We have come a long way in efficiently dealing with waste, yet several key problems continue to hurt the planet at large. Most of us can claim to have read up on these waste management processes. However, being a waste management service provider in Melbourne for a long time it has come to our attention that despite our best efforts, the damage is being continued, only at a different rate.
The Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy publishes reports on the various aspects of waste management: collection, transportation, disposal, recycling and surveillance of waste.
We are familiar with these methods of waste management:
- Biological processing
- Energy conservation
Still we find ourselves living in a world filled with waste.
Renewable energy and recycling took us to newer heights, but the negative effects of improper waste management continue to plague us.
Catastrophic effects of improper waste management systems are observed in the following areas:
- Soil contamination
- Climate pollution
- Air contamination
- Water contamination
- Harm towards animal and marine life
- Human damage
1. Soil Contamination
Ideally, we would like our plastic, glass, metal and paper waste to end up at a recycling facility. It then returns to us as a renewable product.
We need to be watchful of how we process petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, pesticides, heavy metals and lead.
For example, here’s what happens when a plastic water bottle and a newspaper are incorrectly sent to a landfill, or left, at any other place, to be absorbed by the soil:
- Plastic water bottles eventually breakdown to release DEHA, DIETHYLHYDROXYLAMINE, a carcinogen which hurts our reproductive capabilities, causes liver dysfunction and weight loss issues.
- DEHA seeps into the surrounding areas of the soil & water bodies and harms the animal and plant life dependent on it.
- The ink from the paper is not organically reused by the earth. Instead, it contaminates this already worsened soil, furthering putting living organisms at grave risk.
2. Water Contamination
Source: All About Water Filters
Consider the average contents in the water which can land you in the ER.
It’s a lot and how could it not be? From sources ranging from dumps, landfills and other unofficial areas of waste collection (alleyways, open sewers etc.), the places where waste collects and strengthens leave us scratching our heads.
Things are made worse with rainfall which mixes to produce toxic liquid substances which seeps into the water streams and ends up in nearby water bodies. The neighborhood fountain, pond, lake or even drinking water taps are susceptible to the dangers of contamination.
The victims? All living organisms including US.
3. Climate Contamination
Harmful greenhouse gases from decomposing waste rises up into the atmosphere to trap heat. This adversely causes extreme weather reactions in the form of storms and typhoons. How else are we impacted? Well, we discussed temperature just now. What is also drastically impacted is the level of precipitation in the air. From acid rain to severe hail storms to global warming – everything is fair game at present.
This also spreads out into other areas with regards to sub divisions such as thermal and radioactive pollution.
Check out the November 2017 Global Climate Report on active pollution.
4. Air Contamination
The disposal of garbage in the appropriate manner is a life or death issue.
We need to be cautious of garbage and its disposal in the designated process. Therefore, bleach, oil or acid are discussed about so much for they require special attention. You should follow the procedures and leave the waste at the predetermined container.
Let’s talk about the ozone layer. A lot of it leaves us feeling hopeless for we feel unable to make necessary changes. We think we cannot consume any less. Even so, we can, at least, follow strict protocol over how it’s recycled.
On the occasions paper and plastic are burned at the landfill, causing landfill gas, the chemicals released accumulate and contribute to the ozone layer and also hurt the surrounding human population. Methane gas adds to it as well. Besides, with chemicals such as dioxin out there, the air has been proven to have harmful effects on us.
All of it, and especially when improper waste management is concerned, play a significant role in causing global warming.
5. Harm Towards Animal and Marine Life
Despite strict measures to stop it, we keep seeing the continual dumping of garbage, raw or untreated sewage.
Any animal or marine life coming in contact gets impacted in the worst of ways. The inevitable formation of algal bloom and clusters contaminates and eventually suffocates marine life such as coral and fish.
As discussed comprehensively by Conservation International, we have seen how consumption of fishing lines, cigarette butts, plastic bottles and Styrofoam can kill millions of marine lives each year.
Furthermore, it is a vicious cycle which feeds itself:
- Waste is dumped into the ground
- Absorbed by the soil and ground water
- Waste contaminates the ground on which we grow food and provides water for us and animals
- Waste in the marine life kills fish
- Carcasses float on the surface and we see mosquitoes feed on it
- The diseases carrying mosquitoes now spread sickness and death among the living population
6. Human Damage
Consider the majority of the human population where we do not see any scientific waste management system. Such places may possess a system but there is no disposal area to be found.
Those who are at great risk are:
- Children and those who live near such facilities
- Waste disposal workers
- Employees whose workplaces manufacture or come in contact with waste materials
Think about the fires at landfills and its effects on us. Whether coming from the air or its accumulation in our cellars, those landfill gases have been exposed for causing cancer, create respiratory & visibility problems and the explosion of cans put people nearby at constant risk.
Additionally, when we come in contact with waste, it causes skin irritation and blood infections. We also contract diseases from flies which are carriers of illnesses after breeding on solid waste. With regards to mosquitoes, we know, besides feeding on dead fish, they find sewage, rainwater, tires, cans and other objects to be ideal breeding grounds. They carry and spread diseases such as malaria and dengue.
With an abundance of disease-carrying pests, it becomes difficult to be vigilant about waste management facilities. Despite all efforts, for example, rats continue their massive infestation on such facilities and sewage systems. They harm crops, spread diseases such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Leptospirosis, Rat-bite Fever and Salmonellosis.
Waste management is our responsibility for we benefit and suffer from it in radical ways. Education and awareness across all communities, irrespective of their social economic condition, must be ever-present for as long as life inhabits this planet. A butterfly fluttering its wings 900 miles away from you can cause a hurricane right where you live.
Therefore, significant mismanagement of waste by Turkey and Chile, where only 1% of waste was reported to be recycled, can contribute to global warming. Even if you live far away in Greenland, there is no escape. We must all play a role.
Such values have been expressed by the Talloires Declaration which is:
“The first official statement made by university presidents, chancellors, and rectors of a commitment to environmental sustainability in higher education. The Talloires Declaration (TD) is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities.”
For more information about waste disposal and waste management, speak to the team at Metropolitan Transfer Station, a waste transfer station near you in Melbourne today.
Waste Management is devoted to the presentation and discussion of information on solid waste generation, characterization, minimization, collection, separation, treatment and disposal, as well as manuscripts that address waste management policy, education, and economic and environmental assessments....Read more
Waste Management is devoted to the presentation and discussion of information on solid waste generation, characterization, minimization, collection, separation, treatment and disposal, as well as manuscripts that address waste management policy, education, and economic and environmental assessments. The journal addresses various types of solid wastes including municipal (e.g., residential, institutional, commercial), agricultural and special (e.g. construction and demolition, household hazardous, sewage sludge, and non-hazardous industrial) wastes.
We welcome both fundamental and applied research that can be related to problems of interest to solid waste researchers, practitioners and/or policy makers. Well documented case studies will be considered but they must describe results that can be applied beyond the specific location of the case study. Manuscripts that focus on the use of a waste material in a new product are often more suitable for a journal that focuses on the material properties of the product. In considering whether a manuscript is suitable for publication in Waste Management, consider whether the information is of potential use to solid waste researchers, practitioners and/or policymakers.
The following are some of the major areas in which papers are solicited:
• Generation and characterization
• Recycling and reuse
• Storage, collection, transport, and transfer
• Treatment (mechanical, biological, chemical, thermal, other)
• Landfill disposal
• Environmental assessments
• Economic analysis
• Policy and regulations
• Education and training