Solar highways could replace utility companies

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Sun shining

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Imagine a world where there were no power lines.  Therefore, we never had power outages or downed electrical lines.  Where no coal was needed to be burned for energy. No nuclear power plants were needed.  No need to deplete our precious fossil fuels or drill in our oceans. In fact, we may not even receive a power BILL.  How could all that be possible?

Think of the one source that is unlimited, unmatched, more powerful than anything in the Universe. The Sun!  The mega light.  The source of life for all living things.  An incredible 10,000 degrees (Fahrenheit) of heat, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  All we have to do is channel it and we’ll have all the energy we could ever want, all the power we could ever use and it would be free!  The vision depends on advanced solar technology…the implementation and then the ongoing management of a massive infrastructure like no other….but it’s not out of reach.  It’s actually more practical than you might believe.

The technology has arrived.  Take a look at the concept of solar-powered highways.  Replacing all of the asphalt in the U.S. with glass solar panels would generate enough power to provide energy for the entire globe.  The entire globe!  The idea in similar concepts has already broken ground in Oregon, is proposed in Italy, Santa Monica and other places.  Santa Monica’s proposed “serpent solar highway” will include charging stations for electric cars.solar-serpent-solar-highway

Since we constantly replace and repair the asphalt on our road systems, which is not at all practical, why not start thinking about better options?  Asphalt is petroleum-based and it’s prevalence in our society (think 25,000 square miles of roadways in the lower 48 states!) promotes our dependency on oil. Haven’t we fed the pockets of the oil companies and the Middle East long enough?

The other incredibly useful purposes for a solar-powered highway are 1) it can melt ice and snow to make travel safer and 2) it incorporates changeable signage to the roads electronically 3) it can replace stop lights, or at least power them 4) it can detect weight at cross walks to keep pedestrians safer.solar highway sign at pedestrian crossing

Here’s a bonus feature of this particular product:  they use waste materials from the landfill and the ocean, mixed with organic material, to make the internal support structure.  Does it get any better?

Watch this video and you will see what a great option this appears to be.  Yes, cost is an issue…but can we afford to stay on our current path? Absolutely not.  This road pays for itself…and for all the electrical power use in the world… so that’s a pretty big return on our investment, wouldn’t you agree?

We must start to embrace and implement renewable, sustainable ideas like this one.  I applaud the engineers and producers of this concept and plan to support their continued efforts.

http://www.wimp.com/solarhighways

There’s cash in your trash! Recycling in the 21st Century

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Picture of a Caterpillar 826C landfill compact...

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Do you realize there is some serious cash in your trash?  Before you go digging into last night’s leftovers and this morning’s coffee grinds, take a closer look at the much bigger picture.

Futurists say that we’ll be employing Landfill Divers soon…divers that go into landfills and sift through years of trash, to find and retrieve recyclables.  Why?  Because recyclable materials are not garbage, they don’t belong in a landfill.  Because the laws will dictate that we recycle just about everything.  And, because there will be a viable market for all types of materials.

Does this give us license to add to the landfills?  No, but it does give us a snapshot of just how valuable our trash can be, now and in the future.

Renee Goodnight, Community Outreach Coordinator for Kannapolis, explained it well when she said, “Throwing recyclable materials into the landfill is like digging a whole and putting money in it!  Recyclable materials are valuable resources and we must start thinking about recyclables differently from our common garbage”.

Locator Map of Cabarrus County, North Carolina...

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Starting next month, 2 neighboring small towns, Kannapolis, NC and Concord, NC are both moving into the 21st century of recycling with new, improved curbside pick up programs.  Both cities will start accepting commingled materials, so there is no sorting involved.  They accept all recyclable items, meaning everything that there is a market for is picked up and reused by somebody, for some purpose.  You can mix your glass, plastic #1-#7’s, paper and even empty aerosol cans together.

The cities estimate that 50% of our currently generated waste will now be recycled!  That is a large step in the right direction, especially considering that one of these towns had NO curbside recycling program in place at all.  People here and all over the globe are going from never recycling to this advanced curbside program, ours comes complete with 96-gallon rolling cartons.  I’m sure you know people who never recycle…because of the inconvenience of sorting and bagging and taking them to their local facility, and who can blame them?  It’s a task not many are willing to add to their busy “TO DO” list.  With the 21st Century recycling programs, automated trucks and manufactured sorting, half of our daily waste will be diverted from the landfill – hallelujah!  That is serious progress in one large step and should give us all hope for the future of our garbage.

There are many other programs across the world, and the industry is evolving rapidly.  Here is another article from The Brink Tank on “Cash in your Trash” that speaks to the same issue, a goldmine of garbage…and an investment in our future!

THE FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Do you have to pay to recycle?

Many folks ask, “Why don’t they PAY US to take our recyclables?”  It’s a fair question, and the answer is found within the confines of franchise agreements, contract negotiations and landfill access.  Some recovery facilities pay for the materials, while others pay nothing.  Sonoco will be paying Concord and Kannapolis for their materials, helping to fund the programs.  Up to now, however, our recycling facility in Mecklenburg County would take your recyclables but did not provide any compensation for them.

Check out their website, Sonoco Recycling is a world leader in recycling, collecting 3.5 million tons of paper, plastic, metal and other materials annually. Their history started in the 1920’s and they currently operate more than 40 recycling facilities.

In Kannapolis, where there are no landfills, residents will pay $3.20 per month for the convenience of curbside services.  The City of Kannapolis pays tipping fees on top of the state taxes to dump all solid waste.  Therefore, the more you recycle in your new bin, the less landfill waste is generated and the more money the city saves at the dump.

One of Dryden, Ontario's Landfill's. This one ...

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All of our recycling efforts go right to the bottom line, so try to fully participate in your local program, regardless of how far it’s come.   It is estimated by the City of Kannapolis that if only 20% of it’s residents participate, it will result in $130,000 less landfill dumping fees.  Kannapolis has a population of less than 50,000 so imagine the possibilites…and do the math.  It’s easy to see that recycling by all of us really does add up to serious cash flow!

We should all be inspired to recycle, as often as we can and as much as we can!  Not only does recycling help our local government budgets, but it also creates jobs for our local, state and regional, even national market.  Now that we’ve arrived full force into the 21st Century, let’s take advantage of the technology at hand.  You can be proud to watch the cash from your trash add up all year.