Tag Archives: Cans

We should celebrate the UK’s ‘can do’ approach

We were reading a community news feed1 that hit our desks the other day and it stopped us in our tracks.

Even though aerosol cans are easily recyclable – and 90% of people in Australia could recycle them, it seems around two thirds (66%) of Australians aren't sure what to do with them. The figure came up in a recycling report by Planet Ark and was reported by our counterpart organisation, the Aerosol Association of Australia (AAA).

Here in Britain, we often think of Australians as being steps ahead of us when it comes to recycling and sustainability.

Yet despite the good work of the AAA, aerosol cans seem to cause confusion with just one third (33%) of people in Oz correctly identifying them as recyclable; 54% incorrectly say they aren't recyclable; and a further 12% say they aren't sure. With Australians using a staggering 250 million aerosols every year, this means an enormous amount of recyclable high quality steel and aluminium is ending up in landfill.

It just acted as a reminder of how far we in the UK have come. Thanks to campaigns by BAMA such as our ‘Can Do’ Awards for local authorities, along with programmes such as the Alupro campaign, supported by BAMA and others, the majority of councils collect empty aerosols from the kerbside and most consumers know they can recycle them.

It’s salutary to remember that in 2001 just 7% of councils recycled empty aerosols; by 2009, 75% recycled; and by 2014 – over 90% recycled. This means that the 30000 tonnes of reclaimable high-grade metal waste produced via the 600 million aerosols or so used in the UK each year gets reused, not sent to landfill.

The latest research we conducted showed that the overwhelming majority of Brits know they can and should recycle aerosols and that, most importantly, most do. Of those who buy aerosols in the UK, 73% are recycling them.

We in the UK should be proud of this achievement. We’re never complacent; we know you don’t have to be bad to get better. However, we think it’s important sometimes to look back on how far we’ve come – and in the case of recycling aerosols, it’s a very long way indeed.

1. Source: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/news/item/8d240b9d722d38c.aspx

2. Survey by GfK NOP for BAMA interviewed 1000 adults aged 16+ by telephone launched March 2013.

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The Appliance of Science

Nick Swift is from The Association of Science Education which runs the website SchoolScience.co.uk. He has been working with BAMA for many years to promote aerosol Science and Technology to schools. Nick is this month’s guest blogger.

Nick SwiftIf you work in the education business you are constantly bombarded by messages from industry, universities and government about the shortage of scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Dozens of websites and schemes are set up to try to solve the problem. None of them do any harm and many are excellent, but all too often they are schemes that will run for a while and then fade away.

The fact is that teachers need to be informed about how science is applied in the real world. I run the website www.schoolscience.co.uk and Twitter account @schoolscience that does just this. We channel scientific news to schools and create original learning resources. Much of science can be dry theory. Our aim is to show how the theory is applied.

When I was asked by BAMA to create teaching resources about aerosols, I jumped at the chance to show how that ubiquitous little can explains a lot of basic science. The index page is here http://www.schoolscience.co.uk/aerosolsindex
To gather the information required took many discusssions with the experts at BAMA and several visits to aerosol companies where I managed to grasp most of the technology. I learned that aerosols look simple and they are simple. The hard part is making billions of them cheaply. Getting into those companies was arranged by BAMA and was crucial to the project. No matter how much internet research you do, there is no substitute for seeing the processes and talking to employees. Some of those employees are featured in the resource.

The resource has to match the science curriculum, so the main issues are vapour pressure, ideal gas pressure, the pressure law, Boyle’s Law and resistance welding. There is a simple treatment of droplet size. Wherever possible, clear pictures and videos have been used. There are question pages and help with pressure units.

The web pages are created in a way that makes the resource editable, so if you have better pictures, more process detail, or any ideas for improving the resource, please get in touch with BAMA and we can look at editing the resource to include them. Comments on the resource are welcome too.

And finally… a story.
Once upon a time I was in Leeds city centre when a new construction project was creating pile foundations. The biggest pile drill I have ever seen was just starting up. Two teenage girls walked past the site entrance. One was awestruck at this massive machine and tried to get her friend to look. Her friend was impatient to get on and never gave the machine a glance. I watched them walk on and wondered if the awestruck girl would study civil engineering, get a £45k starting salary and travel the world.

We can never interest everyone in science and engineering, but giving them access to information at least gives everyone a chance.

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