Overpopulation and overconsumption naturally result in tremendous amounts of waste, which our planet cannot handle sustainably. Electronic waste, hazardous waste, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), plastics are often disposed of in a non-ecological way and contaminate soil, atmosphere, and water causing damage to ecosystems and human welfare. Wise consumption, waste management, and innovative recycling techniques may rescue the planet from garbage catastrophe.
The population growth, urbanization, and overconsumption naturally result in the generation of so much trash that it has become impossible to deal with in a sustainable way. With such growth rates, the world’s cities are expected to produce over three times more waste in 2025 in comparison to 2009. Large amounts of waste generated impacts negatively climate changes, wildlife, the natural environment, and health. Lots of waste filling oceans and soil are not biodegradable and non-recyclable. Reducing amounts of consumption and trash, using sustainable materials, recycling measurements, and proper garbage removal matter for large enterprises and businesses as well as simple households and individuals. The number of conscious people and activists is growing all over the world as the importance of solving the waste issue and its effects become more obvious.
Let us turn to some figures showing the importance of addressing the trash issues:
according to the World Bank, 2.01 billion metric tonnes of municipal solid waste was produced globally in 2016. The increase expected in 2050 is 3.4 billion metric tons;
recyclable waste amounts only about 16% of the total waste in low-income countries and about 50% in high-income countries;
only about 9% of total plastic waste is recycled;
calculating waste in trucks weighing 23 metric tons, with current garbage growth rates in 2050 the global waste is expected to be 147,826,087 trucks daily.
The negative effects of poor waste management:
Soil contamination. Hazardous elements and chemicals are often buried and spilled in soil. For example, plastic bottles release a carcinogen Diethylhydroxylamine (DEHA) after breakdown causing harm to animals, plants, and water. Separating garbage and bringing plastic to the recycling facility is the choice available for every household.
Air contamination. Despite the idea that air quality is something an ordinary person cannot control, we can influence it by disposing of garbage properly and stop burning waste avoiding the risk of diffusing harmful elements in the air. Of course, a lot of air contamination is caused by non-ecological manufacturers, which the progressive governments take under control.
Water contamination. Toxic wastes penetrate the groundwater eventually ending up in nearby water bodies. Later such water will remain in ponds, lakes, rivers, will be used for watering the fields and drinking. Contaminated water is harmful to fish, all living organisms, and humans.
Bacteria and vermin. Stagnant garbage is a perfect ground for bacteria and insects, which may later appear on the plate or other items people contact with. This may lead to salmonella, food poisoning, gastroenteritis, and other types of illnesses. Rats living in sewage also spread illnesses like leptospirosis. Waste moisture is creating mold with the bacteria.
Negative effect on the local economy. Poor city waste management is not only unpleasant for the people who live in it, dirty places with low hygiene standards are unattractive to the tourists and investors, which reflects on their economic growth.
Solving the waste problems should be handled on different levels starting from the individuals and businesses up to governments and international organizations. The actuality of the trash problem and recycling is creating a background for many startups and innovative projects solving the issue to appear.
The successful global plastic recycling startups:
ReNew ELP - converting plastics into high-grade chemicals and oils,
Loop Industries - separating DMT and MEG from plastic waste,
Brightmark Energy - converting plastic waste into reusable plastic and fuel,
PURA Loop - solutions for industrial sludge and mixed plastics,
Newtecpoly - recycling various types of plastics.