The need for an innovative waste management program has never been so important as the world’s population continues to grow. As you know, waste created, especially in urban areas, comes with a price. The price that we pay for the garbage we generate has a huge impact on our economy. But that is not all. It also has a devastating impact on water, land and overall wellbeing of humanity. Beirut’s Trash River should serve as a reminder to the rest of the world of the consequences of inefficient waste management.
Generally, waste management is a billion dollar industry in developed countries. It is an issue that requires a lot of considerations when you explore the best ways to get rid of garbage. The biodegradable stuff like organic items and food are not a big issue. The main problem is those dang bottles and other substance that end up in landfills.
Europe seems to lead the way with regards to waste management. Therefore, it is no surprise that countries such as Austria, Sweden, Germany, and Belgium are top performers in terms of recycling. With that said, recycling alone is not the sole indicator of how effective a waste management system is. With your permission, let’s now look at how developed countries manage their waste.
To help us understand how the developed world manages their trash, let’s take the Czech Republic as an example. Being the centre of Europe, the Czech Republic provides a typical outlook of waste management in the EU region.
The first step to waste management in this country is sorting trash. Most of the garbage collected here are sorted according to materials, and they are kept in bins with different colours. For instance, blue containers store paper, yellow bins are for plastics, green bins stores coloured glass, while white container stores while glass. The terra packs and metals are kept in red and grey containers, respectively. Biodegradable garbage is kept in brown trash bins.
Besides these bins, there are several other less common containers for rare rubbish such as batteries and electro garbage. There is also recycle yards where you could get some other waste such as furniture, dangerous materials, and big electronics, among others.
In most developed countries, especially in cities, waste management is managed by local governments such as municipal councils. Residents of these cities get a monthly bill. Rubbish is picked up at specific days of the week or month, where bins are moved to the curb by the residents. From here the trash is transported to the final place, usually landfills, waste energy plants or incinerators. Big buildings usually have a central dumpster that can be used by everyone.
Some cities have a unique bin set aside for recycling materials. These bins are usually taken to a recycling facility. Only a few cities have compost trash bins that store biodegradable waste. In most cases, there are rules and special services that vary across cities on how to handle trash. For instance, some cities have bulk pickup every few months. These pickups usually target bulky items such as couches and mattresses. Electronic waste and batteries are usually disposed of in special recycling centres.
Landfills and other major disposal sites are highly regulated with lots of prohibition against the content of these sites leaking into water or surrounding soil. Most of the rural waste are either burnt or dragged into a city for disposal.
Another example of how waste is managed in developed countries is Japan. Visitors who take a wrong turn on the ways to Universal Studios in Osaka may not know that a funky-looking facility with a gold-dome tower and wavy lines is actually a huge waste incinerator. This ECO-friendly incinerator is just a symbol of how the city has transformed itself from a pollution suburb to a leading environmentally conscious spot.
In the 1970s, the city had serious water and air pollution crisis. Authorities in Osaka moved swiftly to tight environmental regulations, especially on industrial emissions. As a result, industrial waste such as sulphur dioxide has reduced drastically. Closing gaps in sewer lines have contributed to clean rivers, while a subway system has helped to reduce nitrogen oxides.
Germany, for example, banned the use of traditional garbage dumps and instead adopt a new sophisticated system. The new system needed more investment that traditional system, so the government encouraged German entrepreneurs to get into the sector. As a result, over 70 incinerators, 800 units for converting organic waste to compost, and 60 mechanical and biological facilities have been established.