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Manufacturing in the Age of Recycling


In today's world, actions of manufacturers influence the lives of others. That means companies must act responsibly, so engineers must...

Develop products knowing their use, how long they last, and how they are thrown away;

Select materials based on the environment as well as the cost;
Make materials in a safe, clean building with minimal waste; and
Put products in environmentally friendly containers.

 


Activity

The amount of trash placed in landfills and sanitary dumps is a major concern. Let's look at how much space trash really occupies.

Materials

Large cardboard box
Clean plastic jugs or cartons
Dozens of aluminum cans
Paper and pencils
Calculator

1. Fill a large box with plastic jugs, aluminum cans, etc.

2. Calculate the total amount of trash in the container. (Use the equation of height x width x depth for the amount of trash in the box.)

3. If everyone in your house contributed the same amount of trash each week, how much space would be required each year?

4. Compact the trash (crush, chop-up, etc.) then calculate how much space would be required.

5. If everyone in your neighborhood contributed the same amount of trash each week, how much space would be required each year? If compacted, how much space would be needed?

Trash placed in landfills and sanitary dumps may last far longer than desired. Research and determine the life of a product package in a landfill (e.g., plastic milk jug, aluminum can, plastic candy bar wrapper, etc.). Based on that research, what packaging materials seem to be the easiest/hardest to recycle; easiest/hardest to compact; easiest/hardest to decompose?

Look at the products around you. How would you change the products you use everyday to make them more environmentally friendly?

Activity was provided by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.




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