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.
Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution
The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.
Time for UK Green Revolution Change
So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.
In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.
The Current Market
The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.
One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.
It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.
How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener
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.
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.