Saturday, March 8, 2014

Individual Project: Incineration As A Solid Waste Technology

Every day we wake up and put our trash bags out on the front yard and wait for the garbage collectors to come and pick them up without ever knowing where our waste gets taken to and what happens to it. Most of us would assume that the final destination of our waste is the garbage can and we fail to realize that the process of waste management and disposal does not end at the point that the garbage truck collects them.

The sad truth of the matter is that either the waste that we throw out gets recycled or it gets dumped on rivers or landfills which are quite harmful for the environment and for the health, safety, and sanitation of communities in our society. So the nagging question that many different social and environmental groups is basically how do we dispose our wastes properly in such a way that we are not risking the lives of people and the environment?

In my case, perhaps the best solution and method that we can implement is by making use of incinerators.

Of course, incineration as a way of disposing waste may not be the panacea that society needs since there are pros and cons to this method but in the long run, I believe that it solves more problems that it can possibly create. Taking everything into consideration, at this moment there really is no solution for the problem of waste management that does not have any consequences or that does not require any compromise because the fact that we have to face is that each year, the world produces tons of waste, large enough to cover the entire landmasses of the earth and to fill the oceans with waste. According to an article published in the New York Times in 2010, “New York City alone sends 10,500 tons of residential waste each day to landfills in places like Ohio and South Carolina.” (Rosenthal, 2010) Based on the statistics of the Eurostat, “In 2010, the total generation of waste from economic activities and households in the EU-27 amounted to 2,500 million tons,” and they further indicated that, “Among the waste generated in the EU-27 in 2010, some 101.3 million tonnes (4.0 % of the total) were classified as hazardous waste.”(Eurostat, 2013) These are definitely overwhelming figures to deal with especially since the world has rapidly industrialized over the past few centuries and with the advancements in medicine and technology, human longevity has been extended resulting in an explosion of population until such a point that the earth simply cannot support the massive number of life thus there would be even more waste generated per country annually then the world as we know it may someday implode due to the excessive stress placed on its resources.

So I believe that there is an urgency for us to help alleviating the pressure that the earth and its ecosystems are constantly having to deal with through eliminating the problems caused by humans, one of which is the excessive amount of waste in the environment which kills habitats, spoils and poisons the pristine resources of nature, and catalyzes the decay of trees, forests, and rivers causing the death of many wild species thus losing much of the diversity that the earth once had.

How would the process of incineration help in the endeavor to lessen the impact of industrialization and civilization to our environment? Simply put, we are going to eliminate much of the waste that we produce by converting them into energy so that not only do we solve the problem of the health and sanitation of humans and other living creatures but we also make amends so that the energy crisis of the world can be augmented through this process. In so doing, we might be able to eliminate the use of coal and fossil fuels, and be able to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Relatively, I can say that this is the most tenable solution that we have at this moment in solving the two-fold problem of waste management and energy crisis that persists in our world today. Despite the qualms of certain groups against the use of incineration as a source of energy and as a waste disposal method, I do think that the benefits that it provides comparatively outweigh the said disadvantages or the claims that it may further harm the environment or the inhabitants that live around it. I think as long as the government and its agencies provide the highest quality of incinerators in their municipalities that there would be little to no casualties or harm that can be done. Of course, this would cost more investments but if we think about the long-term, then it provides enough compensation for the initial costs that it would take to build it. Furthermore, looking at how developed countries have maximized the potential of this technology, I do believe that it is a good solution for the problems in waste disposal and management and also the energy crisis that the world faces.

Reference List (Infographic and Essay)

  • Müller, Ernst. 2012. Energy from Waste Incineration Plants. Swiss Federal Office of Energy. February 15, 2014.

  • Incineration. Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Ed. Presence Switzerland. February 15, 2014.

  • Rosenthal, Elizabeth. 2010. Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash, but U.S. Lags. New York Times. February 15, 2014.

  • 2009. Municipal Solid Waste Incineration. Federal Office for the Environment. February 15, 2014.

  • Pyper, Julia. 2011. Does Burning Garbage to Produce Electricity Make Sense?. Scientific American. February 15, 2014.

  • 2013. Waste statistics. Eurostat. March 8, 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment