Waste is a global problem that everyone is guilty of contributing every day. Plastic containers, wrappers, food scraps, and even animal feces you throw are waste that heavily impacts the public and, most importantly, the environment.
Globally, 2.01 billion tons of municipal solid waste is generated annually. A person then produces waste between 0.11 to 4.54 kilos of waste, averaging 0.74 kilos per day. According to statistics, global waste will grow up to 3.40 billion tons in the year 2050. This number exceeds, by double, the expected population growth in that same time.
Classification of Waste
Trashes are discarded materials that humans don’t want. Waste is produced in several ways, such as household, agricultural, and industrial activities. Waste can be generally grouped into solid waste, liquid waste, and gaseous waste but can be further classified into the following based on the waste produced.
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
Municipal wastes are those collected in the municipality, such as thrashes from households, streets, markets, and other urban areas collected by the local municipal bodies. They are also called domestic waste, and they are mostly composed of thrown out papers, clothes, plastics, glass, metals, organic matter, etc.
This waste is from the municipality that is not domestic wastes. They are primarily from commercial establishments carrying businesses such as schools, offices, roads, hotels, auto workshops, printing press, and many more. The litter caused by the business’s consumers is also included in commercial waste, such as food wrappers and containers.
Industrial waste is waste created in different industries, factories, and plantations. There are two types of waste created by these industries. They are:
- Non-hazardous Waste. They are produced from food processing plantation, textile industries, and paper, sugar, and cotton mills.
- Hazardous Waste. They are dangerous waste from nearly every industry, including drugs, chemicals, dye, rubber, pulp, electroplating, etc.
This waste is generated from various agricultural operations. This waste includes plants and animal manures from farms, poultry houses, slaughterhouses, harvest waste, and pesticides and fertilizers.
This waste came from hospitals, nursing homes, biological research centers, and medical centers. Bio-medical waste is often infectious and hazardous garbage such as infected needles, used bandages, medicines, drugs, body parts, cultures, animal remains, waste from surgeries, and many more pharmaceutical wastes.
Impacts of Garbage
Due to industrialization and increasing technology progress in various fields, there has also been a massive increase in waste production. Improper waste management brought many problems, mainly social and ecological problems. Here are more specific issues they had created.
On the Environment
Public health is not the only one affected by the repercussions of mishandling wastes. If there are chemicals and other dangerous materials in the trash, it can seep into the soil and water. Directly dumping trash in rivers, canals, seas, lakes, and other water bodies can contaminate them and further lead to contaminating the drinking water.
There are cases where waste from hospitals, pharmaceuticals, etc. such as used syringes, medicines, drugs, plasters, etc. are discarded as if they are not bio-medical waste. This instance is a significant health hazard because that type of trash is already contaminated and infectious. Everyone should know the safety guide on how to properly dispose of them.
Uncollected garbage is also a problem because it can clog stormwater runoffs, resulting in stagnant water formation. These dirty waters can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria and dengue. Rodents, flies, and other insects are also attracted to landfills, making them possible carriers of diseases.
Smokes from power plants and factories are a significant contributor to air pollution; contaminated waters will, later on, be water pollution; soil and land will be heavily polluted because of harmful compounds from wastes.
Public Health and Society
If waste is mismanaged, it will create a public health risk. This issue will happen when trashes are dumped without further care in inhabited areas and can result in various infections and other chronic diseases.
Rats, insects, and mosquitoes breeding in landfills and stagnant water have a significant chance of carrying illnesses that can be spread to the people. When various water bodies are polluted, it can also contaminate civilians’ drinking water, which can make them sick.
Hazardous waste is specifically dangerous, and direct exposure to this waste can be harmful because residual chemicals remain in the trashes. These chemicals can lead to chemical poisoning and be deadly if someone is in the garbage’s surrounding area.
The most prone people affected first with these infectious diseases will be waste workers and rag pickers. Children, the sickly, and the elderly are also vulnerable to these damaging pollutants because of their weakened immune system.
On the Animals
Aside from the environment and society, animals are also affected by the problems brought by damaging wastes. Chemicals and waste discharge into the environment disrupt the balance of the soil, water, and air ecosystems.
For instance, if the water bodies are contaminated, aquatic animals living there are exposed to toxic substances that they can ingest without knowing that they are harmful. Also, if there is an accumulation of waste in the water, the oxygen level decreases, and fishes and other marine life will die.
The rapidly increasing number of waste globally can pose serious health problems for the public and, unsurprisingly, irreversible risk in the environment. Nobody is exempted from the repercussions to come when we cannot act on this problem on time.
To fight this problem, everyone has to know their responsibility as an individual and a citizen. Everybody must be knowledgeable on how to properly segregate waste and smart on how we minimize their contribution to this problem.