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An investigation into reusable food containers Al-Khalili, Sadiq; Lau, Jane; Chan, Chris; Chen, James 2012

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UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Report         An Investigation into Reusable Food Containers Sadiq Al-Khalili Jane Lau Chris Chan James Chen University of British Columbia APSC 261 November 24, 2011         Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”. The University of British Columbia  APSC 261  – Technology and Society  Tutorial Instructor: Dr. Carla Paterson      An Investigation into  Reusable Food Containers       Submitted b y:  Sadiq Al - Khalili, Jane Lau,  Chris Chan and James Chen   Date: November 24, 2011   1   Table of Contents Abstract  ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ...........  2  List of Ill ustrati ons  ................................ ................................ ................................ ..........................  3  Glossar y  ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..........  3  1.0 Introdu cti on  ................................ ................................ ................................ ...............................  4  2.0 Research  R esult s  ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................  5  2.1.0 Zipl oc  ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .  5  2.1.1 Economi c Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ............  5  2.1.2 Environmental Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ....  6  2.1.3 Social Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................  6  2.2.0 Snapware Glassl oc k  ................................ ................................ ................................ .........  11  2.2.1 Economi c Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ..........  11  2.2.2 Environmental Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ..  12  2.2.3 Social Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ................  13  2.3.0 Lun chBots  ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................  15  2.3.1 Economi c Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ..........  15  2.3.2 Environmental Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ..  16  2.3.3 Social Aspect  ................................ ................................ ................................ ................  18  3.0 Conclusion and Recomm endati ons  ................................ ................................ .........................  20  Referen ces  ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .....  21     2   Abstract W it h the future constru cti on of the new Studen t Union Buil din g (SU B) , Alma Mate r Societ y (AMS ) intends t o use this opportuni t y to contribute to the campus sustainabili t y go al b y resea rchin g and utili z ing various gr een and susta inable ideas. One of the se ideas involves the install ati on of  Green Vending machines within the SUB that contain a variet y of green reusable products. The ex act brand and t ype of reusable products is still undeci ded so our goal is to resea rch a variet y of these and propose a worth y candidate. The purpose of this rep ort is to report those findings on a samp le of reusable containers and recomm end the ide al reusable contain er to place into these Green Vending ma chines.   Our sampl e of reusable containers consists of th e Zipl oc plastic containe r, the Snapw are Glassl ock gl ass contain er and the Lunch Bots s teel contain er. Th ese br ands were picked b y popularit y and cost, and the materials were pick e d by popul arit y among other reusable produ cts. Our report an al yz es the life c ycle of each of these products in te r ms of their econ omi c, environmental and so cia l impacts. Some assum pti ons were mad e on th e ex act facil it ies and methods used to ex trac t, manufactu re and rec yc l e these products. A student surve y was conducted to find out th e prefer red price for th e se reus able cont ainers and  emails were s ent to comm unicate with our lo cal re c ycli n g facil it y to u nderstand how our produ cts m a y be rec ycled.   