The importance of proper waste management cannot be undermined especially given the state of the world that we live in today. Australians produce at least 65 million tons of rubbish per year. The widely accepted environmentally friendly waste management methods like reducing, repairing, recycling, reusing and refusing have minimised our rubbish production but they’re not enough.
The methods of burning and burying rubbish are less popular alternatives in the management of waste, especially when done incorrectly. However, there are still communities and groups who are practising and advocating the said methods until this day.
Let’s find out if there are benefits that we can get from practising either method.
The questions that we’ll tackle in this article are:
- “Are there advantages of using the burning of rubbish and burying of rubbish methods?”
- “What are the disadvantages of using such methods?”
- “What’s most effective: Burning rubbish or Burying rubbish?”
Burning of rubbish or waste incineration is one of the oldest methods of waste disposal known to man. It is the process of burning organic waste materials with high-temperature flames. The end-products, as well as by-products of this process, include flue gas, heat, and ash.
Directly burning waste without proper filtering of the end products (and by-products) can be detrimental to the environment and to the air we breathe. To counter this problem, highly industrialised countries have developed technologies that can minimise the release of harmful gases into the air.
Having said that, there are still issues that we have to be worried about. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of waste incineration.
Advantages of Burning Rubbish
- Burning rubbish can reduce the mass and total volume of actual waste by 95%.
- Prevents waste from being brought to landfills.
- The gases produced through incineration can be used as energy.
- Incineration plants can be safely located near cities thus reducing transport costs.
- Global warming effects are minimised as there is no methane produced when incinerating waste.
Disadvantages of Burning Rubbish
- The construction, installation, and operation of incineration plants are very expensive.
- The gases produced are extremely hazardous if they escape into the atmosphere.
- There are reports of various serious health problems like cancer, birth defects, respiratory diseases, and other effects on communities living near incineration plants.
- Using this method has long-term effects on the environment.
- Rubbish incineration is a potential deterrent to using other safe waste management practices such as recycling and minimising waste production.
Burying rubbish is a waste management method that has evolved through the years. It was a previously shunned method due to the destruction it brings to the soil, water, and surrounding environment. Landfills are where the waste materials are dumped and later buried by covering the top with soil.
The landfills of today, in sophisticated countries at least, have highly specialised designs that can prevent the seepage from contaminating the surrounding areas. These landfills are considered to be now eco-friendly to some extent.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of burying our rubbish.
Advantages of Burying Rubbish
- Burying rubbish is a cheap method of waste management.
- Landfills can be used as an energy source by harnessing the methane they produce.
- Using the right technology, the hazards and environmental damage it brings can be minimised or completely avoided.
- Keeps the populated areas, cities, and towns clean.
- More jobs and business opportunities can be generated when using this method.
Disadvantages of Burying Rubbish
- Requires a large area to be exclusively used for this method.
- Rubbish thrown and buried in landfills breaks down very slowly; making the area unusable for a very long time.
- Improper burying of rubbish can leak dangerous and extremely toxic chemicals (leachate) to the soil and water.
- Piling up bacteria-laden medical waste can increase the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can easily be inhaled by humans and animals.
- Carbon and methane coming from landfills are culprits of the fast climate change we’re experiencing at this very moment.
To summarise it all, both burning and burying of rubbish have their upsides and downsides. These methods of waste management are scorned by eco-friendly institutions while they are embraced by the leaders of highly-industrialised nations due to their income-generating potential.
This topic is a matter of choosing the lesser evil versus choosing which is best for everyone. Both methods of waste management can provide large-scale benefits but the risks of choosing either of them cannot be denied. Whether you choose one over the other, your choice will always be the “second-best solution”.
There are other waste management methods that are far better and safer than burning or burying your rubbish. Let’s not be too glazed over the promises and profits that both methods can bring. We have a serious waste problem and it is far from over. We still have to find solutions that can be truly beneficial to every person, every nation, and every species on the only planet we have.