Recycle: The Essential Guide (A Closer Look)

TH was sent a review copy of Recycle: The Essential Guide a while ago. But in the meantime Bonnie had already picked up a copy and reviewed here. So we thought to do some justice to the copy we received, why not extract for your edification, some of the juicy information contained within. The book is basically a handbook on how recycling works and why it is important. It comprises five main formats: An Introduction by Lucy Siegle, of the Guardian's Observer magazine; Chapters on Paper, Metal, Household Goods, etc.; International Case Studies; a Collection of designer works incorporating recycled and reused materials (most of whom will be familliar to TH readers); and then information sections like organisations, websites, further reading, a glossary and so on. While not a book you are likely to curl up in bed with, it should well suit the eco-curious of all ages, and as act a starting point for researchers. It is a very weighty tome, over 250 pages, with a quiet heavy paper stock. A smaller, lighter book would've used less materials and been less energy intensive to distribute, though it was printed on FSC certified, 100% post-consumer stock, in a production that used biogas energy. There are some editorial missteps. Like on page 46 where its says "... only about a quarter of paper in Britain is being recycled. In America this figure is even smaller." Yet on the facing page, in bold type is this: "The United States recycles 36% of its paper." But as I'm occasionally prone to such slips myself, let's move on to those many other facts and figures:• Industrialised nations, although only about 20% of the world population use 90% of the world's printing and and writing papers.

• every ton of paper recycled saves 3,000 litres of water and 95% of the emissions

• Glass recycling saves about 50% of the energy required to produce virgin glass. This is mostly due to the lower temperatures of the furnace, which in turn extend their life by 20 years. Switzerland and Finland have up to 90% recovery of their glass, whereas Britain and the US can manage only about 30%.

• The city of Curitiba in Brazil gives credits to the poor for every kilogram of waste they bring to a recovery centre. Items like styrofoam are shredded to be made into insulated bedding quilts. Through such initiatives the city recycles almost 70% of its waste.

• Norway introduced a lottery scheme, whereby householders bundled up 7 paperboard milk cartons, with their contact details for submission to a prize drawer of $25,000 USD quarterly. Recycling rates increased from 35% to nearer 60%.

• Switzerland's Zurich started charging their residents for their garbage bags and observed a drop in household waste from 140,000 tons per year to 100,000. This puts their citizen's annual waste at 400kg per capita, compared to the average European, on 540kg.

• Each ton of recycled steel saves 1.28 tons of solid waste, and energy consumption by 75%

• Worldwide the aluminium industry uses as much electric power as the entire continent of africa. recycling one aluminium can save enough energy to run a TV for 3 hours or a 100 watt light bulb for 20 hours

• Since the 1950s consumption of plastic has increased by 2000%.

• In a 7 year period up to 2002, Britain's consumption of PET bottles has about doubled, whereas their rate of recycling for the same has dropped by a third. Plastic makes up 11% of household waste, of which 40% is plastic bottles.

• There is enough cadmium in an older style 'brick' mobile phone to pollute 600,000 litres of water.

• The cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors sold worldwide in 2002 contained approximately 10,000 tons of lead. exposure to lead can cause intellectual impairment to children.

• And speaking of kids, the average British baby goes through nearly 3,800 nappies (diapers) in their first 2.5 years on the planet. In the UK nappies account for 3% of household waste, or around 8 million per day.

But my fav amongst all the examples proffered was the reuse of a squeaky toy. An orange cat was cleverly seconded to be a bike bell, when a Cuban cyclist lashed it to their handlebars. Brilliant.

Buy Recycle: The Essential Guide Edited by Duncan McCorquodale and Cigalle Hanaor.