The price of purch asin g and rec ycli n g the Zipl oc containers is relativel y cheap compared to the other produ cts but the y negati vel y impact t he environment and so ciet y with their non - biodegr adable natur e, an d their tox ic polluti on generat ed from their prod ucti on and rec ycli n g processes. The Snapwar e contain ers cost too mu ch accordin g to the surv e y and it costs nearl y twice as much to rec ycl e. I ts influ ence on th e environment and societ y are not much bett e r because the y ar e non - b iodegr adable and gen er ate silica polluti on. Although the Lun ch Bots largel y affe cts the envir onment in a negati ve wa y, the y also contribute to the gro wing steel market and  empl o y a great deal of people. To con clude, the Zipl oc contain ers should be chosen for the Gre en Vending machines becaus e the y are ch eape r in te rms of purch ase price and rec ycli n g cost.   3   List of Illustrations Figu re 1: The lif e c ycl e of a product         (Page 4)  Figu re 2 : Surve y Result s          (Page 5)  Figu re 3 :  Chart of Emplo ym ent in the Mining, Oil & Gas Ex tracti on  Industr y   (Page 8)  Figu re 4 : Plastic Factor y in China         (Page 9)  Figu re 5 : Surve y Result s          (Page 11)  Figu re 6 :  Poll ution caus ed b y Iron ore minin g       (Page 1 7 )  Table  1 :  World Iron Producti on         (Page 1 8 )   Glossary Life-Cycle Assessment:  is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product 's life from - c radle - t o - grav e (i.e., from raw mate rial ex traction through mat eri als processi n g, manu fact ure, dist ribution, use, repair and maintenanc e, and disposal or re c ycli n g).  Triple Bottom Line Assessment:  is a decision th at takes into ac count t he social, environmental, and economi c impa cts .    4   1.0 Introduction In today’s society, with growing population and increasing demand for energy, the usa ge of green produ cts has be come one of th e most important  sustainabili t y  top ics. B y simpl y usin g a reusable container, w e  can save signifi cant amount s of mone y and ene r g y . In this report, w e hav e investigated  thr ee dif fer ent brands  that use dif f erent mate rials  for reusa ble containers : Zipl oc (Plastic), Snapware (Gl a ss), and Lunch Bots (Stainless Steel) . For each br and , we  have  an al yz e d  the life cycle usin g t he  triple bottom line  assessment method , ex ploring the economi c, environmental and social impacts of using it . Based on our result s and findings , we  will  suggest one br and amon g st th e t hree  to be sold  b y th e gr een vending machin e  in the new Student Union B uil ding in the Unive rsity of British Colum bia.  The life c ycl es an al ysis involves stud yin g each s tage a produ  ct’s life cycle. The cycle below (fi gure 1) shows each sta ge of a life c ycle.   Figure 1 – The life cycle of a product.   5   2.0 Research Results This  secti on includes th e  result s and  findings of our resea rch . We hav e per formed a Tripl e Bott om Lin e ass e ssm ent for  each contain er br and and divided th e res ear ch result s into three se cti ons: economi c, environmental and soci a l.  2.1.0 Ziploc  Zipl oc containe rs  are pro duced by SC Johnson and are made out of plastic. This secti on investigates the economi c, environmental and soc ial sides of using Zipl oc containers in the new SUB.  2.1.1 Economic Aspect As the Universit y of Bri ti sh Colum bia or the cit y of Vancouve r are not responsi ble for the ex tracti on or manufa cturing sta ges, we will onl y assess th e distributi on and rec ycli n g sta ges of the containers’ life cycle. The av era ge retail price of a pack of 2 -  4  Zip loc plastic contain ers is $3.00  (Zipl oc Products) . This means th at ea ch cont ainer costs roughl y $1.00 to bu y. To assess  wh ether UBC students would bu y re - us able containe rs at this price, we  have  condu cted a surve y and ask ed 100 students the following question “Would you buy a re - us a ble plastic container for $1?” The vast majority answered the question with “yes” as shown in the pie chart below (figu re 2 ).  |  Figure 2 – Survey Results. 8 8  12  Would you buy a re-usable plastic container for $1? Yes No6   S ince the cit y of Van cou ver will be responsi ble for rec yc li ng the containe rs at the end of their life cycl e, it is important to take into considerati on the rec ycli n g co st of these containers. Accordin g to th e annu al report of Encorp Pacific, the net cost o f rec ycli n g plastic containe rs is between 3 and 4 cents dependin g on th e siz e of the contain er (Ecorp Paci fic, 2010) . The report also shows that plastic is significantl y  ch eape r to rec yc le than othe r  materials aside fr om  Aluminum.  2.1.2 Environmental Aspect W ater bottles, lunch containers, and food bags; plastic containers have pla yed an important role as one of the most comm on materials to make  diffe rent t ypes of  containers. Howeve r, it has alwa ys been a controv ersial is sue on how this, so call ed, two - bladed knife woul d impact our environment. Whil e resear ch has show n  how badl y plastic cont ainers  can  dama ge our environment, the societ y cannot li ve without the huge convenien ce  plastic containers brin g  to us. Howeve r, some large co mpanies, s uch as Zipl oc, invest  large amount s of mone y o n adv ertisi ng and promoting their prod ucts as “ gre en ” as possible by coll aborati n g with  Rec yc lebank and push  this idea to the market t hat Zipl oc produ cts ar e now rec yclable. Is this an innovat ive invention that would bring us to another gen erati on of the rec ycli n g process or yet again the same hypnoti z ing strate g y tha t big industries have al wa ys been doin g? H ow would this change the biased view from the soc iet y on how plasti c conta iners im pact the environ ment?  