As the world’s population continues to grow, we need to learn more about waste management. Garbage disposal is now a persistent global problem, and now more than ever, it’s time to take it seriously!
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In this article:
- How Much Waste Do We Produce Each Day?
- Landfill and Incineration as Waste Treatment Processes
- How to Manage Waste
- How to Sort Your Waste
How to Properly Execute Waste Management
How Much Waste Do We Produce Each Day?
There is a lot of hazardous waste in existence today. Did you know the average person produces 4.3 pounds of waste per day? No?
Now, imagine how many solid wastes are produced if there are 7,688,686,950 people who live on this Earth. It’s time to take out the trash and apply proper solid waste management.
Landfill and Incineration as Waste Treatment Processes
Here’s what we know:
The most common waste treatment processes are the use of landfills and incineration. Incineration involves the combustion of organic waste or substances contained in waste materials.
Incineration and other waste treatment systems that use high temperatures are considered a “thermal treatment.” Incineration of waste materials transforms waste into heat, flue gas, and ash.
This waste disposal is popular due to its ability to drastically decrease the amount of space required to store/house waste materials. However, when all the waste is set ablaze, it releases high quantities of carbon gas into the atmosphere. Carbon is one of the key global warming gasses.
Read more about incineration and its regulation.
Landfills are another waste treatment process used to store/breakdown domestic and some industrial waste and hazardous materials. Through this practice, waste is stored in a trench and soil is tossed over the infectious waste regularly.
As the waste materials sit in the landfill, the probability of the landfill triggering environmental harm increases. For example, landfills can contaminate nearby groundwater resources and produce an abundance of methane gas.
Methane Definition: A flammable, colorless, and odorless gas utilized in the chemical industry, like producing methanol and hydrogen.
What many people don’t know is that methane is over 20 times more detrimental to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Landfill gases play a hand in the climate change problems we are currently facing.
Read more about what goes into landfills and their regulation.
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How to Manage Waste
Now that we know how much waste we produce and how our waste is managed, let’s start thinking about what role we play in this process.
We produce hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste at home, so we should be responsible for it. Right? Right!
It’s very easy to get stuck in the mindset that once we throw something away, it’s gone. To put this into perspective, Anne Krieghoff, who is the manager of solid waste and recycling at the University of California, Irvine shares this, “there is no away.”
The plastic bottle we just dropped into the trash may have left us, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. We tend to think – out of sight, out of mind. But, someone else somewhere else is dealing with our waste as we speak.
One way for us to manage our waste and our impact on the environment is to divert waste materials from landfills and the process of incineration. We can easily do this by identifying the effects of certain waste materials based on their composition.
We can also evaluate its potential to be recycled and reused. Then, it’s just a matter of placing our waste materials in the right bin.
That’s it! Waste management and proper waste disposal are really simple.
Take a moment to think about the amount of waste you produce in just one day. Say you buy a cup of joe and a pastry from your local coffee shop.
Just from this one purchase, you are looking at the paper cup, the cardboard sleeve, the plastic lid, the packaging of the sugar packets, the wooden stick you used to stir in your sugar, and last but not least, whatever packaging used to keep your pastry fresh. Also, let’s not forget that you might not finish all of your drink or food.
Think about all the waste you just produced – that’s just from one meal. Now you’re asking, “How do I know what goes where?”
It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you start recycling and picking up the rules, you’ll sort your trash with ease in no time.
How to Sort Your Waste
Here are some quick rules to consider when tossing out your yard waste or trash and recycling them:
- recycle any paper product
- recycle plastic containers
- recycle any foil or metals
- compost anything that was once “organic” (a living thing at one point in time, i.e. greens, bones, and paper)
- recycle any glass (recycling containers)
With these rules, how should you sort this waste? For example, we have the following:
- 1 cup
- 1 lid
- 2 sugar packets
- 1 stir stick
- half a scone
- ¼ cup of coffee
That’s right – out of all those things, nothing went to a landfill. You can divert them all to trash recycling or composting.
If all of us start taking responsibility for our environmental violations and non-hazardous and hazardous waste management, we can divert so much waste from landfills and incineration. Let’s make zero waste a reality, together!
Stay tuned for more info, especially if you want to learn about composting and how you can start today. Visit this link for a more in-depth list of recyclable materials.
What other ways to manage waste can you share with us? Let us know in the comments section.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 15, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.