Author Archives: Zero Waste North West

Garbage Warrior

Michael Reynolds is a  maverick American architect. Garbage Warrior is a feature-length documentary.  It tells  of his fight with and ultimately triumph over bureaucracy as he seeks to create a space, in New Mexico, where he and his colleagues can develop radical approaches to sustainable housing.

He is anything but mainstream.  This is the story of an extraordinary individual and his dream to create more sustainable ways for people to live in the world.   He built houses out of things that other people discarded – old tyres, bottles, beer cans.  The houses that he built in New Mexico were off all the utility grids.   They were autonomous units generating their own power, processing their own sewage. Collecting their own water.

Running time 90 minutes.  Summary at the Internet Movie Database.

DIY Plastic Recycling

In this short video someone from the website Atomic Shrimp explains how to identify  High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic and then goes on to present a hobby project in which, using domestic tools, he recycles a small quantity of HDPE into pieces that can be used in diverse craft projects.

Running time: 14 mins 50 sec.         Uploaded to YouTube: 7 Dec 2012.

It is by no means an industrial process but it is a practical exposition of some of the principles behind plastic recycling.  As such it might be the basis of some educational project work with young people – under proper supervision of course.

In his follow-up video he makes the resulting piece of plastic into a pulley wheel that works with Lego technic.

How Plastic Bottles get Recycled into Polyester

Plastic bottles can be recycled into polyester thread.  It is not a simple process. This video shows how it is done, all the way from when you throw away an unwanted plastic bottle, through the shredding washing and multistep processing until it becomes a material like raw cotton; from  there the process is more like textile manufacturing.

Running time 5 mins 30 sec       Uploaded to YouTube: 13 Dec 2009


Plant Based Plastic

Ten years ago, Helmut Nägele and Jürgen Pfitzer had an idea. Now, their persistence has paid off. Their company, Tecnaro, successfully produces Arboform — a material made from wood that can be processed like plastic, but unlike plastic, it’s biodegradable.  It won the two entrepreneurs the 2010 European Inventor Prize organised by the European patent Office.

Running time: 4mins 30 seconds.  Uploaded to YouTube : 7 Jul 2010

ARBOFORM® is liquid wood

They now make three types of biodegradable plastic materials:

The scariest thing in town

On Halloween night 2013 the  the scariest thing on the streets of Derry was the threat of a Gasification-Incinerator.

We pushed it around the streets, handed out leaflets and collected lots of signatures on the petition against the incinerator.   Above are some photographs.

Incineration No – Zero Waste Yes

Mal Williams from Zero Waste Wales, speaking via an internet video link at the Zero Waste NW public meeting in the City Hotel on Thursday 19th September, said: ‘waste is a mistake’.

He went on to talk about the Museum of Bad Design in Capannori, Italy.  It gives awards to products designed to be thrown out after one or two uses. Not only is this wasteful of time, energy and resources but it has resulted in a worldwide problem with landfill sites emitting methane gases and more plastic than plankton in the oceans.

Mal has been involving communities in Wales in setting up simple systems for doorstep sorting and collecting of resources.   He gave an example of  the village of St Arvans in South East Wales, where with minimum funding it increased its diversion from landfill rate from 35% to 67% in one month!  This is good news for councils facing massive fines under EU landfill directives and a possible alternative to the £500 million MBT and Gasification project proposed by Derry City Council and the other six councils making up the NW Region Waste Management Group.

Paul Connett a professor of Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, also speaking via an internet video link from New York, called the proposed 25 year contract  for the incinerator at Strathfoyle: “preposterous”.   He talked at length about incineration produces nano-particles of bio-accumulative toxins.  He concluded by offering to come to Derry to debate the merits of gasification-incineration compared to a Zero Waste approach,  with any engineer prepared to speak in favour of the process.

Councillor Shaun Gallagher and Mark H Durkan, NI Minister of the Environment, were among those attending the meeting. Minister Durkan said afterwards that, although planning permission had been given for the gasification-incinerator,  neither the permit to operate nor the contract have yet been signed.   He said: “This will land on my desk and I am open to all sides of the argument”.

Eamon O’Donnell from Enagh Youth Forum said his concerns are for the health of the young people living in Maydown and Strathfoyle.  Paddy Casey, UNITE’s convenor in D.C.C spoke about the 4Rs project in Pennyburn which takes furniture, electrical goods and bicycles from the recycling depot, trains young people in their repair and then sells the quality items to the public.

Mary Mc Guiggan ended the meeting by leading a rousing rendition of The Derry Air with new lyrics for the occasion – 
”No Incineration. It’s Zero Waste for me!”  [Full lyrics below the video]

Below is a video of the  complete meeting.

It runs for 80 minutes.  Some shorter “highlights”  will be available in a few days when our video editing team have been put to work on it.


Below are the complete lyrics of Derry Air –  (You know the tune!)

Derry Air

Oh, Derryair, the people, they are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountain-side.
“We want clean air and no incineration
T’is you, t’is you must go and we must bide.
Don’t come ye back to spoil our precious meadows
Nor when our valley’s hushed and white with snow.
For we’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh, Derryair, Oh, Derryair, we love you so.”

If you come here, our flowers they will be dying
And we’ll be dead and dead we sure will be.
For you won’t care what place I will be lying,
An Ave you will hardly say for me.
And I shall hear though soft you tread above me.
Your toxic waste, you hope you’ll hide from me!!!
Yet you will bend and tell me that you love me.


First Public Meeting

No to Incineration, Yes to Zero Waste

Date:  Thursday 19th September 2013

Time: 7:30

Place: City Hotel, Derry

Zero Waste North West invite you to our first public meeting.  It will include speakers from the local campaign against the incinerator at Strathfoyle and international speakers who can put our campaign in context.

The meeting will be chaired by Mary McGuiggan, will  have information about the campaign and how you can help and will include input from:

  • Dr. Paul Connett,  a graduate of Cambridge University with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Dartmouth College.  In 2006, he retired from his full professorship in chemistry at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, where he taught environmental chemistry and toxicology for 23 years.
    He has given public presentations on waste management  throughout the USA and in 50 other countries.  Ralph Nader said of Paul Connett, “He is the only person I know who can make waste interesting.”
  •  Mal Williams, executive director of Zero Waste Wales.  Mal has advised the Welsh government which itself adopted a zero waste strategy in 2010.  Mal has an extensive knowledge of current waste management systems and provides insights on how to drive change and move towards a circular economy with “Zero Waste”.

Help Publicise the Meeting

You can download a Flier, A5-Flier and an A4-Poster for the meeting. Please print them out and distribute around your friends, work colleagues  and neighbours.  Put one up in any public place you can.

Video Samples of Speakers

A small sample of the sort of things that  Mal Williams, of Zero Waste Wales will have to say:

A small sample of the sort of things that  Prof. Connett will have to say:

Watch this space for more details of the meeting! 


Fund Raising Gig

Upstairs at Sandino’s Bar, Water Street Derry.

Wednesday 18th September from 9:00 pm

“Rock Against Incineration”

“Rock Against Gasification”

Rock against Incineration!.  Rock against Gasification!

Rock against Incineration!. Rock against Gasification!

Help promote the gig:

Down load the poster:  A3,  A4,  A5


Great Line-Up:

      • Techno Peasant,
      • John Leighton,
      • Johanna Fegan,
      • Abby Olivera,
      • Conor McAteer,
      • Frank Rafferty,
      • Conor Kelly .
      • and more

All funds raised will go to the Zero Waste North West campaign against incineration and for Zero Waste.