To begin with,  most  plastic containers ar e made from a non - ren ewable natural resour ce: petroleum also known as crude oil. The ex tract ion of  this raw material simpl y  involves  the removal of oil from the reservoir (oil pool). However, this process is costl y and sometimes environmentall y dama gi ng. In fact, offshor e ex plorati on and ex tracti on of oil often disturbs the surrounding ma rine envi ronment. One of the mo st famous oil spills would  be the Deepw ater Horiz on oil spill (also referr ed to as  th e Gulf of Mex ico oil spill or the BP oil disaster) which flowed unabat ed for thr e e months in 2010.  Furthermo re , industrial practi ces  to  manu factur e  plastic  can lead to poll uti ng ef fluents and the use of tox ic intermediates, the ex posure to which can be  haz ard ous (Pollut ion Issues - P lastic). For ex ampl e, there have be en problems in the p ast result ing from the ex posure of workers  to tox ic vin yl chloride vapor durin g the producti on of pol yv in yl chloride (PVC). 7   R esearch ers beli ev e that the toxic air from the  plastic manufacturin g fa cil it ies can case DNA disturbances and increase the animals’ risk of cancer and damage their reproductive systems. Moreover, spilla ge of plastic pell ets that goes into sewage s ystems, and eventuall y to the sea  to be ingested b y ani mals , h as hurt  the  wildlife .  Finall y, most of these plastics cannot be rec ycl ed as convenientl y as glass or al umi num, so the y often end up as  l andfill instead. To help reverse this trend and of fs et its potential product waste, the Zipl oc br and has partn ere d with Rec yclebank to inspire fami li es to increase rec ycli n g behavior and divert more than 100 mill ion pounds of waste from the land fills within 24 months. In addit ion, Rec ycleb an k also offer s  rew ard poi nts for rec yc li ng Zipl oc products which hav e been pro ven to inc re ase t he rate of c ycli n g b y a lar ge amount .  2.1.3 Social Aspect Zipl oc plastic lun ch con tainers ar e compos ed of mainl y pol yprop ylen e an d this t ype of plastic is synthesiz ed from various products of crude oil (How Are Plastics Made? ) . The ex tracti on of crude oil is quite a large industr y an d impacts man y at a soci al level. For one, this specific industr y empl o ys more than 2,200 peopl e in BC, as se en in (figu re 3 ) on the nex t page, and more than 161,600 in the United  States. Despit e the fairl y large internati onal and local empl o yment rate, the work condit ions of these ex tracti on sites are quite unsafe and harmful to the emplo yed. Although the aver a ge hourl y wa ge is about $28.90 in BC, the empl o ye es there ar e required to do hi ghl y st renuous tasks for longer periods of time, which tend to be around 12 hours a da y  (Unit ed States Department of Labor) . In addit ion, these empl o ye es ar e subjected to dangerous work environ ments that ar e pron e to ex p losi ons and are ex posed to haz ardous and harmful materials such as hydro gen sulfide, sulfu r diox ide and heav y m etals, which can cause numerous health problem s. (Weble y, 2010 ) .   8    Figure 3 – Chart of Employment in the Mining, Oil & Gas Extraction Industry  ( Mini ng, Oil & Gas E xtr ac tio n) .  The plastic manu facturi ng industr y empl o ys ar ound 91,530 people in Canada but th e industr y has a t ypic al ho url y wage of about $12. 00 in Ontario (Ontario 's Plastics Industr y) .  The work condit ions ar e often ex treme and involve th e empl o yee to work with dan gerous equipm ent and in ver y hot environ ments filled with harmfu l fumes that cause temp orar y illnesses such as troubl ed - bre athi ng, liver and kidne y problems and other respirator y problems (Ta ylor & Connell y, 2009) . Ap art from the work ers, ne ar b y residents ar e also negati vel y impa cted b y plastic facto ries. Thes e residents ar e forced to live wi th the tox ic fumes th at esc ape from plastic factories, as shown in (fi gur e 4 ), and contra ct he alth problems includi ng skin condit ions, memo r y loss and troubled - breathi ng (Ali son, 2009) . Altho ugh it is not known whether or not S C Johnson utili z es facil it ies such as these produc e or pur cha se their pol yprop ylene plastic, the majorit y of the char acte risti cs appl y to most of the ex ist ing plasti c facil it ies.  9    Figure 4 – Plastic Factory in China ( No te 1 --  Sa y 'No ' to plastic bags , 201 1 )  For th e actual product manufacturin g, a portion of the work forc e is rep resented b y th e 12,000 or more people that SC Johnson empl o ys worldwide. 