Did you know that approximately 2.03 billion tonnes of solid waste is generated by the world today? On top of that, 33 percent of that does not go through proper waste management, which can lead to detrimental effects in the environment. All this is according to this article by the WorldBank. These numbers tell us that proper waste disposal is essential to maintain a healthy environment. So, continue reading below as we answer the question “how does waste management help the environment?”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, their study finds that Americans produce around 4.40 lbs. of solid waste per day. The number comes from a total of 5.91 lbs. of total waste generated per day it 1.51 lbs. of the total is recycled. Now, that is a huge number, especially when you multiply that to the millions of Americans living in the US.
Yes, disposing of trash makes our home cleaner, but when it arrives in a solid waste landfill, that is where things get harmful. Wastes in landfills are decomposing, and when they do, they release a harmful gas called methane. It is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane can worsen smog, which does not only have harmful effects on the environment, but also to humans as well.
According to a study by the UN, the constant decay of solid wastes adds about 5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So, this means that one major contributor of harmful greenhouse gasses comes from solid waste landfills. Speaking of, poor waste disposal management, such as poor disposal methods and non-existent collection services, also cause contamination in landfills. These improper waste disposal can also lead to both air and water contamination.
On top of that, unsanitary landfills can lead to the contamination of drinking water, which can lead to the transmission of infectious diseases. Clearly, we need proper waste disposal management to maintain a safe and healthy environment. So, how can we do that?
How we can Help the Environment
So, now that we know the numbers and facts, we must each grab a hand to help save the environment for a better future. That said, here are some of our recommendations on how you can start doing that.
Of course, at the very top is recycling, which is already quite obvious, but it is the most important of all. Recycling helps in minimizing the total waste generated, which can lessen the chances of what we discussed previously.
Now according to the EPA, 75 percent of the total waste stream of Americans are recyclable. However, citizens only recycle about 30 percent of their waste streams. And, when it comes to plastics, 91 percent of plastic wastes are not recycled. Now these are alarming numbers, and we should respond accordingly.
With all this said, recycling should be a priority especially for recyclable materials, such as paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. This method also minimizes your carbon footprint. And it also lessens the demand to manufacture products from scratch.
This method is perhaps one of the oldest in the book. What you need to do is grab your kitchen waste and stack them in a compost pile. This allows for decomposing to occur naturally, and the result is you now have a natural soil conditioner for your garden or your plants. According to the EPA, composting keeps these wastes from landfills, which can help minimize the release of methane. Composting is an easy method and can be done in all homes.
Segregating Hazardous Waste
Hazardous wastes, when improperly disposed of, can have a potential health and safety risk for both humans and the environment. Such wastes include batteries, pharmaceuticals, petrol, kerosene, etc., must be disposed of properly. Failure to do so can cause water, air, and soil pollution, which can lead to detrimental effects on the environment.
Producing Energy from Waste
Just like in recycling, this is much like it, but instead of the waste having a secondary tangible use, this method converts it into reusable energy. This method of green waste disposal has been around for a while and suggests that you must take the parts that are recyclable, and the remaining waste can be used to generate energy.
Improper waste management disposal can cause adverse effects towards the environment. It can also become a cause of widespread diseases. That is why it is vital that we observe proper waste disposal, so that the environment will not take a huge blow. However, doing such a thing is easier said than done.
With that said, though, with the proper information, we believe that it can be achieved. Even the smallest most obvious method – recycling, can already make a huge impact for the good of our environment. So, let us all do our part for the betterment of our environment and for our future.
Lillian Connors is a Senior Content Developer at ACT-ENVIRO, with years of experience in developing content.
Throughout her career, she always looked for ways to contribute to the environment in recycling efforts, while providing valuable information with her written articles.
She’s deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainability not only makes us far less dependent on others regarding how we live and do business but also contributes to our planet being a better place to live on. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book and sip on an occasional appletini.