The effect of waste on our natural environment

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Do you know how waste really affects the natural environment? Depending on the type of material, its thickness and weather conditions, the decomposition time of certain types of waste can be extremely long. For example, a glass bottle can take 4000 years to decompose.
Waste can cause serious dangers for fauna and flora. For example, a fire can be triggered by the magnifying effect on a piece of glass, or small mammals can get trapped in bottles. The substances found inside batteries are also a health risk as they contaminate groundwater.
At landfills, the jumbled mess of waste is compressed which results in the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter, a phenomenon that produces leachate and biogas. Directly flowing into the lakes and rivers, leachate can be severely harmful to wildlife and it can poison animals drinking such polluted water. Even though landfills should meet air-tight requirements to prevent soil and water pollution, leakages into the environment are an unfortunate inevitability.
For all of these reasons, it’s important that we carefully manage our waste. Thanks to the recovery of recyclable materials and the reuse of organic waste, we can significantly lower the volume of landfilled materials, thus reducing the adverse effects on the environment.
As well as reducing the quantity of waste headed for the landfill, recycling helps lower the use of natural resources to make different products. For instance, a ton of recycled cardboard helps save 2500 kg of wood, each sheet of recycled paper helps save 1 liter of water, and 700 kg of crude oil is spared for each 1000 kg of plastic materials.