The waste disposal industry holds immense significance on a global scale. It serves as a crucial countermeasure to the excessive waste generation of massive production industries that are quickly degrading the environment.
To understand the pivotal role of waste disposal, take a look at these worldwide statistics from The World Bank, which illustrate the effects of improper waste disposal:
- The world generates 2.01 billion tons of municipal solid waste annually
- Projections indicate a 70% increase in global waste production by 2050, reaching 3.4 billion metric tons
In this blog, we will discuss how improper waste disposal can harm the environment and how sustainable waste management practices are the solution to this global issue.
How Improper Waste Disposal Affects the Environment
When waste ends up on soil or other land, and people do not process it, it leads to land pollution. The waste doesn’t just stay there; it breaks down over time and seeps into the surrounding areas, becoming dangerous for humans and other living organisms.
The waste that is not disposed of or does not lead to landfills often ends up in the ocean or other water sources. Over time, it deteriorates within the sea, gradually polluting the water and affecting aquatic life. This leads to water contamination, rendering freshwater unfit for human use and turning any body of water into a hazardous environment.
Air Pollution & Climate Change
Air pollution is a significant global concern, and understanding the environmental impact of improper waste disposal on air quality is crucial. Certain types of air pollution contribute to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to substantial shifts in the Earth’s climate. Inadequate waste disposal practices cause excessive gases to enter the atmosphere. The breakdown of waste also emits gases such as methane, a major driver of global climate change.
Climate change has led to a gradual increase in the occurrence of extreme weather and natural disasters. The change in the climate has resulted in an apparent rise in disasters such as tornadoes, heat waves and floods. The prevalence of hurricanes has also become more common as a consequence of shifts in the climate.
Untreated waste serves as a breeding ground for serious illnesses. Various types of diseases can thrive in locations like landfills. Polluted water bodies can also harbour many dreadful diseases. These diseases have the potential to impact animals, plants, and humans alike.
The presence of pollutants in the air and water has devastating consequences for plants, as soil containing these pollutants can kill plants. Even in cases where soil lacks pollutants, rainfall can introduce toxic elements harmful to plants, resulting in their death.
Animal and Marine Death
Both terrestrial and aquatic creatures die because of waste. From marine turtles and fish dying due to plastic pollution in oceans to animals ingesting dangerous substances scattered in their habitats, the natural world experiences significant mortality due to this. This way, inappropriate waste disposal is also serving as a catalyst for the extinction of numerous species, causing harm to ecosystems worldwide.
Loss of Habitats
Every creature has a range of environments appropriate for its survival. This is why you find certain species exclusively in particular regions. However, waste significantly contributes to global climate change, altering the size of habitats suitable for animals to thrive. The reduction in habitat size forces species like polar bears toward extinction as they endeavour to migrate away from their diminishing habitats.
Aside from the influence of global climate change, waste generates various alterations in the world, even in the infrastructure. Plastics and other wastes in nearby water sources obstruct drainage systems and contaminate potable water supplies. Zones marred by land pollution become breeding grounds for pests like rats, which flourish in unclean environments.
Waste also has detrimental effects on infrastructure. Plastics and other waste in nearby bodies of water obstruct drainage systems and pollute potable water supplies. Furthermore, regions affected by land pollution become favourable to pests, which can degrade infrastructure through their normal behavior, such as chewing through wires or obstructing pipes with nests.
Radiation and Hazardous Materials
The potential risks associated with radioactive waste often go unnoticed. Improper waste management of these hazardous materials can result in radiation contamination near the waste site. Furthermore, if industries fail to manage their waste using specialised industrial disposal services, harmful substances can infiltrate surrounding environments, posing threats to people’s well-being.
What is Waste Management
Waste management involves the process of collecting, transporting, and treating different waste substances. It can also be described as the handling, overseeing, and monitoring of different waste materials.
It’s crucial to prioritise sustainability in this context to ensure efficient waste management, avoiding improper waste disposal in landfills.
Sustainable Waste Management Strategies to Prevent Dangers of Improper Waste Disposal
Here are some key strategies to prevent the dangers of improper waste disposal:
1. Cut Down Consumption
The first step to handling waste better is using less stuff. We can make way less trash by being thoughtful about what we buy and avoiding things we’ll use only once.
2. Support Recycling
Recycling is important to keep trash out of landfill sites. Separating things like paper, plastic, glass, and metal saves resources and reduces pollution.
3. Encourage Reusing
Think about using things again instead of throwing them away. Giving items a new purpose, fixing them, or donating them can stop us from always needing new things and generating more waste.
4. Make Compost
Food scraps and yard trimmings can become healthy soil for gardens. Composting helps us make less trash and prevents greenhouse gases from entering the air.
5. Throw Things Away the Right Way
Dangerous items like batteries, electronics, and chemicals need special ways of getting rid of. This makes sure our soil and water stay clean and safe.
6. Educate Everyone
If we show communities why it’s good to manage waste, we can all work together to make a positive impact. Events, info, tools, and waste management training can help people make smart choices.
Properly managing waste is not just a choice; it is an essential commitment we must make to preserve the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystems.
Improper waste disposal endangers the environment, affecting land, water, air, climate, wildlife, and human health. We can reduce the environmental burden by utilising sustainable waste management strategies such as embracing responsible consumption, recycling, reusing, composting, and educating the community.