While the global solid waste generation has not yet reached its peak, scientists say, it will reach it after the year 2100. The year 2100 is a long way to go but the projections of solid waste generation in that period is disconcerting. Experts say that the waste produced by 2100 will total to 10 million tons per day especially if we do not do anything to curb garbage generation as early as now. It can either increase or decrease depending on the government programs set in place for solving the solid waste problem. Recycling is by far the most sustainable activity that individuals can do to help ease the garbage problem according to experts. But why is garbage generation rising at such a fast pace?
Population Growth: The Culprit?
Population explosion has a number of consequences according to a study done by Yale. It further notes that population growth is higher in poorer nations. Population growth is an enormous problem for many countries poor or developed alike. But in terms of waste management, poorer countries do not cope well.
An individual generates approximately 1.2 kilograms of waste daily and multiplying that with a city or a country’s population can be unsettling. Based on the World Bank study done in 2012, developing countries are more prone to having waste management problems because of financial limitations. New Delhi, the capital of India, has now over 22 million residents. If one assumes the waste generation per capita at 1.2 kilograms per day multiplied by its 22 million residents, the numbers can be daunting. In other parts of the world, big urban centers have around 11 million residents making population explosion a serious problem to contend.
Is Recycling The Solution?
Recycling has become synonymous with sustainable development since the 90s and today, recycling is still the go-to solution when cities or municipalities want to solve their waste problem. There are however a number of individuals who say that recycling is only a good idea at first glance. According to those who do not advocate recycling of tin cans and aluminum cans, reprocessing the said materials use up more energy than producing new ones from raw materials. One must keep in mind though that the energy used for this activity is still a controversial issue in many groups. It is also interesting to point out that the use of new raw materials entails mining of resources thereby depleting our natural resources. Aside from depletion of natural resources, habitats being ruined or wiped out is also another byproduct of mining so this should also take into consideration.
Recycling Is One Way To Fight Climate Change
Climate change is a big issue and in many parts of the world, its presence is already felt. Germany, a relatively cold place to live in, experienced higher temperatures in the summer of 2013. It was a shocking occurrence for many that it made the news. Snow also came early for many parts of the United States on that same year –clear evidence that the world’s climate is changing, and it’s doing it in a drastic manner. In the Philippines, a coastal city was hit by typhoon Haiyan leaving thousands homeless and many dead. Haiyan is said to be the biggest storm that ever made landfall that news agencies around the world said that it was impossible to prepare for such a storm.
Climate change is caused by warming of the Earth’s atmosphere because of greenhouse gases. Methane, a type of gas produced by landfills, is one of these greenhouse gases. While methane is not the only culprit, the methane emissions of countries like the UK comprise 25 percent of their total emissions. According to experts, reducing the amount of garbage that reaches our landfills is a good way to lessen methane gas emissions. By recycling materials that can recycle, this can be done. These includes items such as tin cans, foil, aluminum cans, paper, and plastic. Experts add that better food storage will also lessen the amount of wasted food around the globe.
Changing Consumption Habits
Perhaps one of the most powerful ways to help the world in dealing with its garbage problem is by changing our consumption habits. While the idea of a consumerist society is good for the economy, individuals should keep in mind that the more trash they produce, the more difficult it will be to get rid of this trash. Processing of garbage is quite costly and countries that cannot afford environmentally friendly waste processing are being stuck with overflowing landfills.
Being responsible with what you buy is always a good idea. If a food item is in a bioplastic container, for example, then it is a better choice than buying one in a container that cannot be recycled.
The utopian scenario in this case is for everyone to reduce their garbage generation, but the main question that begs to be the answer is “Can we do it?”