You throw your garbage in the trash, and it gets hauled away — but, do you ever think about where it’s going? To local landfills. Do you ever question what will happen when the landfills are overfilled with waste? Do you ever think about how landfills impact our environment?
It’s time to start rethinking how we use materials and what we can to help reduce waste and stop the overload of landfills in our country. While cities have begun coming up with waste management plans, there are also things you can do to help reduce trash.
A lot of people already have, and they’ve been coming up with a solution to the responsible management of landfills for the future. Cities across the country are putting into effect plans for this year and beyond.
One proposed method of managing garbage in landfills is anaerobic digestion. This is the process that breaks down organic materials into microorganisms. Not all materials are broken down in this way, just organic matter, such as:
- Fats, oil, and grease
- Food scraps
- Animal manure
- Sewage sludge
- Industrial organic residuals
During the anaerobic digestion process, biogas is created, which is mainly methane and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide can be removed, leaving behind only methane. This creates a renewable energy source with a number of uses:
- Produce mechanical power
- Power engines
- Create alternate fuel for vehicles
- Run to homes through natural pipelines
The biggest variable affecting biogas project costs is fuel quality. The amount of biogas made from an organic source depends greatly on the waste itself and the digester system used. Since there is little to no control over the waste quality and the amount of gas produced, it’s tough to predict costs.
Sustainable Material Management
Sustainable material management means reusing materials more productively over their entire lifecycles. It requires you and others to think differently about our environment and use of materials. Look at materials differently and consider their entire lifecycle to find ways to reduce environmental impacts, reduce costs, conserve energy and keep items out of landfills.
Some things for individuals and companies to think about include:
- Conserving materials to lessen impact on environment and climate
- Reducing food loss and waste
- Creating sustainable packaging
You don’t want products to end up in the landfill, so sustainable material management requires finding other ways to reuse products. Throwing items out becomes a last resort. It is preferred that you first reuse materials if you can, and recycle or compost items when possible.
Recycling is part of sustainable material management. This includes recycling paper to reduce the cutting of trees and recycling cans to reduce aluminum mining. Products like glass can be recycled more than once.
Recycling sends less waste to landfills and helps prevent depletion of natural resources. You and those in your community have several ways to get involved in recycling.
Source reduction goes beyond recycling to finding new ways to use unwanted items and materials. You can do so much more than just separating trash into various recycling bins.
- Have yard sales or donate items you no longer need
- Buy reusable cleaning products, like mops and sponges
- Compost food waste at home
- Donate old electronics
- Email hard copies of documents instead of printing them out
- Use paper clips instead staples
- Pay your bills online or in person instead of mailing checks
This may seem not seem important, but these actions do add up. You can do so many little things that lead to source reduction.
Landfills have more of a negative effect on the environment than you realize. Air, water and land all feel the negative impact. As the vast amount of materials we use continues to rise, it’s important to continue working on ideas and solutions to help reduce trash and manage local landfills. Most cities have put into place these and other strategies for waste reduction now and in the future.
It’s a good idea for everyone to become more familiar with the use of biogas and sustainable material management, for the sake of our — and our planet’s future.