With the growing size of today’s landfills, the environmental implications cannot be ignored. From atmospheric effects, to compromised water supplies, society needs to take a proactive approach in dealing with the concern’s landfills pose.
The use of recycled materials has contributed to an efficient solution, as shown with statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014. The study showed the situation improving and waste production being limited from 89 percent in the 1980s down to 53 percent as of 2014.
Another method of dealing with the overflow of trash in these landfills is through waste incineration. Many facilities incorporate a mix of recycling and incineration to reduce the amount of waste.
Landfills – A Growing Problem
World population quadrupled throughout the 20th century. Throughout that time, our growing population became a society of consumers who prize the convenience of disposable goods. Our exploding population combined with increased consumption of disposable goods creates one significant problem: garbage.
Humans produce garbage at a phenomenal rate. The average American creates 4.4 pounds of garbage every day; the nation produces 254 million tons of the stuff every year. Garbage poses special problems to communities and the environment. Most of the garbage is stored in landfills, where the waste decomposes at a snail’s pace. Landfills are increasingly common and getting larger all the time, which is challenging to island communities and other areas with limited space.
There are more than 2,000 active municipal solid waste landfills in the United States, according to the EPA. There are thousands more inactive landfills sprawled across the nation. These landfills are a significant source of pollution. Biodegradable organic matter in landfills breaks down to produce methane, which traps heat in the atmosphere to produce air pollution. Rain can release highly toxic chemicals from the landfill to cause groundwater pollution.
The rate at which we produce waste vastly outpaces the rate at which this waste decomposes in landfills. Plastic waste can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Food waste, which is the largest waste in American landfills, can take months to break down. An orange peel can take up to six months to break down in a landfill, for example. While this does not seem like a lot at first glance, the average American eats about 9 pounds of fresh oranges each year and consumes about four times as much in orange juice, and all those peels take a long time to decompose.
Because of the increasing amount of garbage produced, and the slow rate at which the mountains of garbage shrink due to decomposition, landfills will continue to grow in number and size.
Humans will generate twice as much solid waste by the year 2025, according to some estimates, skyrocketing from 3.5 million tons each day to about 6 million tons daily. Worse still, the amount of solid waste will only keep growing. Global trash production will likely hit its highest rate sometime after 2100, when humans will produce approximately 11 million tons of trash every day. At this rate, our world will eventually run out of places to dispose of the solid waste that fills our garbage cans.
Clearly, we need a better approach to garbage.
Waste Incineration – An Effective Solution to the Garbage Epidemic
Incineration is a viable solution to the globe’s mounting garbage problem, as incinerating garbage effectively reduces the amount of waste buried in landfills. In the past, municipalities were reluctant to incinerate waste because traditional methods of burning garbage produced toxic gases. Fortunately, advancements in incinerator technology now include filters and systems that process the gases to remove all toxins prior to emitting the cleaned air into the environment.
There are several advantages of waste incineration. Garbage incineration is beneficial for nearly every municipality, but it is increasingly essential for island communities and other areas with limited space for landfills. Incineration reduces the volume of waste by about 95 percent, depending on the specific materials included in that waste, and decreases the solid mass of the original waste by 85 percent. This means incineration reduces the amount of material that ends up in the landfill, an essential benefit for countries and islands that have very little land available for waste disposal. Waste incineration is also beneficial in the management of medical waste and certain types of hazardous waste, as a waste incinerator can bring up temperatures high enough to destroy harmful pathogens and toxins.
Baker Furnace manufactures waste incinerators that are used to reduce the amount of garbage in settings with limited space for disposal. Baker Furnace also supplies thermal oxidizers and afterburners to remove toxins from the emissions created during the incineration process. For more information about pollution control equipment contact Baker Furnace today.