WASTE LEVELS IN NUMBERS
Every year humans make more than 1 billion tons of waste. The problem is getting worse as we throw more and more away. By 2100 we will throw away 4 billion tons per year. This waste is bad for the environment. This is because it does not break down when we throw it away. Because of this it stays in the world and builds up. If we do not cut down on the amount of waste that we make then the world will start to fill up with waste.
This can be bad for human health. Waste smells bad and carries diseases if it does not break down. If it does break down it can leak toxins into the ground. These toxins can get into the water supply and make people ill. This means that we need to cut down on waste.
DISPOSING OF WASTE
Even if we cut down on waste we will still produce some. This is okay as long as we get rid of it in the right way. Many people around the world still do not know what to do with their waste. Because of this they get rid of it in ways that are bad for the environment. One way that people get rid of their waste is by burning it. Sometimes this happens in landfill sites or at home. Both of these are bad for the environment. Burning this waste can cause more problems than leaving it.
DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT
More than 40% of the world’s waste is burned by people. This is bad for the environment. Around half of the waste is made up of carbon. When we burn it this releases a gas called carbon dioxide. This gas is really bad for the environment. It can contribute to something called global warming. Global warming is happening now and it is making the world heat up. This can be very dangerous for all humans on the planet.
The smoke from the fires can also be really dangerous. This is because the smoke includes pollutants. Pollutants are substances that can damage the earth and air. This causes harm to humans too. We also don’t know everything that is in this waste and so it might be worse than we realise.
Burning waste can also be bad for our health. Small fires produce a lot of toxic substances. These can be poisonous for humans or make us ill. Even materials that seem harmless can be dangerous. Household rubbish contains a lot of plastics and paper treated with chemical coatings. It is bad for people to burn their waste because they do not know what is in it.
The fires also release toxic substances in the smoke. These are released close to the ground. Because of this they can be inhaled by humans. There is no way to put pollution controls on these small fires. This means that burning this waste can be really damaging to human health.
These fires leave behind ash. This can have toxic substances in it. Wind can blow these toxic substances away. This means that they can impact people further away if the wind is strong. It can carry the substances across cities and make people ill there too. The toxic substances can also seep into the soil. This can get into the water supply and make our water dirty. If we drink this water it can be very dangerous for our health.
29% of global emissions of small particles comes from burning waste. These can cause lung diseases and have been linked to heart attacks and some cancers. This is very dangerous for humans.
Many countries are making it illegal for people to burn their waste because it is so bad. 31 countries have done this so far. They want people to use recycling services instead because this can turn the waste into something new and useful. If we recycle our waste then it will become something new. We can save energy this way and stop the dangerous impacts of burning waste.
Some governments are creating ways to burn the rubbish on the large scale. This is done in large waste factories and can be used to make energy. The burning rubbish makes heat for energy. This can then be used by people in their homes. One of these factories burns 5000 tons of waste per day. It is better to send your rubbish to these places than to burn it yourself. Burning waste yourself is dangerous for you and for the planet. It might not look dangerous but it is. Burning waste can kill people 5 years earlier if they are not careful.