We consume goods daily so we also produce wastes every day. However, that is not an excuse to leave it to the garbage collectors to deal with the environmental problems. We are part of this Earth, too. As citizens, we can be responsible with our wastes.
Firstly, we can practice the 5Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, Recover). This can be done by carrying reusable bags and containers when shopping or traveling, purchasing items made with recycled content, and picking products that are returnable, reusable, or refillable.
Another way to help garbage collectors is by separating our wastes. Thus, we need to be aware of the types of waste collection. Waste collection is divided into three categories: food and garden waste, mixed dry recycling, and non-recyclable waste. Food waste involves all cooked and uncooked food whereas garden waste refers to grass, hedge, and shrub cuttings. Mixed dry recycling includes cans, cardboard, paper, glass, and plastic. Non-recyclable waste consists of pet waste, disposable napkins, polystyrene packaging, textiles, etc.
In a year, we throw away 2.12 billion tons of waste. Some of it is recycled, but most are dumped that cause irritation and trouble to people and the environment. Hence, there are places on Earth that cannot keep up with the waste products, particularly those that are densely populated countries and developing nations. This is due to urban expansion and rapid industrialization. The citizens need to tolerate the irksome sight and foul smell of the garbage that they caused themselves. Unless someone takes a stand and encourages change, nothing will change.
“We are drowning in our excreta,” stated Director of the non-governmental Centre for Science and Environment Sunita Narain. In Mumbai, the amount of waste might reach 165 million metric tons in less than fifteen years. Because of this, India is gradually turning into the greatest rubbish dump in the world since the waste production is projected to be five times more in thirty years.
In fact, last September 1, 2017, the landfill of the Ghazipur dump yard, that has been piled up for more than ten years, killed two people. Aside from that, there are more junkyards in Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata that are going beyond their capacity to keep all the garbage in one place.
14. United States
Though the United States of America (USA) is a world power, it still faces the problem of waste reduction. In a year, more than 200 million tons of garbage is produced in the USA. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an American disposes of 4.4 pounds of trash every day. The collective waste leads to more than 2,000 landfills that share an alternative purpose – to generate electricity.
Some of the biggest landfills in the United States are Pine Tree Acres, Columbia Ridge Landfill, Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site, Roosevelt Regional Landfill, Newton County Landfill, and Apex Waste Center. These landfills collect at least 8,000 tons of garbage daily, which includes methane that is a source of greenhouse gas pollution.
Russia generates more than 60 million tons of waste each year. In the capital city, Moscow alone, more than 13 million tons of a variety of waste are collected in a year with more than 5 million tons from water preparation and sewage treatment. Because of this, the government decided to establish a separate garbage industry to eradicate overflowing landfills.
According to Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, Mr. Sergey Donskoy, the disproportion between the waste production and disposal, which is a threat to humanity, stimulated the proposal. They did not want Russia to become a huge landfill. It might have imposed an additional tax on the residents, but this is also for their health and safety.
Haiti experienced the worst garbage problem in 2012 with each person contributing 1.5 pounds of waste per day. This led to the ban of imported plastic products that jammed drains and canals and clogged streets. Hence, when there was a heavy rain, flooding became an issue. It made the residents susceptible to diseases and health issues because mosquitos also spread illnesses. The waste also gave off methane gas that can damage the lungs, heart, and brain. Aside from that, the garbage problem ruined the country’s economy and decreased the number of tourists in the area. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expects that the garbage problem in Haiti, if not solved at once, might double in the next 20 years.
The Philippines creates nearly 30,000 tons of garbage every day, but the figures are expected to grow twice as much in less than ten years because of the increase in urban population.
In 2025, more than 2.2 billion tons of trash are projected to be produced. To attempt to solve this disturbing problem, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo approved the Solid Waste Management Act. However, even with its implementation, nothing has improved in the metropolis because of the negligence and noncompliance of residents that go as far as throwing garbage in the ocean. In 2010, volunteers found more than a million pound of waste or trash in the ocean.
As stated by the World Economic Forum, each resident from Kenya creates 1.42 kg of municipal solid waste every day. In Kampala and Dar es Salaam, the city government’s solid waste department is not equipped to dispose of their garbage properly. They are not ready to handle the responsibility because of insufficient funds. Transport vehicles for the waste are provided by the government, but these automobiles are few and unsuccessfully maintained. The improper waste disposal leads to health risks for people living near the dumpsite. The residents are now prone to diseases because of the burning of plastics that produces toxins.
