Over recent years, there have been many reports about garbage littering the oceans, piling on landfills, and threatening animal biodiversity. The call for proper garbage management has never been in demand, as the problem accelerated far quicker than anticipated.
The garbage produced by humans has grown exponentially over the last few decades and have started to manifest the negative effects of its improper disposal. It is a leading global problem that affects not only the natural ecosystems but also human life.
Plastic pollution is a global catastrophe. Between 1.15 and 2.4 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. The Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest of five massive rafts of floating garbage in the world’s oceans, is now twice the size of Texas, according to Forbes. In the last year, numerous whales have washed up dead on beaches around the world with their stomachs stuffed with plastic bags and other debris. There’s now enough long-lasting plastic globally that it will be a permanent part of humanity’s fossil record.
Plastic has only been in mass production since the 1960s, and there are already an estimated 8.3 billion tons of it the world over, according to National Geographic.
In retrospect, Americans produce almost 35 million tons of plastic garbage each year. The stuff takes up to 400 years to break down, and not even 10% of it gets recycled.
“We all knew there was a rapid and extreme increase in plastic production from 1950 until now, but actually quantifying the cumulative number for all plastic ever made was quite shocking,” says Jenna Jambeck, a University of Georgia environmental engineer who specializes in studying plastic waste in the oceans.
“This kind of increase would ‘break’ any system that was not prepared for it, and this is why we have seen the leakage from global waste systems into the oceans,” Jambeck says according to National Geographic.
Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form. Only 12 percent has been incinerated.
As a form to mitigate the problem governments from different parts of the world has decided to implement more effective ways of helping its citizens recycle and dispose of their garbage.
In Philadelphia in the United States, it plans to create a citywide network of up to 25 composting sites, designed to reduce food waste and create organic soil for residents to use for gardens and crops, the Philadelphia Times reported.
In an online post by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Office of Sustainability seeking applicants to host the sites, officials explained that they envision the sites to preferably be located on city-owned land used by urban farms, civic organizations, community gardens, recreation facilities, or schools.
“We want community groups to participate,” Ash Richards, who will oversee the Philadelphia Community Composting Network program, said Wednesday. Applicants who are chosen to host facilities would be responsible for maintaining them and distributing the compost. “Ultimately, we want residents and folks who have agricultural projects to have access to land and grow nutrient-rich food. So we want them to have nutrient-rich soil.”
Food waste is a big and growing problem, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicating that 39 million tons of food waste are generated annually.
Moreover, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide goes to waste.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the globe, Australia is looking to clear trash bins to help encourage better recycling practices. Particularly, the main idea behind the trash bins is to serve two purposes: allow recyclers to clearly see what is inside each bin and dispose of trash accordingly. Meanwhile, the second reasons serve as a way to “shame” people who do not recycle their trash properly as the contents of their bin can be publicly seen.
“If we want to encourage behavioral change, I think this is something that will really encourage people to do the right thing … and we have a reputation as a clean, green city,” Mr. Simms told Adelaide Now. “In a way, it is kind of naming and shaming.”
In Moscow, the city will be implementing a city-wide recycling system to address the growing concern of its trash being transported and piled in landfills in different parts of the country. Furthermore, the action should help address the public concern as protests and rallies have been made calling out the action.
Separate bins for recyclable materials will appear in the courtyards of all residential buildings by Jan. 1, 2020, the Moscow mayor’s office said in a press release on Tuesday, Moscow Times reported.
The new system will reduce the amount of plastic, glass, paper, cardboard and aluminum waste that gets sent to landfills, the statement said.