passed to us and when we see new taxes like the municipal solid waste tax, it’s for the waste that we throw out, and then we become complacent and don’t even acknowledge the more serious impact it causes.
The world’s environment and natural resources are suffering from that mentality and our children will pay the ultimate price, so we can no longer live this way. We need to change the way we see these things as a matter of urgency.
Let’s focus on the synergies of zero waste and 100 per cent renewable rnergy. Reduce and reuse waste and efficiency and conservation of energy based on the same fundamental principles.
The concept is simple; if we produce less waste from only using and buying what we need, if we use less energy by only turning on appliances/devices that we are using, if we reuse items instead of throwing them out and if we choose to do many of our daily task using natural resources (drying clothes on the line instead of a dryer), we can reduce using resources that are limited. These things are simple but very effective, with a significant impact on our environment and economy.
Recycling companies have provided employment while reducing the amount of items taken to the landfill from taking recyclable items from your waste.
As an example, by recycling plastic bottles it eliminates using energy to burn (or gasify) them, it eliminates the energy used to produce new plastic from raw material instead of the recycled material and it reduces the impact on the environment from either burning it or just leaving it in a landfill.
The recycling industry in South Carolina had created 37 440 jobs by 2005 with $6.5 billion in economic impact. This contributed $69 million in state tax revenue and is estimated to grow by 12 per cent in the next five years.
Have you considered how recyclable materials provide valuable resources for your community’s manufacturers and yield significant economic benefits to your country?
Then, when we look at electricity, if we are able to reduce our national consumption by 25 per cent through behavioural modification that would translate to approximately $99.38 million less spent in fossil fuels, also approximately $156.13 million saved by the consumers (based on the 2013 Barbados Light & Power annual report).
It also means that as we transition to renewable energy a business or home or the utility company would invest in a system 25 per cent smaller, which is further savings to be realised through efficiency.
When we consider the alternate to these simple principles it could mean the taxpayers investing $700 million in a waste to energy plant that could potentially put gasified heavy metals like mercury in the environment and produce electricity for $0.75 – 0.85/kilowatt hour.
It really seems crazy that we are not at least considering trying investing some time and effort in changing our wasteful habits that could transform Barbados environment and economy.
So what I am asking all Barbadians is to seriously think about what you would prefer for this beautiful country we call home; try developing eco intelligence or continue destroying the environment and the economy.
Jerry Franklin is managing director of EnSmart Inc. Franklin is an engineer, energy auditor, equipment tester and energy solutions provider.