Off the wall: Autumn 2015

A round-up of some of the more unusual stories coming out of the waste and resources world...

Diamonds from the rush hour

Off the wall

They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but if designers at Studio Roosegaarde have their way, some girls (and guys) could just strike up a friendship of sorts with smog, too.

A seven-metre-high tower, described as ‘the largest smog vacuum in the world’, has been unveiled in Rotterdam. The tower, which raised over €113,000 (£83,000) towards its construction on Kickstarter, uses ion technology to clean 30,000 cubic metres of air an hour, drawing in dirty air and using small electric currents to release charged ions that latch onto smog particles, pulling them back into the tower.

As well as creating output air that is 75 per cent cleaner than the existing city air, the sooty particles taken in by the tower will be used to create ‘diamonds’, cubes containing smog particles filtered from 1,000 cubic metres of air. Studio Roosegaarde now hopes to take the tower on a world tour, taking in the likes of Mexico City, New Delhi and Paris. 


Looking for trouble

Waste collectors often have to sift out contamination from recycling, but Lewisham Shopping Centre made it particularly hard for itself. Due to a printing error, whichever side you approached its bins from, recycling went in the left section, mixing the two streams. The error was spotted by vigilant resident Oli Sheppard, who’s studying for a master’s in environmental management. Sheppard told the Evening Standard: “It’s sad to see that just a simple thing like that is not being conveyed to people in the right way. It’s funny, but there is a deeper issue.”

The blunder has a happy ending, though. Manager Paul Redden told Resource the signs were removed right away, adding: “All of our waste is sifted with all recyclable waste picked from the bins to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur. None of our waste goes to landfill and currently over 70 per cent of our waste is recycled.” 

This article was taken from Issue 82


Automatic fire

If ever there were an argument against both guns and burning rubbish, here it is: a man in Kansas has tried to put out a rubbish fire by driving over it... in a van loaded with live ammunition. The man, who has not been named, was burning waste in a field when the fire got out of hand. He rushed to extinguish it by driving his van back and forth over the flames, but when the van’s tyres caught fire and he heard the sound of the live ammunition going off, the driver ran for safety. A fire crew arrived moments later to put out the fire, which now included extra scrap metal.

The man was not charged for his fly-tipping, though a spokesperson for the Clay County Sheriff’s Office noted that insurance costs will be his punishment: “It seems like he’s just going to have to take a loss on that vehicle, because I don’t think they’re going to cover it.” 


Gert Lush

Off the wall

An advertising campaign promoting cosmetics retailer Lush’s packaging-free products has caused quite the storm in a soap-dish after being branded ‘pornographic’. The ‘Go Naked’ campaign, which appeared in stores across Australia, sought to highlight the company’s commitment to reduced packaging, while also promoting body confidence.

After receiving complaints calling the campaign, which featured naked Lush staff with conveniently placed bars of soap, ‘pornographic’ and ‘nudity for the sake of causing a stir’, the Australian Advertising Standards Board ruled that the ad was in breach of codes regarding the treatment of nudity and sexuality.