Our recycling efforts prevent nearly half of the products and packaging we use from being wasted. Most of what is still being wasted every day can be recycled and composted with just a little improvement to our current systems.
What Are We Wasting?
· Over 50% of what we still throw in the garbage can be recycled through curbside and other types of collection.
· An additional 25% of our trash is comprised of food wastes and other materials that could be composted.
· The little bit of garbage that remains after we recycle and compost can be thoughtfully addressed through a zero-waste approach (which includes extended producer responsibility) to prevent waste altogether. In other words, there really is no waste.
Climate Change Impacts of Waste
Waste in incinerators and landfills create greenhouse gas emissions. When trash is burned, incinerators emit carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and nitrous oxide (N2 O), a greenhouse gas 310 times more powerful in atmospheric warming than carbon dioxide. On average in the U.S., incinerators emit more carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour than coal-fired, natural gas-fired, or oil-fired power plants.
Many people believe that throwing food scraps and paper products into a landfill is harmless because they biodegrade. However, most people are surprised to learn that when these materials break down in a landfill, they become powerful contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Compostable materials such as food waste and paper decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) in a landfill, producing methane (CH4 ) which has 23-71 times greater heat trapping capabilities than carbon dioxide. Landfills are the single largest direct human source of methane.
But what about creating energy from waste?
Methane from landfills and the BTUs generated from incinerators are sometimes captured and converted into energy.
· However, energy from waste is inefficient and does not eliminate the pollution created by landfills and incinerators, including the emissions of greenhouse gases.
· Even when a landfill is capturing some methane gas for energy production, many studies have shown that most of the methane gas is released before landfills even begin to capture it.
A Better Choice: Climate Change Benefits of Recycling & Composting
Composting is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gases. By composting, the
generation of greenhouse gases, particularly methane, is avoided. Backyard composting and well-run industrial compost operations will produce negligible greenhouse gas emissions (mostly from the operation of tractors and other equipment). Composting also has “upstream” benefits, which further conserve our resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When this compost is used on fields, it displaces synthetic chemical fertilizers. Fertilizer production requires intensive fossil fuel energy and seriously impacts human and environmental health.
By using compost:
· The greenhouse gas emissions related to fertilizer production are avoided.
· There is significant reduction in the use of pesticides (avoiding emissions associated with their production).
· Improves health and workability of soils, resulting in less fuel consumption to till the soil.
· Helps soils hold or sequester carbon dioxide. In addition to emission reductions, compost replenishes and revitalizes exhausted farm soils by replacing trace,
Even more we can:
Be aware of the harmful effects of this product (from a health and environmental viewpoint) and tell others.
Choose compostable products, @greengoodpack offers a wide variety of high quality food packaging, Plants Based products)
Switch your restaurant, coffeeshop, cafeteria or business to eco friendly, compostable alternatives. A growing number of local restaurants and coffee shops are switching to health-conscious, planet-friendly options -- thank them and tell them that it matters!
Ask your local takeaway restaurants to use a more health-conscious alternative to styrofoam. Many alternatives are now readily available and are made from materials such as post-consumer recycled paper, bagasse (sugarcane) and plant-based plastics.
Can we really recycle and compost this much?
For over 150 years, our worldwide manufacturing, distribution, and disposal systems have developed under the illusion that our natural resources are manageable and expendable and that any amount of pollution can be absorbed or diluted by the land and water. Today, we know this is not true.
We have the technology, and we can have the foresight to cost-effectively adapt this old system of using and disposing to a new system of conserving, reusing, recycling, and composting our resources. By adopting zero waste as our goal right now, we can change our economic measurements to support an abundant economy that rewards creativity, efficiency, community, healthy families and environmental protection. Not only will our environment and our health improve, but so will our economy.
Are you ready to make the change?