Italians produce over 800,000 tons of waste per year. Their first garbage crisis began in 2008, specifically in Naples, but it was solved by waste commissioner Guido Bertolaso. Even with the protest of the residents, he dealt with their garbage problem and opened new landfill sites and an incinerator. The problem was solved one to two months later, yet the problem also rose in Rome, wherein it was tougher to handle.
Naples had the same problem again a few years later with a greater impact on the residents. Due to the disposal of toxic waste, the rate of cancer patients rose as well as the mortality rate in the area.
China is the most populated country in the world. Hence, it is no surprise that it creates more than 500,000 tons of waste each day, yet the fact that it deals with garbage problems proves that even if it has a rising economy, the government does not focus much on waste management. Though, they are trying by possessing an incinerator in 2016 with goals to protect the environment and make the most out of what they have. From burning garbage, they generate electricity for more than 100,000 homes. These incinerators are also funded by the government with a budget of 10 dollars per ton, but they try to convince private companies to do so with less than 10 dollars because it is ensured to be cleaner.
Indonesia generates around 64 million tons of garbage every year from 175,000 tons of waste every day. The garbage problem arose when some landfills became jam-packed and other landfills are beginning to be so. Even with the solid waste management law in 2008 that promotes reducing waste, reusing belongings, and recycling, nothing much has changed in the country with its enactment. Because of this, the government plans to promote the concept of recycling that will give the residents no choice to accept the idea. The idea will benefit both the government and residents since residents will be paid to recycle, reducing the waste problem of the council.
Egypt produces an estimate of 89 million tons of solid waste each year. However, because of poor maintenance and a shortage of resources to boost and improve collection and treatment equipment, it has become a challenge to dispose of all the garbage in the vicinity, according to the Ministry of Environment. The GDP of Egypt is also affected because it loses 0.4 – 0.6 percent because of the inefficient solid-waste policies.
There are private companies that tried to help by beginning their own landfills, but not all waste is recycled. The lack of awareness leads to the dumping of garbage into the rivers, canals, and streets that affects the environment and its residents.
In Mexico, almost one kilogram of garbage is created daily. It has grown into over 100,000 tons of waste in a year. According to the National Statistics Institute, more than 16 million kilos of waste is produced in its capital alone, Mexico City.
To handle this problem, the council decided to convince the people to give recycling a try by offering them the opportunity to trade their collected waste and rubbish with vouchers that can buy food in the market. Nevertheless, the government is merely focusing on the waste collection in the metropolitan because Mexico City is where most wastes come from.
4. Sri Lanka
For more than a million households in Sri Lanka, the World Bank assesses that more than 23,000 tons of solid waste are generated every day. One resident complained that the garbage problem of the country has reached his doors, literally, especially when the rain pours heavily. It causes flooding in the area because the canals and streets are clogged. The waste also threatens their health, especially infants and children whose immune systems are weak, since mosquitoes multiply and spread diseases. Living near the dumpsite is also risky because the foundation of their houses weakens when large shipping containers are dropped on the ground.
In the capital city of Senegal, Dakar, 1,200 metric tons of garbage are created daily. Former President Abdoulaye Wade promised that any mayor who could not prioritize the cleanliness in his town will be removed from the position. This is because he believes that change should start in the small unit of society so that it will create ripples of change to others. They will also improve the standards of every dumpsite to ensure that it will be environment-friendly and people-friendly since the waste found in the vicinity is a threat to the environment and its people. Residents continue to complain about the health risks and possible diseases.
As stated by the Albanian Department of the Environment, around 300,000 tons of scrap metal and 20,000 tons of plastic came from Italy for them to process and dispose of. It equals the quantity of waste in the capital city of Albania, Tirana.
Sadly, there is an official dumping site in a harbor city called Durres. Thus, the waste management weakens as the residents throw their waste in fields. Though it is not the residents’ fault that they do not have an efficient waste collection, cooperation and common sense are still needed to lessen the waste problem in the country. Truly, burning garbage does not help in any way.
In a year, the solid municipal waste generated in Turkey equals to more than 28 million tons with 77% waste collection coverage rate while 69% waste disposal rate. The exposed landfills top the problems in waste management because garbage is left to decay. Its overall greenhouse gas emissions amplified to almost 100% as compared to nearly 20 years ago. If the inappropriate dumping of unsafe waste is not treated and solved, nature will be affected without a doubt. The recycling rates could not rise due to the low-budget, inadequate services, and enticements from the government. But, of course, none of this would matter if the residents do not join and cooperate.
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