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, No 4
  • Original articles
    A Study of Episodic Waste Generating Activities for the Formulation of Sustainable Waste Management Policies
    2008, 4(4): 307-318.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.08.4.p307.mag
    Abstract    PDF (189KB)   
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    Representative data on waste generation is an important pre-requisite in the formulation of sustainable waste management policies. In relation to this, data on the quantities and composition of waste arising from 681 English households during the period 2000 – 2004 was analysed under contract to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The data was self-recorded by each household as part of a tutor-marked assignment completed by students on The Open University's course 'Environmental Control and Public Health'. Waste was sorted into 15 categories and the quantity of each category of waste arising over a four-week monitoring period was recorded. In addition, each household was asked to complete a questionnaire profiling its social composition and waste disposal practices.
    The arithmetic mean of the waste arisings (22.5 kg/hh/wk) exceeded the median (15.0 kg/hh/wk) by 50%. The size of the skew statistic (21.5) provided confirmation that the frequency distribution of waste generation rate data was positively skewed about the mean. The distribution also lacked the necessary curvature. The distribution was more peaked than that of a normal distribution. This was determined from visual examination and analysis of the kurtosis statistic (505.4). The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test for goodness of fit confirmed the lack of normality in the data. A less-skewed set of waste generation rate data was obtained when households reporting irregularly-occurring waste generating activities during the four-week monitoring period were excluded. Even so, a significant degree of skew and kurtosis remained among the remaining group of households, and the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test indicated that the log-normal model provided a best-fit for the data.
    The study concludes that temporal variations in the rate of waste generated by individual households have only a minor impact on the distribution of data about the sample mean and that the lack of normality in waste generation rate data acquired at household-level reflects differences in the underlying rate of waste generation. It also finds that very high rates of waste generation, often the result of irregularly-occurring, atypical episodes of waste generating activity, generate outliers in an otherwise log-normally distributed set of data. This permits the use of statistical methods which have been developed in order to estimate more accurately population means and associated confidence intervals derived from non-normal data. The findings can lead to sustainable waste management.
    Received on April 22, 2008
    References: 10

    Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment: Do New Regulations Promote Sustainability?
    2008, 4(4): 319-332.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.08.4.p319.mag
    Abstract    PDF (127KB)   
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    Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is a priority waste stream within the EU. This had led to the introduction of many new legislative requirements covering the treatment of such items as waste, whether it is re-use, recycling or final disposal. These regulations were introduced to promote a sustainability agenda when dealing with WEEE, but in many cases may have been counter-productive. This article demonstrates the ways in which this has occurred using refrigeration units as an example, in terms of reporting requirements under the introduced legislation, transport and handling, and economic and social sustainability issues surrounding the markets for such items and their components.
    Received on February 19,2008
    References: 26

    Sustainable Product Design in Seals
    2008, 4(4): 333-344.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.08.4.p333.mag
    Abstract    PDF (6165KB)   
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    Good product design implies reliability and longevity of that product or component when in service. The environment in which the product functions can vary but should be taken into account during design. A case study is presented which shows how failure of NBR seals in a semi-conductor process plant was caused by small traces of ozone within a pneumatic control system, and resulted in substantial losses of product through equipment downtime. The seals could have been protected against ozone attack, but the risk was ignored during design of the system. Many common elastomers are susceptible to ozone cracking, and protection against attack is readily available. Sustainable design requires that critical components should resist all conceivable environmental risks, such as ozone traces in the atmosphere. There were several ways in which the production line could have been protected at very low extra cost.
    Received on December 10, 2007
    References: 09

    Innovative Bearings to Improve Performance and Efficiency in Industry
    J. K. MARTIN
    2008, 4(4): 345-356.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.08.4.p345.mag
    Abstract    PDF (728KB)   
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    Up to one half of the total usable energy produced in the world is consumed in overcoming friction. There have been a number of initiatives launched in the field of lubrication as potential sources of significant improvements in energy efficiency in a wide range of engineering products, industrial plant and processes. This paper reviews some of the background to these claims and how a novel design of adjustable fluid film bearing shows promise to both improve performance and save energy. Simulations and practical tests have demonstrated clear improvements over conventional fluid film bearings, along with a number of other benefits that may be of interest to designers and users of such bearings.
    Received on February 04, 2008
    References: 10

    Design Improvements from Users' Experiences of Low and Zero Carbon Technologies
    2008, 4(4): 357-370.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.08.4.p357.mag
    Abstract    PDF (132KB)   
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    The development and rapid consumer adoption of low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies are key elements of UK and EU carbon reduction strategies to meet the challenge of climate change. Many LZC technologies are available, ranging from established energy efficiency products such as home insulation and energy-efficient lighting to more innovative renewable energy technologies, including solar thermal systems, micro-wind turbines, solar photovoltaics and biomass stoves. This paper examines key influences on consumer adoption – and non-adoption – of energy efficiency products and renewable energy systems based on the findings of a UK Open University project, which conducted some 111 in-depth telephone interviews plus an on-line survey with nearly 400 responses. The results show that it is important to research consumer requirements and use behaviours when developing 'green' technologies. Consumer adoption of LZC products and systems has been relatively slow and, even when installed, due to behavioural effects, they have not always reduced carbon emissions as much as expected. The results of this study of UK consumers' experiences shows that improved designs are required to address barriers to LZC adoption and problems in use, including functionality, ergonomics, interconnectedness with other systems and symbolic value, as well as price and payback. Offering challenges for designers, engineers and managers, the paper identifies user-centred improvements to promote more rapid adoption and effective use of LZC technologies.
    Received on February 04, 2008
    References: 27

    Satisfying Sustainability Skills Needs at a Distance
    2008, 4(4): 371-384.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.08.4.p371.mag
    Abstract    PDF (2193KB)   
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    The supply of environmental goods and services is a large global industry and is predicted to increase by 45% by 2015. This will generate an increased demand for environmental professionals which will, in part, be met by people studying on a part-time and distance learning basis to updating their existing knowledge and acquiring new skills. Teaching practical subjects such as environmental engineering by distance learning presents several challenges in terms of ensuring that students gain practical fieldwork and laboratory skills as well as experience of working on projects. Students taking courses leading to the Open University's Diploma in Pollution Control gain such experience through the use of a home experiment kit that allows them to investigate their own environment while developing key skills. Students engaged on an environmental impact assessment project use a multi-media resources DVD containing virtual reality views of the proposed development, maps of the region, supporting technical data, interviews with experts and advice from a virtual tutor. A survey of students that have undertaken these courses show that the majority are studying to develop or change their careers and over a third of the students received financial support from their employers.
    Received on January 16, 2008
    References: 16

    Environmental Standards, Management Systems and the Illusion of Progress
    2008, 4(4): 385-399.  doi:10.23940/ijpe.08.4.p385.mag
    Abstract    PDF (197KB)   
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    This paper aims to specify the conceptual and operational limits of codified environmental management systems (EMSs). Taking technical standardization as a departure-point, it is argued that key shortcomings regarding the contribution of EMSs towards environmental performance improvement (and thus ecological sustainability) can be identified: First, there are limitations to the self-regulatory framework adopted by organizations. Second, there are problems inherent within the development of EMS from prior management systems approaches, mostly based on a narrow and limited definition of quality. Third, there are errors of implementation and associated certification which compound a lack of progress in environmental improvement and progress towards sustainability. The implications of these limitations are presented and it is demonstrated that they are compounded by an appearance of progress, when in reality, little is changing. The authors point out that this failure of system based self-regulation argues for a move to performance based regime, driven if necessary by regulation.
    Received on January 07, 2008
    References: 31

ISSN 0973-1318