5,000 of the se people ar e hired to work outside of the United States. Despit e th e po or workin g condit ions in some ex ist ing plastic producti on plants, SC Johnson was awa rded as th e top prefe rred compan y to work at in the ran ge of year 2010 to year 201 1. Once the product is manufactu red, it is distributed to people in over 70 countrie s all around the world  (SC Johnson’s 125 - Yea r Comm it ment to Bein g a Best Place to Work Recogniz ed b y Ina ugur al Great P lace to Work Global List, 2011) .  Ziploc cont ainers are hi ghl y vers ati le and can cater to the needs of an y t y pical UBC student or UBC housing resident durin g their usef ul life stage. Th ese cont a iners are s afe to use in the microwav e to heat up an y food you bu y on campus or brin g from hom e, freez er to keep your food for the n ext da y and  dishwasher to cl ean and reu se the container in pl a ce of disposable, non - biodegr adable and non - r ec yclabl e contain ers. Un li ke non - reus able contai ners, the y ar e also air tight so you can save yo ur food for later consum pti on. The lines on the side for measurin g can also help aid in an y cooking you want to do with the container. In addition, Ziploc’s plastic containers ar e de emed as fre e of bisphenol A ( BP A), which is a ch emi cal thought to be capabl e of causing va rious prostate canc ers. T ypicall y, these containers can last for years so yo u can definitel y reduc e a grea t deal of the disposable container waste that goes into the landfil ls  (Zipl oc® Br and Containers with the Sm art Snap® Seal) .   1 0   Once the Zipl oc containe rs reach their end lives, the y will eit her be rec ycl ed or disposed of but these pro cesses ca n have a negati ve so cial impact. Plastic container s can be rec ycled b ut  the process itself can be harm ful and in some wa ys, more harmful than when it is first s ynthesiz ed. Emplo ye es at plastic rec yc li ng pl a nts have to deal with healt h issues and poor working environments wit h high temper atures an d tox ic fumes. Residents near pl asti c rec ycli n g facil it ies have to deal wit h all er gies caused b y th e tox ic gases in the air or the tox ic material that reach bodi es of dr inki ng water. In China, plastic rec ycli n g plants en ga ge in chil d labour practi c es and these are the plants that will likel y take in our plastic containers  (Gurn on, 2003) . When these containers are disposed, t he y ar e sim pl y goin g to be dumped into a l andfill or somehow find th eir wa y into our water bodi es. Addin g to the capa cit y of the landfil ls will af fect peopl e in a great wa y bec ause there are t hose who live in areas near landfil ls. Such inhabitants develop serious healt h prob lems that can involve the heart, lungs and brain  (How Dan gero us is it Reall y to Live Near a Landfill ? (And How Near is Too Nea r? )) .    1 1   2.2.0 Snapware Glasslock S napewar e is a Cali fornia - based compan y (About Snapware)  that produ ces containers for food or storage. Their Glassl ock line of consists  of glass containers of different  siz es . This section includes the resul ts of our triple bottom line assessment of thes e con tainers.  2.2.1 Economic Aspect T o assess the economi c feasibi li t y of Glassl ock co ntainers in terms of their life c ycle, we have decid ed to anal yz e two stages of the life cyc l e; distributi on and rec yc li ng /di sposal . Since the compan y is bas ed in the United States (About Snapware ) , the Universit y of Britis h Colum bia and the cit y of Van cou ver are not involved in the ex tracti on and manufacturin g sta ges. In addition, t here ar e n o special costs required during the containers’ useful life. The retail price of an i ndivi dual Snapware  Gla ssl ock  container is betw een $7.99 and $12.99 dependin g on the siz e of the container . (S napwar e Products)  Assu mi ng th at the vendin g machine in the new SU B will char ge a simil ar price, we conducted a surve y and ask ed 100 students and current SUB visitors about their opinions . The result s of the surve y are shown in the pie chart below  (fi gur e 5 ) .   Figure 5 – Survey Results. While 23 of the students answered “Yes”, the majority (77) ans wer ed th e questi on with “No. ” When asked about the reason for the choice , man y stat ed that plasti c containers are a much cheap er alt e rnati ve or that the y can simpl y brin g containers from home.  Yes: 23  No: 77  Would you buy a glass food container for approximately $10? Yes No1 2   At the end of the container’s useful life, it will be recycl ed b y the cit y of Vancouver. Th e 2010 annual report by Encorp Pacific shows that the cost to rec ycl e glass is 10 cents per container (Ecorp Pacific, 2010) . This number is almost twice as much as the cost to rec ycle a plastic container of th e same siz e.  2.2.2 Environmental Aspect As with all highl y con ce ntrated industries, glass works suffer from moderatel y hi gh local environmental impacts. Due to the fact th at the y are mature market bu sinesses, the y usuall y  remain in the same  l o cati on f or a lon g time which result s  in residenti al infl uences such as noise, water polluti o n, and air polluti on. There ar e two main sources of noise that comes  from gl ass factories : formi n g machi nes and tru ck movemen ts. The formi n g ma chin es can produc e n oise levels of up to 106 dBA by the op erati on of com pressi ng air. T ypic all y, 600T of raw m aterials has to transport in and out the factor y eve r y  da y, which means that th ere will be a lot of truck movement noises.  