Pollution And Waste Management

Kenya’s fight against Plastic Pollution

Kenya has emerged as a leader in fighting against plastic pollution among African countries. It became the first country in East Africa to adhere to the limit of using single-use plastics and has even signed initiatives like ‘Clean Seas’ to prevent plastic litter from being dumped into marine and freshwater bodies.

Kenya’s efforts were reflected in their policymaking as they banned the use of plastic bottles, cups, and other plastic cutlery from its national parks and biosphere reserve.

Such efforts are really needed when the plastic menace is becoming one of the major problems for the earth. Not only limited use but control over the production of plastic is also required.

Concrete Solution needed for Solid Waste Management

In the plains of the capital, there lies a mountain peak of around 45-60 feet tall which is one of the biggest landfill sites in India. With 3000 thousand metric tons of garbage thrown in it every day, this trash mountain is predicted to grow taller than the iconic Taj Mahal. Is there an alternative way of managing this trash? Continue reading to know more about solid waste management techniques.

The process of collection and treatment of solid waste is known as solid waste management which is one of the parts of recycling. Items that can generally be reused are often thrown into the waste, which generates primarily two problems. The very first one is the production of carbon due to mismanagement of the waste, which further pollutes air and soil.

The second problem is the disruption of the economy due to the mismanagement of solid waste. To understand this phenomenon we need to first be aware of the ‘resource efficiency’ of earth.

The Earth has a limited number of natural resources and if they’re not used to their fullest potential, or not recycled, the resources get wasted. This causes the economy to use more resources than required, which is known as ‘resource inefficiency’. ‘Circular Economy’ provides new solutions to mitigate the above-mentioned problems.

Solid Waste Treatment

According to a report by NITI AAYOG, India produces 62 million tons of solid waste annually. This solid waste can be divided into three categories, Organic, Dry, and Biomedical.

About 50% of the waste is organic, meaning it is biodegradable and can be used to produce organic manure, however only 30-35% of the waste produced in India follows the management and treatment process.

Food Waste Is Lethal Than You Know

According to the UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021, India is the second biggest food waste generator after China, wasting around seven crore tons of food every year. When food waste is dumped into the landfill sites and as it starts to rot, it produces methane, a major greenhouse gas that is 26 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Estimates according to the United Nations suggest that 8-9% of total greenhouse emissions are associated with food waste.

FOA (Food And Agriculture Organization, UN) has seen a clear pattern around food wastage. Middle and higher income group countries are more likely to waste food at consumption levels, whereas developing countries are more likely to waste food due to a lack of proper nutrition infrastructure and food keeping techniques. With every food item we waste, we also waste the time, energy, water and labour required to produce it.

Time to E-rase your E-waste

Technology is supposed to solve all humankinds’ problems including dealing with climate change. But does it have no adverse effects on the environment? Let’s find out more about technology and its connection with the environment through E-Waste.

Electronic waste or e-waste consists of old, unwanted, faulty and obsolete electronics. These electronics can be home appliances like ovens, toasters, refrigerators, and communication devices like telephones, tablets and smartphones. Other examples are obsolete VCRs, computers, radio sets, fax machines, speakers and printers. As technology advances rapidly, perfectly running electronics become obsolete and are rendered waste. E-Waste is not just those electronics that do not work but also those that are replaced by their receptive new and fresh models, which are presented to the public by big brands every few months.

The challenge is to find a method to properly dispose of the electronic waste produced each day. While in working condition, these electronics are safe, however, unfortunately, most electronics contain toxic substances like Beryllium, Mercury, Cadmium, and Lead which can harm our soil, air, water and wildlife. Sometimes these toxic waste parts are dumped in a landfill and then they further reach the ground and to the groundwater. When exposed to heat, e-waste releases all the toxic elements it contains into the atmosphere, damaging the air very severely. There is also the problem of data breaches associated with e-waste. If not disposed of or recycled correctly, data theft is possible as sensitive data can be obtained through e-waste. Over time this has become a severe problem. Surprisingly, India only collected 3% of the total e-waste generated in 2018 according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report.

Mind the Spam!

You might be surprised to know that your unwanted, unread and spam emails too contribute to environmental degradation through carbon emissions.

This data is stored and backed up in data centres that run on electricity and if we delete our unwanted emails, we can directly reduce the load on these data centres. According to goodplanet.org, each mail accounts for 0.3 grams of CO2 and if all 3.9 billion email users (as of 2019) delete their ten unwanted emails from their inbox, it would reduce 39,035 metric tonnes of carbon emissions which is equivalent to carbon dioxide released from burning 19356 tonnes of coal.

Upcoming E-waste Management Park in Delhi!

The Delhi Government is planning to set up the country’s first e-waste management park in the city. The site will be used to boost e-waste management and eco-tourism as well.

At present New Delhi produces around two lakh tons of e-waste annually. The park, after its completion, will help the national capital in recycling and remanufacturing activities with the obtained e-waste.

Wasteland is now a sports complex

Japan, widely known for its innovative practices in recycling technologies, has continued this tradition by deciding to convert a waste landfill into a sports complex in its capital Tokyo.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government took this decision in order to beautify the town and reverse the degradation of ecosystems in the area. The dwindling tree, bird and animal population was a cause for concern and this decision can be useful in restoring the population of trees and animals.

Importance of waste management for environmental well-being

As our society progresses economically and socially, the waste produced would also increase. Most of our waste consists of organic, plastic and electronic wastes. Some of these waste products can be recycled and reused. Recycling and reusing are significant for providing new scope for livelihood and income as well.

Many products can be used as fashionable accessories. This idea is being tried and tested by Use Me Works, an organization working for women’s empowerment that aims to reduce wastage by reusing and recycling.

How to contribute to waste management?
Use Me Works’ is a group of women who support each other and aim to make a difference for a better life and a healthier planet. Use Me Works’ philosophy is not just about eco-friendly products but they work with women who are financially responsible for their families. You can buy recycled and eco-friendly laptop bags, new accessories, stationery and face masks from their website. They save and channel 200 kilograms of waste every month. For them, every waste product is truly valuable!

Recycling Process Germany

Recycling implies converting waste into a usable product and its significance is gaining momentum. Germany produces more than 400 million tons of waste but recycles 78% of its waste.
Further, government programs in Germany also provide monetary compensation to carry out responsible recycling. The ‘green dot’ on a product is an important signifier that implies that the product is recyclable.

Waste products in Germany are managed using colour tags and this way of managing waste, by dedicating different colour bins to different types of waste has proved to be quite efficient for them in the recycling process. There are six different colour bins dedicated to different types of waste. For example, yellow bins are for light-weight plastic and aluminium products, blue bins are for paper wastes and cardboards, white bins are for compost material like vegetable and food remains, brown and green bins are used for glass material and so on.

Potentially harmful waste products like batteries, bulbs and fluorescent tubes cannot be kept in a bin and are identified using special dots. Moreover, all electronic waste is dumped at a specific place called Wertstoffhof or ‘Recycling Centre’, which is found in various neighbourhoods across cities.

Citizens are expected to properly dispose of their wastes and the success of this recycling program has only been possible due to increased community responsibility and participation.