Before the Industrial Revolution, waste generated by our needs was low and mainly agricultural waste. Agricultural waste was further converted to either products like ropes, baskets, mats, roofing, fencing or animal feed and soil nutrients.
Industrial revolution and its requirements caused urbanisation, birth of cities and migration to cities. Growth in population in selected areas gave rise to excessive consumption, which in turn caused excessive generation of waste from factories which churned out products to meet our needs and from the work force employed to man factories in cities.
The huge quantities of waste generated over a period of time which could not be disposed has also been the cause of several epidemics.
Which leads us to ask several questions.
What is biodegradable waste?
Materials or Objects capable of being broken down or decomposed to smaller products by the action of living things (such as animals or microorganisms).
After being broken down they are easily absorbed into the soil to become nutrients or elements.
Identifying biodegradable waste
It is generally of plant, animal or mineral origin. It can be easily disposed by the action of microorganisms or animals. It can be broken down to base elements and is easily absorbed by the environment without damaging it.
Examples of biodegradable items
- Food Waste
- Animal And Human Excrement
- Slaughterhouse waste
- Most paper products
- Egg shells
- Flower/brush clippings
What is non biodegradable waste?
Materials or Objects not capable of being broken down or decomposed to smaller products by the action of living things (such as animals or microorganisms).
Since they cannot be broken down or decomposed they clutter the earth’s surface and and natural resources and are termed as POLLUTANTS.
Identifying non biodegradable waste
It is not of plant or animal origin or is of plant and animal origin but is processed and modified to change it’s basic natural composition. And hence cannot be broken down or decomposed to smaller products by the action of living things (such as animals or microorganisms).
Examples of non biodegradable items
- Plastic Cups
- Styrofoams Cups and Plates
- Plastic bottles
What is waste management?
Waste management is collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage, sewage and other waste products. Waste management involves the process of treating solid wastes and recycling items that don’t belong to trash. It is about how garbage can be used as a valuable resource.
Reduce Reuse Recycle plays a very important part in waste management.
These are some of the things that can be recycled and reused.
- Cooking Oil
- Earth and Rubble
- Electrical Appliances
- Small Electrical Appliances and Electronic Products
- Garden Waste
- Glass Bottles & Jars
- Household Batteries
- Lead Acid (Vehicle) Batteries
- Mixed Recycling
- Mobile Phones
- Pressurised Containers (gas bottles, fire extinguishers, etc)
- Scrap Metal
Waste that cannot be Reduced, Reused or Recycled generally becomes a part of the environment and is around for 100s of years.
Our planet continues to relentlessly grow in population. A corresponding growth in waste products also occurs. Our society has an etiquette that separates waste products from our immediate living areas.
This waste creates huge environmental problems impacting the entire planet. Recycling is a method to responsibly deal with this problem. The goal of recycling is to separate waste products into two major categories, Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable.
(Definition) Biodegradable materials are composed of waste from living organisms and the actual plant, animal or other organism when its life ends.
Examples of Biodegradable materials, often referred to as “bio-waste”, include the following:
• Human and animal waste
• Plant products, wood, paper, food waste, leaves, grass clippings
• Remains from the death of living creatures
It is very important to note that biodegradable waste can serve to support the future life of other organisms. This waste can be used to provide nourishment and a healthy environment condition for living organisms, which of course includes humans.
Changing biodegradable materials into something useful and nourishing is called bio degradation or decomposition. This process includes the help of other living organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and small insects. Other natural elements such as water, oxygen, moisture and sunlight also required to enable decomposition.
(Definition) Materials having properties that do not breakdown or decay are called Non-biodegradable.
• Electronic devices
• Medical waste
Non-biodegradable materials do not breakdown naturally. But, that doesn’t mean they cannot be reused. The key difference here is that the process requires time, energy and expense. Glass and plastic can be reused to make other products, but the waste must first be separated by type of material and then processed into a usable substance.
Biodegradable materials recycle naturally to a usable substance. However, they can still be a hazard to society. The methane gas byproduct from decomposition is harmful to the environment. There are methods to capture this gas to use as a source of energy.
Non-Biodegradable material waste creates more of a problem for society. Discarded computer parts, batteries,, used motor oil and medical supplies all contain harmful chemicals. Society must devise methods to encourage separation of these materials so they can be treated for reuse or safe disposal.
Recycling is a process to protect society from hazards of our huge volume of waste problems. Knowing more about the types of waste will encourage active participation in solutions.