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Environmental Impact of Gritting

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As winter draws in and nights start to get colder the sight of the gritting vehicles out patrolling the streets will become a common sight. As they make their way up and down the roads and around the car parks and paths some will be wondering effect the gritting process has on the environment.

Both the Environment Agency and the Highways Agency have undertaken numerous studies looking into the effect of salt spreading on the environment. They looked at what happens when the salt interacts with plants and wildlife on road verges and what happens when it gets washed into rivers and waterways. Click nationwide gritting services to find our more information.

Rock salt is the major de-icing agent used on roads in the UK. It can contribute to elevated levels of sodium and chloride in nearby waters when applied to the road service quickly followed by rainfall. However, sampling from streams in spring and found no evidence of significant impact on wildlife. The concentration of salt in the water was not high enough to cause significant long-term damage.

Salt gets into the water as the ice melts; as such the salt has already been partially diluted before it even enters the waterway. Add to this the fact that during the winter months, when salt is being spread, it is unlikely that rivers and streams will be running low (typically experienced in summer months). Actually it is more likely that winter rainfall will mean the waterways are running high enabling more dilution of the salt.

Despite this, gritting contractors are still looking for ways to reduce their salt usage. There are many ways they are going about this. Some are investing in better hoppers that can control the amount of salt that gets laid down, cutting down on over gritting. Some are also looking at using water or agricultural by-products that can be mixed with the salt reducing the overall amount needed making for a more economical service.

Gritting vehicle emissions will also have an impact on the overall sustainability of the gritting process. The gritting process by its very nature relies heavily on its fleet of vehicles. Therefore contractors should be looking at any ways they can reduce their CO2 emissions. Ensure they use good scheduling tools to make sure the routs are as short as possible. Many now use vehicle tracking tools to gather data on distance travelled, using this to inform their rout planning.

We must also remember that there is an environmental impact from the salt production method itself. There are two types of salt commonly used for gritting; rock salt and marine salt. As rock salt requires extensive mining in order to be obtained there will inevitably be some impact on the environment. Large earth moving equipment is used to extract the rock salt, which inevitably produces CO2. Also, as with any form of mining, there are possible risks including erosion, formation of sinkholes and loss of biodiversity. However, when managed correctly the risks can be reduced greatly. For example, the Winsford rock salt mines (the largest salt mines in the UK) is very stable and every tunnel mined is still intact – and there are over 160 miles of tunnels!

The great thing about marine salt production is that, unlike with rock salt, there is no mining involved and therefore none of the associated environmental impacts. Marine salt is manufactured by evaporating the water from brine. Although there are no immediate effects in obtaining the brine, the evaporation process requires the use of heat energy, which again produces some CO2 emissions. The vacuum process makes sure that the process is as efficient as it can be to minimise the effect the process has on the environment. Whilst both of these processes require energy input, neither is considered to be excessive and manufacturers look to maximise their energy efficiency wherever possible.

You should always consider the overall energy impact of the gritting process when considering your winter maintenance needs. Even though the environmental impact is minimal there are things contractors can do to ensure these are reduced further. Whether that is through their gritting methods, vehicle emissions or the process by which their salt is produced.

Thanks to Mitie Landscapes for providing us with this insight. Click nationwide gritting services to learn more.

 

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Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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