We all know that waste production from households and industries has increased especially in recent years. It has led to excessive amounts of waste ending up in landfills and polluting the environment. Have you ever considered the impact of your mere trash bag on the ‘bigger picture’ and the environment?
Some waste facts
All living organisms inevitably produce waste every day and that is natural. What is not natural though is the pace that this is happening. In 2018, around 5.2 tonnes of waste were produced per EU inhabitant. Additionally, around 39% of waste were landfilled and 38% were recycled the same year in the EU. This is apparently not enough considering the pace at which we consume in our current society.
A report from the World Bank’s Urban Development department argues that, by 2025, waste will increase from 1.3 billion tonnes to 2.2 per year, being generated mostly by rapidly growing cities in developing countries. Another study shows that each of the developing countries produces around 10,000 tonnes of waste per day. Countries such as China, with over consumption habits, are estimated to add to the world’s 2,000-plus inventory of waste incinerators. If that continues, in 2100 the global urban population is expected to produce 3 times the waste that it produces as of today. What does that mean? That waste will exceed 11 million tonnes per day!
Of course the impact is not only physical but fiscal as well: Apart from the detrimental effects on the environment, the global cost of dealing with all of this waste is expected to rise to 375 billion dollars by 2025 with biggest costs in developing countries. That will increase the demand for more local spaces for landfills and incinerators. In 2017, 11.2 tonnes of waste ended up in landfills merely from the textile industry. OECD argues that the global amount of waste is growing faster than the world’s population.
What is ‘waste’ in a broader term?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Commission (EC) refer to waste with the broader term of Municipal Waste (MW). The term covers household waste and waste that is similar in composition and nature to household waste. MW includes various items that consumers throw away after their usage and include food, furniture, liquids, grass, soil and other natural waste, even large appliances and tyres or other car fixtures. MW does not include anything that can be landfilled at a local level, such as C&D waste (steel, asphalt etc.), wastewater sludge and other types of industrial trash. Operating services that are responsible for MW management require integrating systems that are efficient, sustainable and socially supported.
However, MW is not the only type of waste we should be aware of as societies and consumers.
The types of waste
There are 5 main types of waste every consumer should be aware of:
Liquid waste: It contains grease and oil, wash water mainly from households and industries, waste detergents and generally dirty water that is thrown away. It is usually poisonous for the environment. This type is separated into manufacturing waste that is also called point source and naturally occurring in the environment waste, that is called non-point source.
Solid waste: Is any waste, sludge and refuse found in industrial and commercial locations. Solid waste is from glass and ceramic, plastic and paper or metal materials.
Hazardous waste: Includes waste generated from flammable, corrosive, reactive and toxic materials. They are extremely potent to the environment. Some examples are: Paint products, gas, kerosene, pesticides etc.
Organic waste: In general terms refers to food and garden waste that is derived from households. They easily decompose due to microorganisms on them. Organic waste produces methane while decomposing, thus we need to be careful on where we dispose of it.
Recyclable waste: It is easy to recognise this type from the packaging of the product. All discarded items like metal, furniture, paper, plastic and organic waste that can be recycled fall into this category.
What can we do?
Keeping our environment clean is critical if we want a healthy living and we usually rarely consider what type of trash is in our bags due to our fast-paced and busy lives. Distinguishing the kind of waste we generate and throw away will assist in better knowledge upon recycling practices and also on further consideration of the life cycle of a product and our consumption habits. Contributing to a circular economy and making recycling part of our everyday life will lessen the waste that pollutes the air we breathe, the water, the soil and eventually the food we eat.
How does Kleiderly contribute?
At Kleiderly, we have made it our mission to reduce the amount of clothes that end up in landfills and incinerators. We want to give unwanted clothes and overproduction a new, sustainable life by turning them into clothing hangers. We solve two problems: Unwanted clothes and oil-based plastic use.