In part 2 of ‘Slumming it’ Kevin again focused on the community benefits of living in smaller, walking distance societies. He seemed full of wonder at their relationships and spontaneous meeting places and shared spaces. He marvelled at their community.
However, he was rightly shocked at children walking barefoot through squelching piles of unspeakable filth. What an inhumane way to live! The daytime existence of these children means fumbling through piles of stinking garbage just to sort bits of plastic from rotting food waste. And this was meant to be a model for us? No! We can do much better!
For instance, Kevin didn’t stop to consider all the rotting food scraps being wasted! What if we could recycle all that? What if we could dump all those plastics into one place for recycling, and not to commit some poor employee to countless human hours of mind numbing drudgery in sorting them? What if there was a way to recycle everything on that tip? And what if we could do that at an industrial scale, scooping it up in huge bulldozers and dumping it into the open maw of a huge ‘atomic recycler’?
Enter the plasma burner. Seeing those poor kids walking in raw filth has only strengthened my conviction that we need plasma burners, and we need them now! The plasma burner means we just don’t have to pay people to sit around sorting plastic. It means food, shoes, wood, nappies, toothbrushes, asbestos, lawn clippings, bottle tops, margarine lids, and coke bottles can all be dumped into the one big bin. It means virtually everything — apart from radioactive waste — can be recycled at the atomic level through this ‘atom-ripper’!
And this is not ‘some new technology that’s only 10 years away… but always will be’. This is not like fusion power. Test plants have already demonstrated that this works. We just need to scale it up and bring the price down. Indeed, Randwick council are looking into buying a plasma burner! (I know a guy in their waste division).
If we are to learn anything from the hard working Dhavari slum dwellers it is that the little sorting we might still choose to do would go a long way. Instead of letting the plasma burner make us lazy and just throwing all our rubbish into 1 bin, let’s keep at least 2 bins. Three would be ideal.
Sydneysiders already sort our waste into 3 bins. We could keep doing that, but maybe rejig it a little. Our small RED bin for household waste would be replaced with a full sized rubbish bin again. As the household waste bin, it is destined for the plasma burner. Put all the plastics in here! Imagine knowing that every piece of plastic, every dirty nappy, every food scrap, every piece of old rag was going to be vaporised into gas for the petrochemical industry and slag for the construction industry.
We could keep the yellow bin for recycling glass and paper to take the pressure off the sand mines and trees. Imagine only paper and glass in the Yellow bin!
We could keep the Green bin for yard waste and biomass. Sure, any lawn clippings and hedge trimmings that went through the RED bin would have their hydrocarbons recycled into the petro-chemical industry and become everything from jet fuel, or council vehicle fuel, through to new toothbrushes and milk cartons.
However, peak phosphorus and peak oil mean our agriculture sectors will be under pressure. All our city biomass could be helpful as truckloads of biochar fertiliser for local farmers. So instead of the plasma burner, we send Green waste through a lower temperature biochar burner to make gas (for energy) and biochar for farm fertiliser.
Food scraps and vegetable peelings could go into a biodegradable plastic bag in the Green bin. Councils simply pull this bag out of the other yard waste, and dump it in a biogas composter. This makes fuel and fertiliser.
But other councils might only want 1 super-sized rubbish bin that EVERYTHING goes into, and dump it all into the plasma burner for atomic recycling into gas and construction materials. Personally I think that would be a waste. I love biochar, and the food composting bags could go part of the way to solving peak phosphorus. My main point is that we don’t have a lot to learn from Dhavari. They have a lot to learn from us. India needs plasma burners. They are simply magic! No more landfill. No more smell. No more waste. EVERYTHING gets reused!
For more, see https://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/recycle/