Each year in the UK alone, 22.5 million tonnes of waste is thrown in rubbish bins or waste bins around the home and office. All this waste has to be managed and waste management is of vital importance to ensure we are not all knee-deep in rubbish.
Waste management is becoming increasingly more important as government’s across the globe are trying to reduce the impact of waste on the environment. But what happens to all that rubbish that ends up in our waste bins and wheelie bins?
There are only really three methods for disposing of waste that we throw into our rubbish bins:
And there are advantages and disadvantages in each method of waste management.
Landfills: land fills are either holes in the ground that are naturally forged such as canyons or ravines; holes forged by former industrial processes like mines or quarries; or just mounds where rubbish we place in our waste bins piles up.
Land fills are not necessarily detrimental to the environment. While they do create greenhouse gases such as methane, this is actually offering potential benefits as not only can the methane be captured to prevent it damaging the environment but also it can be used as a method of creating energy.
And while it is true that landfills can cause pollutants to enter the water table. Land fills can be covered over once used and the land can be converted into nature parks which can offset any damage the original land fill had on the environment.
Recycling: recycling is not just done at home by separating our rubbish by using a recycling bin. Much of what ends up in our conventional waste bin is now being recycled by waste management teams. And while recycling is obviously good for the environment, there are detrimental effects too. Some of our waste is exported abroad in vast quantities to be recycled but this can have harmful effects due to the carbon costs of transportation and the damage to local environment where the rubbish ends up, as often these are developing nations that have less stringent environmental rules.
Incineration: Incineration is perhaps the most environmentally unfriendly method of getting rid of the rubbish in our waste bins. Unfortunately, there are many nations that are forced to incinerate a lot of rubbish due to constraints in land space. The only alternative is to ship the rubbish abroad which is not only financially costly but also has environmental costs too.