Once our bins are out for rubbish collection, most of us immediately stop thinking about our waste. We don’t consider where the waste is going, how it’s going to be processed and how it’s going to affect our environment.
However, if we want to combat climate change and other environmental issues, we need to start paying attention to how we manage waste. We need to consider the various waste disposal methods and their implications on our environment. This goes for businesses, but it’s also relevant to Australian households.
To help you improve your waste management knowledge, here are four common waste disposal methods. We’ll go over how these methods are carried out and discuss the pros and cons of each one.
Recycling is arguably the best waste ‘disposal’ method on this list. It involves either directly reusing a product or breaking down a product into its raw form in order to be used again.
This method is good for the environment as it reduces the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills. In addition, when you recycle an item, you’re effectively reducing the consumer demand for newly manufactured products. Of course, lower demand then leads to lower manufacturing numbers. This, in turn, reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses that factories emit.
That being said, recycling does have its downsides. For example, if you’re looking to recycle glass or plastic, it’s probably going to cost you quite a bit. In fact, for this reason, some state and city governments in the United States choose not to recycle certain materials.
Due to the increase in our overall waste production, some councils in Australia are beginning to run out of space for landfills.
The scarcity of space has made incineration an attractive option for waste. It involves taking combustible waste and burning them either via a furnace or an incineration plant. The upside to this method is that it doesn’t require too much space. In addition, the heat generated by the process can also be used to produce electricity or steam.
The obvious downside to this method is that it produces toxic emissions. Incineration typically emits mercury, furan and dioxins. These pollutants can cause damage to the human respiratory and reproductive systems.
- Biological reprocessing
When it comes to organic waste, biological reprocessing is arguably the best method of disposal. This is when the organic waste is mixed into the soil so that microorganisms can break it down. Food, paper, timber and lawn clippings can all be used for composting.
Once these items break down, they will release nutrients into the soil, which in turn, acts as natural fertiliser for growing plants.
One of the biggest downsides of composting is that it requires a lot of time and effort. Besides choosing the right materials to compost, you also need to make sure the soil is aerated and properly hydrated.
- Animal feed
Animals like rabbits and pigs will feed on all kinds of food waste. Because of this, turning your food leftovers into animal feed is a great way to reduce the amount of food waste that you produce.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you or someone you know has livestock, you need to make sure that the feed is appropriate for the animals’ diet. If you don’t provide the right type of animal feed, it could affect the animals’ welfare as well as the quality of the milk, eggs and meat that they produce.
As you can see, there’s more to waste management than just throwing our rubbish into the same bin and dumping it in a landfill somewhere. Our waste needs to be properly managed so that we can reuse and repurpose certain materials. This will reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our oceans and reduces the demand for new products.