The atmosphere that surrounds the Earth contains many types of gases, including those known as “greenhouse gases.” Greenhouse gases (GHG) absorb and retain heat from the sun. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as the “greenhouse effect.”
Instead of passing harmlessly through the atmosphere and dissipating into space, radiation from the sun becomes trapped behind the greenhouse gases. It remains in the atmosphere and inevitably warms the planet.
Excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are already raising global temperatures. In the past 100 years, scientists have detected an increase of 1 degree Fahrenheit in the Earth’s average surface temperature.
A carbon footprint is the total amount of GHG generated by our actions. If our wastes are not disposed properly, it will end up polluting the environment and also facilitate the production of greenhouse gases.
If resource consumption continues according to historical trends, global resource extraction could balloon to 190 billion tons a year by 2060, resulting in greenhouse gas emission levels to increase by 43%.1
The extraction and processing of fuels, materials and even food contribute to a staggering 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress worldwide. And the waste we throw away contaminates the environment where wildlife once thrived, making migration, reproduction, and makes daily life more difficult , thus, resulting in thousands of deaths each year.
Burning fossil fuels has dire consequences for the air we breathe and for our respiratory health. Pollution diminishes air quality and can aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions, and it can also lead to a higher risk for strokes, heart attacks and premature death.
These unsustainable levels of waste production could lead to uncontrolled climate changes and dramatic changes to life on earth. However, we can make a difference by reducing the carbon footprint through proper waste management.
How can waste management reduce carbon footprint?
Waste prevention and recycling can reduce emissions from energy consumption
By appropriately managing your waste, you also help conserve natural resources including minerals, water and wood.
Manufacturing goods from recycled materials typically requires less energy than producing goods from virgin raw materials. When people reuse things or when products are made with less material, less energy is needed to extract, transport, and process raw materials and to manufacture products.
The payoff? When energy demand decreases, fewer fossil fuels are burned and less carbon dioxide is emitted to the atmosphere.
Reduce emissions from incinerators and landfills
When our waste is disposed of efficiently, a lesser amount of junk will reach the landfills. By conserving space in landfills, the production of harmful substances is reduced.
Recycling and waste prevention allow more materials to be diverted from incinerators, thus, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of waste. Additionally, we can reduce methane emissions from landfills when materials decompose through proper waste management activities.
Increase storage of carbon in trees
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and store it in wood, a process called “carbon sequestration.” Waste prevention and recycling of paper products allow more trees to remain standing in the forest, where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 2
Energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities are a good alternative for waste management
This option is not significantly utilised globally yet, but could help manage the flow of waste and pollution emissions. These facilities provide a means for waste disposal while generating clean electricity. Besides, EfW plants burn garbage in a controlled environment that generates electricity, which in turn is sold to utilities, then distributed to residential, commercial, and industrial consumers. 3
Disposing of your waste in an ethical and responsible manner reduces the environmental impact. A simple way to do this is to contact a professional waste disposal service from a waste management company that respects the environment. Fortunately, companies can do their part to resist climate change by making their consumption and waste disposal practices more eco-friendly.