The world today is grappling with many problems, chief among them increasing waste and improper waste management/disposal. The problem is so widespread that countries the world over are doing everything they can to minimize their waste production and manage their disposal. And with increasing populations and projected spikes in waste production, their fear can be justified.
In a bid to gain the upper hand over this situation, many innovations and developments are taking place every day, with support from governments and leaders. The aim is to cut waste production to minimum levels and create alternatives to waste disposal that people can use. Alternatives such as recycling have already been accepted and put into use worldwide after being touted as good for the environment.
There are new developments in the fields of recycling and waste management taking shape every day. Some are still being tested and hold so much promise while others have been fully rolled out in cities as policies and control measures. Here are some of those you might have missed.
Recycling and waste management trends
Increased legal action
On issues concerning waste disposal, management and recycling, there is growing legislation and design of policies by cities and countries as a means of curbing the increasing evils of the situation. Regions are now requiring their residents to follow certain set guidelines in waste disposal or risk fines and jail time. Most cities are drawing ‘Zero Waste’ framework plans to effective minimise the problem in a few years.
In the past, waste from homes and other industry activities were disposed of in landfills in the exact form they were produced. With some of these having toxic compositions, the effect of this action on the environment and on humans was disastrous.
Today, and with widespread knowledge about the different classes of waste, there is better disposal and incorporation of techniques such as sorting wastes first before throwing away. The process of sorting has lately been improved, it can now be done with machines at recycling plants to separate paper from aluminium, glass etc.
In areas where planting of crops is a daily economic activity, techniques of better waste disposal such as compositing are being developed. Excess food and other organic materials are being placed in compost pits and transformed into fertiliser for large farms and gardens.
Anaerobic digestion is another facet of the compositing method. With research and developments in biological science, there is new knowledge of how to put anaerobic microorganisms to use in waste management and recycling so as to generate better products.
The biggest source of waste is people themselves. Cities and countries have realised that with ever increasing populations, there is a higher probability of increased waste production and as such, a bigger need to have effective waste control measures in place. City expansion is no longer being left to chance.
Ban on polythene and plastics, introduction of alternatives
It is now common knowledge that plastics and polythene take longer than most other waste types to biodegrade in soil if they are able to degrade at all. While they are used in almost every industry today, the effect they have on soil and water infiltration is negative and accounts for flooding in many areas of the world today.
In light of this discovery, policies against plastics and polythene are being drafted, with most dictating bans from production and importation. To cover the gap, alternatives such as biodegradable paper bags are being used instead.
Decentralised waste management methods
While it is a state duty to manage waste disposal and recycling, the net today has widened to involve homeowners, such that some waste management techniques are now being carried out in homes on a small scale.
Composting, for example, is now a requirement in some areas. Homeowners are required to turn the excess organic waste in their bins into compost heaps and use them for backyard gardening. Other policies including sorting, where homeowners are required to sort their waste before having it picked up.
Energy production from waste
This is the biggest trend gaining ground today. With most energy sources being more expensive and having a negative effect on the environment, people today are turning to any cheaper alternative they can find. And in the organic waste, they have found gold.
Incineration, gasification and anaerobic digestion are some of the new ways wastes are being transformed into energy with no harm to the environment. With incineration, newly designed incinerator models are being used to trap methane from decomposing waste and turning it into renewable energy.
Pre-planning to control waste amounts
As a way of managing waste, people today are carrying out prior planning to reduce the amount of waste generated per activity. A lot of waste comes from using more than the required amounts of raw materials in the making of products. With prior projection, there is less waste being generated already in industries such as restaurants.
Digitalisation of work, hence less paper
One of the most commonly recycled waste materials is paper. In the past, there was as much paper being manufactured as there was being recycled. With changing views on the effect of the latter, there is a growing movement from the use of paper for everyday office tasks to its digital, computer facilitated alternative, and many people are picking up.
Emails are taking over from postal letters, education is going online and businesses are choosing cloud storage solutions instead of paper archives, hence less use of paper. Recycling is now on a larger scale too.
Adopting some more upcoming trends
Waste management and recycling are not going anywhere anytime soon. Other trends that are growing include smart technologies such as 360 L recycling bins and 3 bin organics, bans on low-grade products, the creation of biodegradable plastics, an introduction of fees and levies on waste plus the creation of new eco-friendly product models designed to control fume emission.