As the human population continues to grow, waste is constantly increasing as well. In fact, the amount of waste can double the number of the world’s total population. According to an article by the World Bank, in 2016 alone, 2.01 billion tons of waste has been generated in all large cities around the globe, with an average carbon footprint of 0.74 kilos per person in a day.
Due to rapid urbanization, it is expected that the annual waste generation would increase by 70% — that is about 3.40 billion tons. Moreover, proper waste management is vital for building sustainable and habitable cities, but remains a challenge for many developing countries. Effective waste management is costly and often eats up 20% to 50% of the city’s municipal budget.
Making it operational is an essential municipal service that requires combined efforts from the local government and private trash removal companies to create plans that are efficient, sustainable, and well-supported.
With all these amounts of waste we humans generate day by day, it does not seem wrong to wonder sometimes where our trash goes. In this article, we will answer that commonly asked question and discuss where does trash go once it leaves our homes.
Where does trash go?
The answer might differ depending on specific areas, but the commonplace where our trash goes to landfills. These are sites where waste materials are kept prior to disposal through burial. Garbage burial is the oldest form of disposing of waste. But do trash removal companies instantly dump our waste directly to landfills?
All waste removal companies have waste-collecting trucks that go to the city’s waste transfer station — the area that acts as a temporary dumping site. Once all trash is collected and compacted, it will be loaded into a bigger truck that will take them to its last destination which is the city landfill.
From here to there
The journey of your trash does not ultimately stop in landfills. Usually, in a landfill, there are nearby or onsite Material Recovery Facilities (MRF). In cases that collected trash contains non-perishable items or industrial waste, it is the duty of the MRF to collect and recover useful materials before it reaches its final destination. MRFs have all the needed equipment for the filtering and recovery of such materials.
What happens then?
As we all probably know, there are certain materials that do not decompose easily and when left untreated may cause some severe negative implications to the environment. They are also potential hazards that can widely affect human health.
Most non-industrial waste that is classified as reusable makes up 35% of the total generated waste. These go to recycling facilities where they will be turned into new products. RFs usually focus on treating and processing materials such as plastics, paper, and broken glass. As for agricultural wastes, they are used to create a new compost for consumer and agricultural use.
In cases wherein landfills tend to be overly congested, another place where your trash goes to is waste-to-energy power plants in which your waste is converted to energy through the process of incineration. This process reduces original waste volume by 95%, consequently producing heat that can be used as energy.
Our waste undergoes serious treatment in order to maintain overall city cleanliness and prevent the possible increase in carbon footprint. Granted, the government authorities and waste removal companies are tasked with managing waste. However, in line with that, you also have a civic duty to dispose of your trash properly.