Voodoo science and practical ways to reduce waste

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From: RJ Barnard, Staincross, Barnsley.

WHILE recognising the shortcoming of wind turbines, Mr Bateman (Yorkshire Post, January 29) advocates the use of fuel pipe magnets to reduce emissions and cut fuel consumption by cars.

This is not a new idea and was first tried on aeroplane engines over 70 years ago when the original intention was to trap minute pieces of metal before they could get as far as the carburettor. Not a serious problem with modern cars, where most of the fuel pump components are made from plastic.

The usual argument in favour of magnets is that the magnetic field breaks up clusters of fuel molecules in the petrol and, therefore, causes it to burn at a higher temperature.

A curious claim, given that petrol is not magnetic and in any case if the fuel line is steel then the lines of magnetic flux would flow along the walls of the pipe and not through the fuel itself.

The only real “saving” from fuel magnets would be not to spend money on them in the first place!

Regrettably voodoo science is not the sole preserve of the high priests of wind power.

From: Graham Lund, Dalrymple Street, Girvan.

YOUR feature on recycling (Yorkshire Post, January 29) raised useful issues. Washing and transporting scrap glass is very expensive in terms of fossil fuel. Further energy is used to melt it and turn it back into another bottle. I remember Friends of the Earth being set up in 1972 with a campaign to “Bring back the bring back”. The message is yet more relevant today and I believe the policy still stands at FoE.

Despite overwhelming environmental and altruistic reasons to pursue environmental policies, it took a shortage of landfill sites to cause councils to impose landfill tax on waste. Should some of the cash raised not be used to set up collection facilities for whole glass bottles?

More standardised bottles would be widely acceptable to manufacturers and bottlers to reuse once cleaned.

On a positive note, construction has begun on an anaerobic digester for waste in Cumbria. “Waste” methane can then be collected to make electricity.

Maybe all that water leaving the lakes can be used to generate even more!

From: Peter Horton, Sandy Lane, Ripon.

From your feature “Travel on Taxpayer” (Yorkshire Post, January 29), I refer to the piece on North Lincolnshire Council and their various excursions to see and evaluate different waste disposal systems.

Many years ago, companies that were bidding to supply councils with technical equipment would have been quite willing to take members and officers to see their products in action and to provide an opportunity for the visitors to talk to their other customers, and all at no cost to the council itself.

Nowadays such long-established practice is frowned upon and considered to be some form of bribery or undue influence, despite the fact that it was open to any potential supplier to offer such facilities.

Thus we see the law of unintended consequences where the oppressive “standards” rules introduced by the last government have only served to heap further costs on the long-suffering council tax payer.

From: Emily Hallewell, Chadwick Street, Leeds.

Becky Slater (Yorkshire Post, January 25) is right when she says that we ought to be more ambitious in our plans to recycle.

Not only does recycling save us from wasting limited resources and creating unpleasant landfills; the more we do it, the more time and money will be invested in developing the technologies that will make recycling itself greener and more efficient.

With this in mind, I was unhappy to find that The Light, in Leeds, does not offer recycling facilities for anything but cardboard for the many businesses housed within it.

The large quantities of plastics, bottles and jars we empty each day have nowhere to go but the rubbish bin, thence to landfill.

I wonder how much higher our country’s recycling percentage would be if such places, their daily off-casts totalling more than my yearly, took responsibility and provided the recycling facilites they ought.

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