As you read this article, you will learn about the massive amount of trash produced annually. You will also learn about the importance of recycling beverages and food packaging, and how many plastic bags we throw away each year. Fortunately, there are solutions and here are 5 facts we need to know about rubbish to save our race:
United States single handedly produces 390 million tonnes of rubbish each Year
Researchers estimate that the amount of rubbish produced every year will increase by nearly half by 2100. They use historical data and population growth trends to forecast future trash production. These estimates do not account for global warming or changing social norms, which can significantly affect the amount of trash produced. If current trends are to be followed, per capita garbage production will peak after the year 2100
The United States produces approximately 390 million tonnes of rubbish each year – or a little over 3kg per person per day. This is equivalent to 66000 Airbus A380 planes, a staggering 86 million Brisbane removalist trucks, or astonishingly equating 19.5 million times the amount of cars on Australian roads. This is the amount of rubbish removal that is often sent to a landfill, which is a hole in the ground lined with a man-made liner. This waste is buried to cause methane emissions, a greenhouse gas produced by anaerobic bacteria. Landfills are often capped to prevent water from seeping in.
Recycling PET bottles saves energy
Recycling the packaging of our favourite beverages is a great way to help protect the environment. It not only saves the world from the pollution produced by chemicals, but also reduces the amount of trash in landfills. Furthermore, it creates jobs for the people who collect the recyclables and work in recycling facilities. As a result, it is becoming more important to recycle all of our beverage packaging.
Many beverage manufacturers are making the switch to paper bottles and other sustainable alternatives. For example, the recycling of PET bottles helps save energy because they use 95 percent less energy than virgin bauxite ore. Recycling glass also helps extend the life of glass furnaces. In addition, beverage companies should encourage consumers to recycle their empty containers. If they’re on the go, they should keep their empty bottles in the car until they can drop them off at the recycling facility. Plastic bottles also can find their way back into rivers and streams and ultimately into the oceans. Leaving a litter of destruction behind flowing into habitats of sea animals which then are affected by harmful chemicals and odours released by these plastics.
40% of food produced in the USA goes uneaten
Our planet is suffering from a massive food waste crisis. Unused food makes up one-third of all landfills. Food is also wasted in numerous ways: by not being eaten, it is discarded, stored in garbage, or sent to landfills. Food waste contributes to climate change and threatens countless species. It also harms wildlife, with food cans and food bags being attracted to bears and other pests.
Currently, approximately 40% of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten. This waste contributes to millions of tons of greenhouse gases every year. It is also one of the leading causes of trash in landfills. Unused food produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. According to a report by nonprofit organization ReFED, food waste has increased by 300 percent in the past 50 years and is predicted to double by mid-century.
Throwaway plastic bags take 400 years to degrade
The Environmental Protection Agency reports Americans generated 35.7 million tonnes of plastic in the United States. This represents more than 137 kilograms of waste per person each year. Plastics are made from fossil fuels in an energy-intensive process. When disposed of, they emit greenhouse gases and produce hazardous chemicals. As a result, they clog landfills and waterways and cause flooding. They also kill wildlife. As a result, we should consider our actions to avoid these plastic wastes and try to reduce their impact on our environment.
It is shocking to know that mass production of plastics just began in the last decade and most of it tends to be disposable plastic that ends up in landfills. Ultimately, throwaway plastic bags are a big problem for our race as plastics take over 400 years to degrade and only 12% of overall plastic is incinerated each year, which still leaves behind traces of plastic. According to an article by National Geographic Society, in 2018 shockingly, 91 percent of plastics were not recycled at all.
Bangladesh was first to mass ban plastic bags
Bangladesh was the first to mass ban plastic bags, with many other countries who have since followed suit including China, Taiwan, Rwanda, Kenya however, many western countries are still struggling to follow suit due to the convenience of these products.
What’s the Solution?
Knowing what we know, managing plastic has become so large of an issue that it needs a call for a unified global approach. Ultimately, we need to rethink the way we use plastic and the products that contain plastic, if at all possible to re-engineer plastic chemistry so it is not as harmful and more biodegradable.
Choose to support non plastic products.
Educating the public to refrain from their choice to support the use of plastic products. Ultimately it is the consumer that ends up with the plastic and needs to discard it. If we educate enough people to say plastic IS NOT OK. Then ultimately it can create a movement large enough to refrain from the use of single use plastics. This will eventually lower the demand for plastics and lower the production of plastics.
Sort out your plastics
We have come a long way in providing efficient recycling technology and plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate and high-density polyethylene to produce the more common soft drink and water bottles are easily recyclable. Sorting it out with your local council bins or local council recycling strategy will help recycling rates 10-fold if properly sorted
Compost your leftovers
Food is easily compostable and degrades naturally leaving behind valuable nutrients back to the earth. It is when good is discarded in general waste and ends up in landfill that is the problem.
Opt for reusable/biodegradable bags when going shopping
Having a mass ban on single use plastics is a start, getting in the habit of using a reusable/biodegradable bag over time will hundreds of millions of people opting for the same will make a huge impact on the number of plastic bags produced each year and that will end up in our oceans.
Doing nothing, will lead to a further crisis to unfold in the next century. Eventually leading to the collapse and over filling of landfills and further exacerbating the climate change problem and global warming to a point of no return. We need to transition our world into a circular economy. One that is sustainable and minimizes waste. We need to seek alternatives such as re-useable grocery bags and support only recyclable packaged products that can be sustainably recycled and reused. Ask ourselves the question, are we able to give up a bit of plastic for the sake of a cleaner environment?