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Chapter 12. Waste. Waste—What is it?. The waste stream includes everything we put in our trash Solid waste – discarded material that is not a liquid or gas Plastics, metal, paper, food, building materials, etc.

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waste what is it
Waste—What is it?
  • The waste stream includes everything we put in our trash
  • Solid waste – discarded material that is not a liquid or gas
  • Plastics, metal, paper, food, building materials, etc.
  • According to the EPA, The average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash a day (1,600 pounds per year!)
what do we throw away
What do we throw away?
  • 41% Paper
  • 24% Food and Yard Waste
  • 16% Plastics
  • 10% Other (Clothes, diapers, etc.)
  • 5% Glass
  • 4% Metals

!!! 60% of what is thrown away is recyclable!!!!

(Source: ODNR 2004)

why do we generate so much trash
Why do we generate so much trash?
  • We have more money to spend on material goods
  • We use technology that is upgraded constantly, rendering products outdated
  • Good advertising for products makes us feel we need new items
  • We live in a ‘Throwaway Society ’
  • Much of the food produced is wasted
why is so much waste an environmental problem
Why is so much waste an environmental problem?
  • Producing large amounts of goods to replace what we are throwing away depletes natural resources, both renewable (trees, water), and non-renewable (coal, oil).
  • Trash must be hauled away
  • WHERE DO WE PUT IT ALL? At some point, we may run out of viable options for waste disposal! (Think Wall-E)
function of a landfill
Function of a Landfill
  • Landfills are currently made with BAT – Best Available Technology
  • They are “sanitary”, meaning waste is enclosed in clay and plastic liners to prevent leakage
  • Waste is piled in cells which are covered by soil on a daily basis
  • Leachate (garbage juice) is collected in tubes to be reused or treated
  • Operates for years, then when full, is capped
positives negatives of a landfill
Keep wastes out of the environment

Methane produced by bacteria eating wastes can be used to generate electricity

Land can have limited use after 30 years of problem-free monitoring

They can fail and pollute soil and water

Leachate can be toxic

Unmonitored methane can escape and cause explosions (rare)

Expensive to build and monitor

Ohio has many due to high amount of clay

Positives/Negatives of a Landfill
function of incineration
Function of Incineration
  • Trash is burned at high temperatures
  • Reduced to ash
  • Smoke is treated by “scrubbers” in the smokestacks
  • Ash may be put into a traditional landfill, or may need to go to a toxic waste landfill
positives negatives of incineration
Greatly reduces volume of trash that goes into a landfill

Waste-to-energy plants can use the heat of combustion to create steam to turn turbines

Regulated by EPA…

Extremely toxic smoke and ash are produced

Reduces recycling as there is an incentive to burn high density plastics

Plastics produce dioxins

Dioxins are carcinogens

Positives/Negatives of Incineration
function of mrfs
Function of MRFs
  • Trash is brought in and sorted to remove recyclables from the waste stream
  • Clean MRF – sorts recyclables
  • Dirty MRF – sorts mixed household trash (food mixed in)
  • Waste is sorted by magnets, reverse magnets, by machines and by hand
positives negatives of mrfs
Greatly reduces volume of trash that goes into a landfill

Saves tons of recyclables from the landfill

Provides materials for recycling

Provides jobs

Expensive to run

Money is made on the sale of recyclables: 1 and 2 plastics, paper, metal but NOT as much on 3-7s

People may think their waste goes to a MRF, so they don’t recycle

Positives/Negatives of MRFs
litter waste out of place
Litter: Waste out of Place
  • When trash is not thrown away, either on purpose or on accident, it is called litter
  • Ohio litter laws punish with fines up to $500 and 60 days in jail
  • KAB – Keep America Beautiful’s anti-litter campaign features the (The Crying Indian)
great pacific garbage patch
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • Discovered by Captain Charles Moore
  • Estimated to be 2x the size of Texas!
  • Not only a problem to birds and turtles, small broken down plastic bits are entering the food chain
  • How does this affect YOU?
so what can you do to reduce waste
So, what can you do to reduce waste?
  • Reduce – Source reduction of waste; buy items with less packaging, buy in bulk, buy concentrated and refillable items, use less
  • Reuse – Pass on items for reuse, find new uses for old items (freecycle.org)
  • Recycle – breaking down/melting of waste to make new products
  • Close the loop!! Buy recycled items!
reduce
Reduce
  • Avoid being part of a “throwaway” society.
  • Buy less stuff!
  • Use old items longer, repair them
  • Buy higher quality items that will last longer. It is usually worth the investment. Examples?
  • Pre-cycle – buy products with biodegradable packaging or no packaging. Make smart purchases!
reuse
Reuse
  • Find new uses for old items, reinvent their purpose. Examples?
  • Shop at consignment shops (Plato’s Closet) and Goodwill
  • Find bargains at yard sales and garage sales

Eco-artware.com

Greenfeet.com

ReadyMade

Instructables.com

recycle
Recycle
  • Paper – many types from office to cardboard can be recycled into paperboard (cereal boxes)
  • Metal – recycling steel cans (soup) and aluminum saves resources and energy
  • Plastics - #1 PET and #2 HDPE are most easily recycled, but mixed plastics can be used. Carpet, clothing, plastic lumber, etc. are products of recycling!
benefits of recycling
Benefits of recycling:
  • Ohio’s recycling industry provides 169,000 jobs in Ohio (4.3%)!
  • Saves 53.5 million barrels of oil!
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 8.7 billion tons!
  • Saves 46.6 million cubic yards of landfill space (53,000 railcars)!
  • Saves $877 million in disposal costs!
  • 11 Billion soda bottles worth of plastic are recycled!
  • 60,000 tons of glass are recycled (enough energy saved to launch a space shuttle)!
  • Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees!
  • Ohioans recycle 2 million tons of paper!
  • 29 billion beverage cans worth of aluminum are recycled!
what to do with everything else
What to do with everything else?
  • Composting – create a compost pile to naturally break down lawn waste, vegetable matter, paper, coffee grounds, and eggshells. NO animal products like meat, bone, or oil.
  • Motor Oil – can be recycled at local stations
  • Christmas trees – can be made into mulch or fish habitat
  • Computers and appliances – local recycling drives and companies.
  • HHW – Hazardous household wastes: paint, solvents, etc. can be dropped off at centers.