In addit ion , wate r is an important factor i n this industr y; it  is used to cool  furnac e s , compressor s , and unus e d molten glass . Most factories use wat er mix ed  with emul sified oil to achieve this process. Ho wever, this oil laden water mix es with the water outflow stream thus making water poll uti on. S ome factories h ave wat er proc essi n g equipm ent that fil ter the wat er and remove the emulsified oi l , but the y do not produc e perf ectl y cle an wate r .   Furthermo re , the burnin g  of gas in air will produc e Nitrogen O x ides, which are produ ced in large amount s  b y gas fired furnac es. Some factories with air polluti on problem s will tr y to solve this issue b y usin g liquid O x ygen. Ho weve r, the l o gic of this given the cost in C arbon of not using regener ators and havin g to liquef y and transport ox ygen is highl y quest ionable. Moreover, the gl ass melting process will also p roduce a si gnificant amount of Sulfur Ox ides, which are  also a sour ce of air polluti on.   Finall y , the most signific ant  environmental impac t is the producti on of car bon diox ide b y the burning of fossil  fuels in the furnace heati ng process and electricit y producti on in order to suppl y th e compressors. Normall y, producin g one ton of glass will also produce about 500 to 900kg of carbon dioxide in the areas usi n g a gas fi red furn ace and co al fired electrici t y.   1 3   2.2.3 Social Aspect The bowl portion of the Snapware Glassl ock containers is made with silicon diox ide (silica), which is actuall y found in sand. To extract this material, there are silica mines that ex ist in various parts of the world. This typ e of m ini ng involves a portion of the 9,700 people in BC enga ged in  the mining that ex cludes those that mine for met als, oil, an d gas. Their wage is approx im atel y $27.96 per hour (Minin g, Oil & Gas Ex tracti on) . Even so, workers  within these mines tend to have to deal with troubled breathi ng due to the silica dust in the air as well as risk contracti n g silicosis, which can be deadl y and is result ed from breathi n g in cr yst all ine silica dust. Surrounding residents ar e also af raid o f the possible healt h problems as si li ca dust can easil y be found in the atmosphere and often coat people’s property (Sand mining surges in Wisconsin, 2011) . The lid on these containers is made of po l yprop ylen e and its impacts on the societ y ar e simil ar to those discussed in the Zipl oc plasti c co ntainer secti on.  The manufacturin g of gl ass also affects people wit hin a close distance to it regardless of whether or not you are inside or outside of the facil it y. Often, work ers i nha le glass microfib ers and handle chemi c als such as ph enol - formald e h yde resin, whi ch cause s cou ghing, breathi ng problems and skin conditions. The people who live close to the facil it y are aff ected gr eatl y b y the gen erated noise and chemi cal or dust p oll ution  in the air and water (Respirator y and skin healt h amon g gl ass m icrofiber producti on workers: a cross - secti on al stud y, 2009) . The manufacturin g of the pla sti c lid should also have the same social impa cts as the entire containe r  from Zipl oc. To manufa cture the overall product , World Kitchen, the distribut or of Snapware, provid es around 2,800 jobs to people (About Snapware ) .  In the end, the manufactu red product is distributed to people living in the U nit ed States, Canada and Asi an b y World Kit chen.  Glassl ock contain ers are also a good choi ce to use in place of disposa ble containe rs because the y ar e  also quite multi - functi onal. You can use these co ntainers in th e oven, microwave, dishwasher and freez er so there is litt le limi tation to the usage of the product. For most people, one would be conc erned about the durabil it y of a glass conta iner but this container in particular is made to be shatt er - r esis tant as well as made out of tempere d glass. This attribute will definitel y add years to the lifeti me of the product and eli mi nate the need for non - reus able containers. The fact that this product is air - t i g ht and leak - proo f all ows the user to take their food around with ease. Sim il ar to the su ggested plastic container, Glassl ock co ntainers ar e also BPA 1 4   free so it is safe to hold yo ur food in. Becaus e the container is made of glass, tox ic material will not en ter or come into contact with you r food like certain plastic container s. As an added bonus, custom ers ar e also curr e ntl y given a 3 year war r ant y on this particula r item  (3.5 - cup Rectan gl e Glass Container) .   