Waste can seem like a loose term and be considered the lack of utilizing an object’s full potential, such as discarding or upgrading objects that still can perform their intended function and purchasing excess objects. This can be partly attributed to the drop in quality of certain objects resulting in higher turnover. The graph above shows the best ways to prevent wasting in this sense of the definition, and it isn’t a surprise that avoiding waste primarily is the root of waste prevention. However, for the sake of this article, waste will refer to the discarding of an object to be sent to a landfill when it can be recycled. Waste processing has become a growing issue in many countries. As we begin realizing the adverse affects of waste such as the release of greenhouse gases, expansion of landfills, and clutter of debris in marine environments, people are beginning realize the importance of reusing and recycling.
The amounts of waste vary greatly among different regions. Particularly in the United States, figures show that Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)—household garbage—has increased from 1960 to 2005, where it peaked at 4.69 average pounds per person every day then consistently dropped to 4.38 in the latest study in 2012. (1) To compare, Germany’s similar MSW readings were 3.82 in 2001 to an average of 3.41 from 2006-2010 and Sweden’s were 3.12 in the peak of 2007 and dropped to 2.81 in 2010. (2) As the figures show, recycling is growing in demand and manufacturers around the glove are capitalizing on the energy potential of waste.
A great example of recycling and by-product utilization was the Smurfit Kappa plant.
They primarily produced paper, but after they removed the fibers from the pulp-lignens and cellulose (black liquor)-they burned it using a CHPP and used the electricity on site. More information can be found at:
As for anaerobic digestion, MSW, cow manure, and leftover food are converted into electrical and thermal energy. In this process, the greenhouse gases produced by natural decomposition would be prevented from entering the atmosphere. Anaerobic digestion also produces a fertilizer as a by-product that is rich and diverse in nutrients.
The city zoo in Munich uses animal manure to power their anaerobic digesters on site.
For more information on anaerobic digestion and it’s waste reusing processes, follow the link to Mario G.’s in-depth description.
By-product utilization and recycling are important in renewable energy. Recycling doesn’t only save money on waste transportation costs, but also provides energy for mass that would otherwise require space at a landfill. To compete with fossil fuels prices, renewable energy will need be optimized and reusing is an important step.
1. Municipal Solid Waste | Wastes | US EPA. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/waste/nonhaz/municipal/
2. Fischer, C. (n.d.). Managing municipal solid waste – a review of achievements in 32 European countries. — European Environment Agency (EEA). Retrieved June 4, 2014, from http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/managing-municipal-solid-waste