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Outcome 4 —Global Issues. Solid Waste Disposal. Why is this an issue?. Early civilizations: Hunter-gatherers More modern societies: As cities developed, the need for trash disposal increased. http://revelationimports.com/Nomads.jpg.

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outcome 4 global issues

Outcome 4 —Global Issues

Solid Waste Disposal

why is this an issue
Why is this an issue?
  • Early civilizations: Hunter-gatherers
  • More modern societies: As cities developed, the need for trash disposal increased.



With smaller populations and more mobility, people left their trash behind as they moved on …


solid waste definition
Solid Waste—definition
  • Solid waste is defined as household garbage and other discarded materials.
  • In the US, each man, woman and child produces 4 lbs./day. If you include construction site and sewage treatment plant wastes, it bumps our totals up to 6 lbs./day...




if you really put your mind to it you can cut your household garbage down to one bag per week
“If you really put your mind to it, you can cut your household garbage down to one bag per week.”


solid waste definition1
Solid Waste—definition


On average, Americans produce twice as much trash now compared to 40 years ago!

  • Many of today’s products are designed to be used once and then thrown away.
  • During Nov and Dec, households will generate ~1million extra tons of garbage per week!









solid waste definition2
Solid Waste—definition
  • 2 types of trash—
    • Biodegradable — will eventually decompose due to actions of decomposers.
    • Non-biodegradable — will never decompose because they are not made of items found in the natural world.
where does our trash go
Where does our trash go?
  • Today: 60% of our trash is landfilled, 30% is recycled and the rest is incinerated.
  • % by volume = Paper 50%, Plastic 10%, Metal 6%, Glass 1%, Organic matter 13%, Misc. 20%
history of trash collection
History of trash collection
  • Open dump concept and problems
    • Produced smells in nearby areas
    • Provided breeding grounds for flies and rats
  • Unattractive to look at
  • Spread of disease rampant
today s trash collection
Today’s trashcollection
  • Sanitary landfill: Wastes put in ground and covered each day with dirt, plastic or both.
  • Mandated since 1993—trying to help environment has increased the $$ to dispose of trash. Landfills are expensive!
today s trash collection1
Today’s trash collection
  • Why are landfills so expensive?
    • 2 types of liners to contain leachate/garbage
    • collecting and treatment of the leachate
    • monitoring of groundwater, surface water, and methane.


layering in a landfill
Layering in a landfill
  • Pack/compact garbage into 3 m deep sections, cover with 15 cm soil and continue this layering until desired height. Finally, seal the landfill with 60cm of soil, planting trees and grass on top.
problems with landfills
Problems with Landfills

Leachate (it’s black) is seeping through a weak spot in the cover of a landfill:

  • Leachate — water that contains toxic chemicals dissolved from wastes in landfill. If this gets through the liners, it may contaminate nearby water supplies and poison ecosystems.



Stream in Connecticut

Leachate that has entered streams and completely contaminated the water.


problems with landfills1
Problems with Landfills
  • Methane —decomposition in a landfill that occurs without oxygen. The byproduct is methane, a highly flammable gas…
problems with landfills2
Problems with Landfills
  • Methane makes up only about 60% of the gases being released … also present are:
    • CO2
    • H2O, N2, H2S, VOCs
    • Vinyl chloride, Mercury, Benzene, Methylene chloride, and many more
    • Even some radioactive gases are released

Many of these other gases are known carcinogens (cancer causing)


problems with landfills3
Problems with Landfills
  • Eventually we will run out of space…no one wants a landfill in their neighborhood.
  • WI only has about 5 – 10 years left of landfill space.
  • Neighboring states are actually out of space already and are buying space in our landfills, decreasing our timeline even more.
alternatives to landfilling
Alternatives to Landfilling
  • Produce less waste:
    • By making choices you can limit your trash production.
    • Look at packaging options in the items you buy.
    • Companies will get the message that consumers don’t want all the extra packaging.


alternatives to landfilling1
Alternatives to Landfilling
  • Incineration: burning of waste.
    • Most waste is paper...burning reduces the volume of our trash by 90%.
    • Some plastics and bleached paper contains products that when burned create dioxin...a carcinogen.
    • The remaining ash contains heavy metals such as Mercury and Lead. This ash must be sent to a special landfill = $$


Chicago Incinerator

alternatives to landfilling2
Alternatives to Landfilling
  • Recycling—currently we recycle 30% of our trash, up from 7% in 1970.
    • saves raw materials and energy
    • it lowers air and water pollution.
    • An Al can produced from a recycled can uses only 5% of the energy required to mine the raw material (bauxite).
    • If we recycled the Sunday newspaper alone we could save 500,000 trees/wk
alternatives to landfilling4
Alternatives to Landfilling


  • Compost —
    • grass clippings/yard waste and kitchen scraps...
    • it would reduce stream of flow to landfill by ~13%

Backyard Composting


Municipal Composting

reduce and reuse the consumption issue
Reduce and Reuse—the consumption issue
  • US and Canada residents produce 2 – 3 times the amount of solid waste per person than other industrialized countries and many more times that of a developing nation.
  • People living in cities produce more than a rural person.
consumption issue
Consumption issue
  • More and more people work away from home making convenience foods a desirable item.
  • Many times, in a convenience food, it took more energy to produce the packaging than it did to create the actual product!
consumption issue1
Consumption issue
  • Packaging makes up approximately 50% of our waste stream and is the cause for the use of 50% of our paper and 25% of all plastics...this all goes directly to a landfill!
disposables what s the big deal
Disposables…what’s the big deal?
  • Disposable items make up another 25% of our waste...in the US we throw out enough:
  • Aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet every 3 months
  • Tires to encircle the planet 3 times
  • 18 billion disposable diapers/year = to the moon and back 7 times!
  • 2 billion disposable razors/year
  • 10 million computers/year
  • 8 million TVs/year
  • 2.5 million non-returnable plastic bottles/HOUR
  • 38 billion pieces of junk mail/year
what can you do
What can you do?
  • Carry groceries that are small, or use a canvas bag, string bag, etc.
  • Buy recycled goods—especially if they contain post-consumer waste—and then recycle them when you are done. If you don’t buy recycled goods, then you ARE NOT recycling!
  • Reduce your junk mail

Mail Preference Service

Direct Marketing Association

11 West 42nd St.

PO Box 3681

New York, NY 10163-3681

what can you do1
What can you do?
  • Buy products in concentrated form when possible
  • Choose items with least amount of packaging
  • Helium balloons = litter! Don’t buy them
  • Use pesticides in smallest amount possible and whenever possible, use a less toxic alternative
  • Do not dispose of hazardous chemicals by flushing them, pouring down drain, throwing in trash or dumping in storm sewers...dispose of them properly!