From Litter to Life
As civilizations thrive and grow, so do their needs which adds to the development of the society. These factors are interdependent and affect the entirety of living organisms including plants, animals, marine life, etc. The use of various materials adds up to the waste generated daily. If not treated and managed correctly, the waste can be extremely harmful to living-organisms and also affect the atmosphere which can lead to excessive pollution.
Waste is generated through several everyday activities that take place in houses, industries, and other urban sectors. The unwanted material includes hazardous waste substances like explosives, radioactive materials, infectious elements, etc. that are generated by factories and hospitals.
The waste materials can be classified into two categories:
Biodegradable waste: Also known as wet garbage, such waste material is efficiently degraded by microbes. It includes kitchen waste, spoiled food, fruits, etc.
Non-biodegradable waste: Also called dry waste, these waste materials require a longer period of time to degrade which incur various techniques.
Other harmful wastes include sewage which threatens marine life. Every year, more than 200 million tonnes of human waste is let into the water and causes harm to fishes and corals. Despite building sewage systems, developed cities produce an overwhelming amount of waste that overflows the sewers and goes untreated.
Energy for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is used to generate energy at landfills in the United States. In 2017, about 268 million tonnes of garbage were generated in the USA.
MSW is burned at special waste-to-energy plants that use the heat from the fire to make steam that generates electricity. MSW is usually burned only for the production of electricity. Burning waste also reduces the amount of material that would probably be buried in landfills. The volume of waste can be reduced by using such methods.
MSW in India contains a higher amount of moisture and less calorific value. Usually, most of the wastes are sent to the environmental organizations, WTE (Wastewater Treatment plant Equipment).
Effective waste management
There are several ways to effectively turn waste into energy and also reuse materials.
Prevention: It is better to reduce consumption and avoid unnecessary emissions of gases and chemicals into the environment.
Using alternative Materials: for sustainable use of materials that are used in our daily lives such as plastic, we can switch to more environmental-friendly products that can be easily degraded or reused.
Recycling: A very common but overlooked method is recycling. Various societies and industries sort out garbage that makes it easier for collectors to segregate and recycle material accordingly.
Technologies invented: Various scientists and innovators have created technologies to minimize/diminish harmful waste. One of the notable inventions is that of the ‘super- enzyme’ that eats up the plastic in about less than 30 seconds!
It is important to address the concerning issue of waste at our personal places. People need to understand the importance and mechanisms of various methods and apply them strategically. It all begins with small-steps like changing our perception and building a sense of responsibility for the place we call our home- the Earth.