Can I instead pass out some recycling figures for the UK - which are
admittedly a little old from 1992.
Amount of post-ue scrap recycled as a proportion of consumption:
Ferrous metals - 45%
Aluminium - 39%
Copper - 45%
Lead - 64%
Zinc - 21%
Energy saved through recycling:
Ferrous metals - 74%
Aluminium - 95%
Copper - 60-96%
Lead - 77%
Zinc - 61%
Ken is correect in pointing out that many industry sectors have recycled
material and included them in new products as matter of historic course and
economic logic as material extraction is so expensive and time consuming.
My own research sector of White Goods, in 1999 Electrolux used around
3,000,000 tonnes of materials, of which 329,000 were recycled from
consumers and 69,000 tonnes within the factory-gates- thats roughly 10-15%.
Not a massive amount, though many products will be in homes (or probably
showrooms knowing what they design!), to be recycled later. Guess what,
over 90% of these products impacts come from energy consumption - nothing
to do with recycled materials at all.
Of course the main problem is where recycling is most visible - in
people's homes and minds - the recycling rates are pretty much stuck at
around 6% of total household waste.
This discussion does raise an important point for me about notions of
'best' ecodesign practice. Do we define this as the most 'enironmentally
benefitial' or as the most 'visible'.... If its the former, then Stark is
probably far surpassed by many, many , many others whom might not call
themselves sustainable designers. But is its the most visible,
trend-setting, publicity seeking proposals which have the most impact on
society and consciousness.. (which you can't measure in environmental
improvements or even 'measure' at all) then arguable Stark could be in with
a shout!.... My own view is that Stark is nowhere near the most or best
sustainable designer, but we do need his input, showmanship and publicity
generating ability. (See http://www.goodgoods.tm.fr/ for further
It also highlights the pointlessness of 'universal' or generic solutions
for sustainability. Recycling is only one (and perhaps not even the best)
strategy in a whole series of design interventions necessary. Waste
management heirarchies suggest we should: REDUCE energy and material use;
REUSE products or components: only then should we RECYCLE materials.. Its
third in the heirarchy, whereas its mythical status often gives it
Though I do realise the importance of product-orientated discussion (its
helps make intangible environmental problems real), I'm reluctant to use
them as the basis for the whole discourse.
Ken - post this on the list if you think its not too subject specific.
Eco Innovations Group
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