After the us eful lif e sta ge, this produ ct will eit her under go its stage of rec yc li ng or disposal. Glass rec ycli n g plant emi ssi ons affect both its empl o ye es as wel l as nearb y residents. For instance, thes e plant s tend to release carcino geni c and tox ic substances that end up co mi ng into contact with the people. Apart from that, the bi ggest problem involves silica that can be found in the powdered glass emi ssi ons and is thought to be connect ed to cancer developm ent  (Edwards, 2007) . Th e di sposal path o f glass is si mi lar if not the same as t hat of plastic due to its non - biode grad able natur e and can also negati vel y influen ce societ y in th e same wa y. Th e onl y upside to the gl ass in th e landfil ls is that it will not ex pel tox ic substances from within it lik e certain pl asti c mate rials.    1 5   2.3.0 LunchBots Lunch Bots produc es foo d containers made out of stainless steel. As with the previous secti ons, this secti on contains the findings of our resea rch pr esented in terms of the life cycle of these containe rs.  2.3.1 Economic Aspect The enti re life cyc le of stainless containers offers numerous amount s of empl o yment opportuni ti es in man y pl aces of the world.  On a global sc ale, logist ics of stainless steel making contributes g reatly to the world’s commerce. M an y int ern ati onal partne rs hips  are formed in man y cases due to transp ortati on of raw materials and finished goods from one part  of the glob e  to another.  Loc al Econom y  Cities  and towns close t o mines and manufactur ing sites often bene fit ec onomi call y b y means of  increas e in tax revenue, improved publi c servic es and goods and increas e in investment in  the area, or even th e countr y. In 2009, Australi a alon g ex ported more th an $31 Bil li on in iron ore; which equates to 2.5% of Australia’s total GDP (Int ernati onal Monet ar y Fund, 2010 ) .  World Commerce  Australi a ex ports about 98% of its iron ore (Aus trali an Tr ade Comm iss ion) .  This creat es a second ar y industr y of shipping these ores t o other internati onal lo cati ons  to be furthe r processed.  Just like the internet is the info rmati onal highw a y for ele ctronics, ships ar e the highwa ys to transport raw materials and fi n ished goods around the world. Th ere fore , transportati on of goods can potentiall y repr esent a siz eable  s hare of the world’s economy. An ex ampl e can be illust rated with a Transnati onal C orporation (TNC) su ch as W al - Mart.    Wal - Mart retails m an y items which are made in C hina. The products a re th en transport ed, likel y with container ships, to the local distrib ution centres a round the wo rld.  These centres then truck the pr oducts to th e local Wal - M arts. As seen in this ex ampl e, the resour ces  required to transport goods ar e ver y siz eable and it can be easil y understood that thes e acti vit ies cr eate jobs and investm ent opportuni ti es.  1 6   2.3.2 Environmental Aspect C onsi dering  th e life c ycl e of stainless steel, it is not difficult to se e that the raw mat erial and refinin g sta ges can potentiall y be the most environmentall y dama gi ng. Support s yst ems in mines and pro cess plants often use large amount of wate r and fuel.  In man y cases, the flu e gas es and liq uid ef fluents ar e quite tox ic. Western nati ons such as Canad a and the United  States have  implemented regulator y constrains such as the Clean Water Act and Cle an Air Act on their industries.  Howeve r, suc h regulations, if the y ex ist , are onl y loosel y follo we d b y participating industries. This section focuses on the mining eff ect of air, water and land.  Impa ct on air qu ali t y  According to the Government of India’s “Comprehen sive industr y docum e nt on iron ore mining”, the mining and processing of iron ore give off mainly the following aerial substances: -  S O X ;  -  NO X ;  -  CO; and  -  Dust.  These are all consider ed as greenhouse gases (G HGs) and m an y scientis t s beli eve the y are one of the c auses of global cli mate ch an ge  (Mini str y of Environment and Forests , Govt. of India, 2007 ) . The follow ing dia gram  (fi gu re 6 ) , taken from the said docu ment, illust rates where these substances, as well as liquid effluent ar e given off durin g the pro cess.  1 7    Figure 6 - Pollution caused by Iron ore mining. Impa ct on wate r  Water is often us ed for lubricati on  and  as a  hea t and mass trans fer med ium . In m an y cases, water is contaminated and untr eated when it is dischar ged into, fo r ex ampl e , a tailin gs pond.  Again, acco rdin g the Indian gove rnment , the cont ami nated wat er bodies have gr eat negati ve impli cati ons on the surrounding eco s ys tems.  