Trash is an inherent but undesirable part of every household all over the world. Waste disposal and management practices differ from country to country, with some relying on traditional methods and others completely revolutionizing the industry.
The methods of waste management may differ between developed and developing nations, between urban, suburban and rural areas and between industrial and residential complexes.
What Exactly Is Waste Management?
Waste management involves the collection, transport, monitoring, disposal or recycling of waste collected from households, in an effective manner that has the least impact on the environment or has the potential to be an important source of energy.
Let’s take a look at some innovative waste management practices from all over the world:
Germany is known to be the number one recycling nation in the world. The country has gone from 50,000 landfills in the mid-20th century to less than 300 landfills today.
Germany plans to have zero landfills by 2022. Households in Germany are expected to comprehensively sort their trash and dispose of it in local public garbage bins that are color-coded.
There are separate bins for paper and cardboard, plastics and metals, glass and organic waste. With more than 70 incinerators, 60 biological and mechanical waste processing factories and 800 compost producing units, Germany has replaced the old-fashioned ‘garbage dump’ method of waste disposal with a sophisticated and practical system of recycling and energy production.
All this without even talking about the ‘Green Dot’ scheme. Introduced first in Germany, it has since been adopted by a number of countries in the European Union. This scheme requires manufacturers of consumer goods to contribute towards the recovery and recycling of packaging materials by paying a fee corresponding to the material and amount of packaging used.
This incentivizes manufacturers to cut down on packaging and take responsibility for recycling, which has helped Germany reduce waste by 1 million tonnes per year.
Sweden is revolutionizing the way in which waste is recycled. Around a whopping 99% of household waste is recycled or turned into energy with the help of 32 Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plants or incinerators all over the country and dedicated recycling stations not more than 300 meters away from residential areas.
While burning waste could be seen as controversial in several countries around the world including the United States, Sweden does a great job by incinerating around 50% of total household waste and using the heat to power heating systems in more than 800,000 Swedish households.
‘Zero Waste’ is their aim, and their recycling system is so effective and efficient that they import garbage from other countries to keep their plants running.
In 2017, the population of Singapore disposed of 8,443 tonnes of waste per day. The ever-growing population and economy have prompted Singapore to devise strategies for effective waste management.
Recyclable waste is sorted at the source and is processed. WTE plants incinerate up to 90% of the rest, and the heat generated is used to produce steam which is further used to drive turbines that power around 3% of the country.
That leaves the most remarkable part of Singapore’s waste management methods: the Semakau Landfill.
The ash left over after incineration, and non-incinerable wastes are then transported by garbage trucks to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station (TMTS), from where they are taken to the Semakau Landfill on a covered barge every night.
This landfill has been constructed on the eastern side of the Semakau island and is Singapore’s only remaining landfill. The National Environment Agency of Singapore has designed the landfill in such a way that the site is clean and scenic, while also preserving the corals around the island.
These countries are showing the world the way towards ‘Zero Waste.’ Several nations around the world are taking waste management seriously and getting inspired by the likes of Germany, Sweden, and Singapore to raise recycling rates and make the ‘best of waste.’
Do your part and help your country do the same too.