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Cradle to Grave: The Pencil
Transcript of Cradle to Grave: The Pencil
By Abbi Carswell and Ryan Kane
A pencil is composed of graphite , cedar wood, aluminum metal prong called a ferrule, and an eraser
Pencil Making Today: 10 Steps to the Perfect Pencil." Pencils.com RSS2. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2014.
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"Timberlines." : Pencils: An Environmental Profile. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014. <http://timberlines.blogspot.com/2006/01/pencils-environmental-profile.html>.
How Pencils Are Made." How Pencils Are Made. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://www.pencilpages.com/articles/make.htm>.
Graphite- Pencil graphite is excavated directly from mines in and around China.
Cedar wood- The Cedar wood used in pencils is usually California Cedar, which originates in forests in the California and Oregon mountains of the United States.
Pumice- Pumice is found worldwide, but it comes primarily from mines in Oregon, Idaho, and New Mexico.
Rubber- Some rubber is produced using the latex derived from trees. Most erasers use this type of rubber, which originates at tree plantations in Southeast Asia and South America.
Aluminum- It is mined on the slopes of Northeastern China,
How to be Obtained
Most of the components of the pencil, other than the Cedar wood, originate in mines. Mines use a massive amount of fossil fuels as a means of powering the mining operations. Energy costs represent approximately 15% of the expenses of the mining industry. Cedar harvesting also represents significant energy consumption.
The minerals are refined in factories separate to the pencil production factories. The minerals are refined using chemicals and coloring, and then mixed and shaped until they reach the ideal consistency. At this point, the minerals are refined an additional time, at which point they achieve maximum consistency.
The minerals a typically shipped via train to the factories, and occasionally shipped through commercial trucking. The Cedar crosses the ocean usually on container ships through intermodal freight transport, which arrives after stops in the Spice Islands. The shipping containers are then loaded onto a truck and taken to a factory in China. The ships are powered through commercial diesel, and the trucks are also powered through diesel. The trains are coal powered. The trucks emit 30% energy proportionally than the container ships.
Container ships cost about $16 Million to operate per trip, due to the port charges, fuel, administration, stores and lubes, insurance, repair and maintenance, and staffing. Trucking costs significantly less, about $14,000 per trip. This is due to the insurance, fuel, driver fees, and maintenance.
A pencil is packaged in a very thin cardboard box, and then piled up with dozens of other boxes into one big cardboard box ready to be shipped out all over the world.
Energy and Pollution
A pencil does not require energy, but to use the pencil and make it work, we use kinetic energy. The waste that a pencil produces is the pencil and eraser shavings.
A pencil is used until there is no more graphite. The pencil shavings are generally thrown away and do not use a lot of space. The shavings are biodegradable because the cedar comes from the tree and they degrade pretty quickly.
Yes it is possible to recycle and recover a pencil: you can collect eraser shavings and the wood shavings and create a craft with it.
There are no hazardous materials in a pencil.
The Beginnings of a Pencil
Cedar wood is grown in the US and then sent to China to be made into slats in a pencil making factory. Pencil graphite is a natural graphite and sent to a pencil making factory along with the slats of wood. The aluminum is shaped into a prong shape and added to the pencil in the factory
Preparation of a Pencil
The newly created pencil is packaged into a thin cardboard container and then put into a big cardboard box to be sent off around the world
Traveling the world
The aluminum is shaped into a prong shape and added to the pencil in the factory
Distribution of the Pencil
The pencils are distributed and shipped all around the world and put into stores like Target. Once they are in the stores, the pencils are stacked on the shelves to be sold
The Journey of a Pencil
The pencil is bought and used by people. There is kinetic energy used by using a pencil and the pencil shavings are generally thrown away
Once the pencil has been used up to a nub, it is thrown away in the trash and goes to the landfill but they are biodegradable because the pencil is made of wood.