Archives for waste management



With So Much Food, Why Do So Many People Go Hungry?

Writing for Foreign Policy, John Norris explores this question: why does hunger still kill “more people every year than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined” when one-third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted?

In the developing world, Norris writes, actual consumers waste little food:

Instead, much more of the food waste in the developing world comes further upstream in the production process.

Crops are inefficiently farmed with outdated tools, and often harvested early because farmers are under economic and climactic duress. To get meat, fruits, vegetables and fish to market in the developing world often means navigating lousy roads, using warehouses without proper refrigeration, facing greater vulnerability to pests, and any number of other factors that drive up spoilage and losses. A gallon of milk doesn’t last nearly as long when it is transported in a can that ends up sitting in the hot sun under a banana leaf.

It’s a different picture in the developed world: Read More »



The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?

Season 3, Episode 3

Until not so long ago, chicken feet were essentially waste material.  Now they provide enough money to keep U.S. chicken producers in the black — by exporting 300,000 metric tons of chicken “paws” to China and Hong Kong each year. In the first part of this hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner explores this and other examples of weird recycling. We hear the story of a Cleveland non-profit called MedWish, which ships unused or outdated hospital equipment to hospitals in poor countries around the world. We also hear Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold describe a new nuclear-power reactor that runs on radioactive waste. Read More »



A New Kind of Toilet Paper

Our podcast “The Power of Poop” explored a variety of uses of human waste, including fecal bacteriotherapy (or a “transpoosion”), a poop-powered car, and homes heated with human waste

Now there’s another use. From Israel’s Ynetnews:

Dr. Refael Aharon of Applied CleanTech has developed a system capable of turning stinking sewage into a renewable and profitable source of energy. How?

About 99.9% of the drainage which comes out of our homes and flows through pipes is water. The remaining 10% are comprised of solid substances which can be used for the production of cellulose, which is used to produce paper.

Read More »



Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Cremate

Crematoriums in Denmark want to recycle their “waste heat” by distributing it into local heating systems. The Danish Council of Ethics didn’t have a problem with the idea, as the Economist reports, but it did advise that “burning granny especially to warm radiators would be indecent and illegal.” Read More »



Bottled Water Is the Enemy

Mayor Ken Livingstone of London is urging his citizens to forego bottled water in light of the drag it puts on the environment. Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York has done the same. Others, meanwhile, have taken the further step of an outright ban on bottled water. Your thoughts? Read More »



Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: Dog-Waste Management

The October 2, 2005, Freakonomics column appeared in the annual New York City issue of the New York Times Magazine. In keeping with the Freakonomic tenet that few topics are too trivial for dissection, Dubner and Levitt turn their attention to the essential New York City issue of dog poop. Click here to read the column. This blog post supplies additional research material. Read More »