Thursday 24 November 2011

Mobile phone recycling

Most materials that go into making a mobile phone can be recycled. However research by the mobile phone industry’s official recycling program MobileMuster has shown that around 19 million defunct mobile phones are not in fact recycled. While the study shows that the majority of owners would be happy to drop their old mobiles into a recycling bin, rather than in the rubbish bin it appears that most are unsure about how to delete and save their stored data, and are concerned about access of their private information.

To help allay these concerns the manager of MobileMuster, Rose Read, assures people that all old phones and sim cards passed into their recycling bins are completely destroyed during the recycling process. “Every mobile phone and accessory is dismantled here in Australia prior to being processed for material recovery. None are refurbished or resold,” Ms Read says.

However for those who remain unconvinced, but who would otherwise be happy to recycle their old mobile phones, deleting and saving stored information is as simple as getting onto the phone manufacturer’s website, or calling their help-line for guidance on how to delete, save or transfer the data.

With 250,000 mobile phones and components equating to around 48,000 aluminium cans, 2,400 plastic fence posts, and gold, silver and stainless items that would otherwise take around 730 tonnes of gold ore, 808 tonnes of silver ore and 178 tonnes of copper sulphide to make, it is obviously a good idea to learn how to remove the data from your mobile phone, or transfer it to your new phone, rather than keep a clutter of unusable technology.

Mobile Muster usually has a number of drop-off points in various shops around town for old mobiles.  Alternatively, you can pick up a free satchel and label from your nearest post office and mail your own parcel so that your mobile will  be recycled.

            - P Edwards

Thursday 17 November 2011

EARTH MATTERS Monday 21 November

The Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition and Clarence Environment Centre run Earth Matters, an information session on environmental issues, every two months.

The next Earth Matters session Nature in Crisis – the Murray-Darling and the Pilliga is at 5.30 p.m. on Monday 21 November.  Carmel Flint will discuss two important issues – threats to Murray-Darling Basin ecology and the impact of a coal seam gas  project in the Pilliga woodlands in the central west of NSW.  Carmel's presentation on the Pilliga illustrates clearly the problems associated with coal seam gas mining and exploration while her presentation on the Murray-Darling and its ecology highlights the importance to all Australians of  returning this river system to good health before it is too late.

The venue is the staffroom, Grafton Primary School in Queen Street, Grafton.  All welcome.  Further information – Stan on 66449309. 

The presenter Carmel Flint has an impressive record as an environmental campaigner, particularly in relation to forest protection .  Her most significant achievement in recent years was the campaign leading to the declaration of the new Red Gum national parks in the south of the state.  She is currently campaigning to save the Pilliga from coal seam gas mining.
 In 2010 Carmel's environmental achievements were recognised  in the Clarence Valley when she was installed as a Re-Weaver of the Tapestry by the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition and the Clarence Branch of the National Parks Association.

Monday 14 November 2011


The Clean Energy Future legislation has finally been passed by both houses of the Australian parliament.

The much-debated  price on carbon is the major part of this comprehensive package.  A fixed price of $23 per tonne will apply after 1 July 2012 and will be paid by the country's largest polluters..  In three years this will become a flexible price.

Other important features are the $10 billion for renewable energy projects, $1 billion for a biodiversity fund and the commitment to close 200 MW of coal-fired electricity generation from up to three of the most polluting power stations. And then there is the package to compensate most households for price increases resulting from pricing carbon pollution.

It is a sad reflection on Australian politics that the serious threat of climate change could not have been dealt with in a bipartisan manner.  Instead we've had to endure months of scare-mongering, exaggeration and posturing by those wanting to delay even further any effective action to move our nation towards coping with the complex changes ahead of us.

The need for urgent action has been further highlighted by a recent report from the US Department of Energy that worldwide about 512 million tonnes more carbon was pumped into the air last year than in 2009, an increase of 6 %.

Obviously time is running out for humanity to limit temperature rises and the associated extreme weather events.  In addition there are a myriad other effects  such as sea level rise and the associated humanitarian and economic  costs, changes to rainfall patterns, migration of  diseases such as malaria, and biodiversity loss – to mention but a few.

The Clean Energy Future legislation is an important first step that we need to build on to ensure that humanity and the wider community of life has a future.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Well done Safcol and Coles

Recently the major fish canning company, Safcol, decided to ban all tuna sourced by any but a pole and line fishing method. Now Coles has come on board, and is stocking Safcol's only truly sustainable, Greenpeace approved products on their supermarket shelves.

The problem began in the 1960-70s, when shocked consumers learned of the numbers of dolphins killed as bycatch by tuna fishermen. In purse seine fishing, pods of dolphin that swam with yellowfin tuna were driven into nets the width of 10 city blocks, which closed in a purse-string action and winched out dolphins along with the tuna. An estimated 6,000,000 dolphins died in this time.
A boycott and downturn in yellowfin sales forced a change in technique. Cork floats were removed, the boats were backed off to let the following net edge fall, and the dolphins swam free above the rim leaving the tuna in the closing nets. Dolphin bycatch reduced by 99%, but still 20,000 dolphins died each year - still the largest globally recorded fishing bycatch.
Under pressure, a dolphin-safe method came in – fish aggregation devices (FADs). Now floats shaped like seaweed, logs and jellyfish, fitted with sonar and GPS systems, monitor numbers of bigeye and yellowfin tuna that ‘aggregate’ around the floats, and let fishermen know where and when to catch them.
Instead of 5-30 metric tons (MT) by purse seining, fishermen now bring in up to 200MT, with less time and fuel wasted in the effort. Not surprisingly this ‘fishing’ method, driven by demand for dolphin-safe tuna, results in bycatch and death of countless juvenile tuna and unwanted fish.
We live in a limited ecosystem, yet still persist in seeing it as limitless. Ocean fish might potentially feed the world, if correctly managed and allowed to grow, but the drive for money means stocks are rapidly dwindling. FADs are not the problem, so much as those who benefit by them.
While other canning companies still sell ‘dolphin-safe’ tuna sourced from FADs, it is easy to see which product the savvy consumer should be buying. 
P Edwards  (originally published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Daily Examiner)