For ex ampl e, thousands of ducks were killed by Suncor Energy’s tailing pond in Fort McMurry in October 20 10  (CBC News, 2010 ) . Potable ground wat er sup pl y can also be affe cted t hrough se epa ge if the overla yin g contaminated water bod y is not contain ed properl y.     1 8   Impa ct on land  As mentioned above, iron ore ex tracti on t y pic all y uses open pit mines because it is lower in cost than under ground mines.  Open pit mines requires cl ear cutt ing of overla yin g trees and th e removal of overburdens in order to get to iron ores.  The removal of trees also removes their carbo n monox ide absorbing abil it ies.  In addit ion, the relocated overbur den can cause serious ecolo gicall y problems as the y can displac e anim al habit ats.  2.3.3 Social Aspect The making of the Lu nchBots  stainless steel lunch box es contains man y la ye rs of compl ex it y and ch all en ges.  From iron ex tracti on to retail sales, the tr a nsformation from raw materials to finish products has gr eat social impli cati ons in man y loc ati ons of the world. The most noticeabl y is likel y to be empl o yment and its effe cts on nea rb y towns and cit ies.  Empl o ym ent  The following table  ( ta ble  1 )  concludes the finding of the United States Geolo gical Survey (USGS) on the world iron production tonnage.   Table 1 – World Iron Production ( USGS) .  Countries Production (million tones) China 900 Australia 420 Brazil 370 India 260 Russia 100 Ukraine 72 South A frica 55 Other Countries 50 USA 49 Canada 35 Iran 33 Sweden 25 Kazakhstan 22 Venezuela 16 Mexico 12 Mauritania 11 World Total: 2430 2010 World Mine Production of Iron1 9   For ex ampl e, a ccordin g to the government of Western Australi a, roughl y 342 mill ion tonnes of iron or e is ex tracted from th e re gion with a wo rkfor ce of 26, 051 people  (Western Australi an Depa rtmen t of Mineral and Petroleum Resources, 2001) . This gives approx im atel y 76 empl o ye es for ever y mill ion tonnes  of iron ore ex tracted.  Assuming this statisti c is true of the world, more than 1.8 mil lion people are need ed to be empl o yed to up keep t he world producti on.  Mining Towns  There ex ist man y towns, of even cit ies, whi ch rel y he avil y on the lif e of nearb y mi nes and/or manufacturin g fac tories.  In China, factorie s becam e towns wh ere empl o yees work, reside and the ir chil dr en hav e an educ ati on. In Canad a , Fort McMu rr y and For t St. John are alm ost enti rel y supported b y th e oil and gas industr y in their ar eas. Acc o rding to a recent rese arch th e Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), Fort St John’s real estate market is predicted to outperform hundr eds of other towns and cit ies in Britis h Colum bia due to its impending boom in the natural gas se ctor (Zw amba g, 2011 ) .  Th es e ex ampl es show industries have dir ect social influence on ne arb y towns and cit ies.    2 0   3.0 Conclusion and Recommendations In conclusi on, we have investigated thr ee brand s of reusabl e containe rs that use three different materials: Zipl o c (Plastic), Snapw ar e (Gl ass) and Lunch Bots (Ste el). The result s of ou r resea rch show that the ex tracti on of raw materia ls and the manufacturin g sta ges fo r ea ch have their toll on the environ ment . Bein g dep endent mainl y on petrol eum, the plastic industr y t akes some of the responsi bil ity of the environment al dama ge caus ed by oil spills and the disruption of wildlife. On the other hand, the glass and ste el industries ar e respon sibl e for greenhous e emi ssions as well as water and noise poll uti on.  In addit ion, when comp aring the soci al impacts of the three brands, we found that by creati n g  reus abl e and rec yc lable products, the y all promote sustainabili ty and cons ervati on of natural resou rces  and th e usa ge of eit her will deli ver the sam e messa ge to the communit y. Furthermo re, all three companies as well as their related industries provide man y jo b opportuni ti es to nearb y comm unit ies.  In th e end, wh en comp aring the three produ cts based on their econom ic, social and environmental im pacts, we found that while the y all have positi ve impacts,  none of the s e impacts is significant enou gh to outweigh the dama ge caus ed by produ cin g the cont ainers. Ther efor e, we have decided to base ou r final decision on financi al aspects .   The result s of a surve y that we have conducte d targeti ng UBC students show that students are more willing to bu y Zipl oc cont ainers than others due to the low cost of these containers. In addit ion, we have found throu gh resear ch that plastic is in fact che ape r to rec ycl e than glass and ste el. Therefor e, we recomm end s ell ing Zipl oc containe rs in the Green Vendin g Machine at the new SUB.    2 1   References Respiratory and skin health among glass microfiber production workers: a cross-sectional study. (2009 , August 18). Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Environmental Health: http://www .ehjournal.net/content/8/1/3 6  Note 1-- Say 'No' to plastic bags . (2011 , May 7). Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Greener Note: http://greenernotes.blogspot.com/2011/ 05 /note - 1 - say - no- to- plastic- bags.html  Sand mining surges in Wisconsin. (2011, July 31). Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Wisconsin Watch: ht tp://www .wisconsinwatch.org/2011/ 07 /3 1/sand - mining- surges- in- wisconsin/  SC Johnson’s 125-Year Commitment to Being a Best Place to Work Recognized by Inaugural Great Place to Work Global List. (2011 , October 27). Retrieved November 14, 201 1 , from SC Johnson : http://www .scjohnson.com/en/press - room/press - releases/10 - 27 - 20 11 /SC - Johnson%E2%80%9 9s - 125 - Year - Commitment- to- Being- a- Best- Place - to- Work - Recognized - by - Inaugural - Great - Place - to- Work - Global - List.aspx  3.5-cup Rectangle Glass Container. (n.d.). Retrieved Nove mber 13, 2011, from Snapware: http://www.snapware.com/products/rectangle - glass- container- with - lid- 1101 38 4  About Snapware . (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 201 1, from Snapware: http://www.snapware.com/about  Alison, S. (2009 , July 7). Plastic Hazards: A man's fight against toxic waste. Chiang Mai, 18 .  Australian Trade Commission. (n.d.). Resources: Iron ore. Retrieved November 14, 2011, from Australian Trade Commission: http://www.austrade.gov.au/Invest/Opportunities - by - Sector/Resources/Iron - ore/default.aspx  CBC News. (2010 , October 26). Oilsands tailings ponds kill more ducks. Retrieved November 13, 201 1, from CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2010/ 10 /2 6/edmonton - more- ducks - tailings- pond.html  Ecorp Pacific. (2010). Container Recycling Fees. Burnaby: Ecorp Pacific.  Edwards, R. (2007 , May 6). Fears over dust from glass recycling plant HEALTH: POLLUTION . Retrieved November 14, 201 1, from Business Library: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_20070 50 6/ai_n19064 06 9/  Gurnon, E. (2003, J une 5). The Problem with Plastics. North Coast Journal .  How Are Plastics Made? (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 201 1 , from Reachout Michigan: http://www .reachoutmichigan.org/funexperiments/quick/plastic.html  2 2   How Dangerous is it Really to Live Near a Landfill? (And How Near is Too Near?). (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 201 1, from SixWise.com: http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/0 9/ 29 / how - dangerous- is- it- really - to- live- near- a- landfill - and- how - near- is- too- near.htm  International Monetary Fund. (2010). World Economic Outlook Database.  Johnston, K. (2008 , October 2008). Shut down for speaking up. New Times, 23(13).  Mining, Oil & Gas Extraction. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 201 1 , from A Guide to BC Economy and Labour Market: http://guidetobceconomy.org/major_ind ustries/mining.htm  Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India. (2007). Comprehensive Industry Document On Iron Ore Mining. New Delhi.  Ontario's Plastics Industry. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2011, from Ontario Canada: http://www .ontariocanada.com/ontcan/1medt/downloads/sector_brochure_plastics_en.pdf  Snapware Products. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2011, from Snapware: http://www.snapware.com/products  Taylor, P ., & Connelly, L. (2009 , March). Before the disaster: health, safety and working conditions at a plastics factory. Work Employment & Society, 23(1), 160 - 1 68 .  United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition, Mining. Retrieved November 14, 201 1, from Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www .bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs004.htm  USGS. (n.d.). Iron Ore Statistics and Information. Retrieved November 13, 201 1, from USGS: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/iron_ore/  Webley, K . (2010, April 24). Just How Dangerous Are Oil Rigs, Anyway? Time Magazine .  Western Australian Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources. (2001). Mineral and Petroleum Statistics Digest.  Ziploc Products . (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2011 , from Ziplo c: http://www .ziploc.com/Products/Pages/default.aspx?browseBy=Microwave&browseByCat=Foo dStorage Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap® Seal. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 201 1 , from Ziploc: http://www .ziploc.com/Products/Pages/ContainersSmartSnapSea l.aspx?SizeName=Medium%20 Rectangle Zwambag, B. (2011 , November 15). Fort St. John facing real estate boom. Retrieved November 17, 201 1, from Alaska Highway News: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/article/20111 11 5/FORTSTJOHN01 01 /31 11 599 79 / - 1 / fortstjohn/  2 3    

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