The environmental problem of waste

December 27, 2022

Waste is one of today’s major environmental problems, which poses a potential danger to human health as well as a danger to the natural environment. In many countries, there is still a problem of misunderstanding the seriousness of the problem of solid waste, and as a result, there are no strict regulations, as well as the necessary laws and regulations governing issues related to waste and garbage.

The seriousness of the waste problem has not been so prominent before. Until a certain time, nature coped with the processing of waste itself, but the technological progress of mankind has played an important role in this point. There are new materials, which can take hundreds of years to decompose or recycle naturally, and such anthropogenic loads are beyond the power of nature. Yes, and a very important factor is the modern volume of waste produced. It is simply enormous. But today, waste and garbage can be considered as raw materials. They can be recycled and reused. For each urban resident there are about 500 to 800 kilograms of waste per year. In some countries, up to 1,000 kilograms. And this number is growing all the time.

Modern incinerators and recycling plants with their entire arsenal are a kind of entire industry for the recycling and disposal of municipal solid waste.

What kind of waste is there?

Household or municipal waste – a huge variety of liquid and solid waste, discarded by humans, as well as generated as a result of human activity. It can be spoiled or expired food, medications, household items, and other trash.

Industrial – raw residues that were formed as a result of production of any products, production work and have lost their properties fully or partially. Industrial waste may be liquid and solid. Solid industrial waste: metals and alloys, wood, plastics, dust, polyurethane foams, polystyrene foams, polyethylene and other debris. Liquid industrial waste: sewage of different degrees of contamination and their sediments.

Agricultural – any waste resulting from agricultural activities: manure, rotten or unusable straw, hay, silage pit residues, spoiled or unusable mixed fodder and liquid feed.

Construction waste is generated as a result of the production of construction and finishing materials (paint and varnish, thermal insulation, etc.), the construction of buildings and structures, as well as installation, finishing, facing and repair work. Construction waste (both solid and liquid) may be overdue, unusable, rejected, surplus, broken and defective goods and materials: metal profile, metal and capron pipes, gypsum cardboard, gypsum fiberboard, cement-bonded particleboard and other sheets. In addition, various construction chemicals (lacquers, paints, adhesives, solvents, antifreeze, antifungal and protective additives and agents).

Radioactive waste – production and use of various radioactive materials and substances.

Industrial and agricultural waste is commonly referred to as production or industrial waste. As a rule, it is toxic and non-toxic waste and garbage. Toxic – wastes that can affect a living being in a damaging or poisonous way. There is a huge amount of toxic waste in Russia. They occupy large storage areas. The most contaminated waste is the Urals region. About 40 billion tons of different wastes have accumulated in the Sverdlovsk Oblast. Every year 150 to 170 million tons of waste is produced, some of which is toxic. Only a small part of this waste is recycled and neutralized. There is a heavy load on the natural environment, which poses a danger to the population of many millions.

The planet is literally flooded with garbage. Solid household waste is diverse: wood, cardboard and paper, textiles, leather and bone, rubber and metals, stones, glass and plastics. Rotting garbage is a breeding ground for many microorganisms that can cause infections and diseases.

Plastics are dangerous in their own way. They do not degrade over a long period of time. Plastics can remain in the ground for dozens, and some types for hundreds of years. More than a million tons of polyethylene are wasted in disposable packaging. Every year in Europe, millions of tons of plastic waste ends up in the trash.

There are innovative methods to produce diesel fuel and gasoline from waste plastic products and materials. This method was developed by Japanese scientists. This technology makes it possible to get from 10 kg of plastic waste up to 5 liters of diesel fuel or gasoline. By such methods it is possible to obtain not only economic benefits, but also to reduce the anthropogenic impact on the environment.

The use of waste and garbage as raw materials allows a more rational use of natural resources and reduces harmful emissions into the atmosphere and wastewater discharges. For example, using waste paper as a raw material for paper production, it is possible to reduce harmful emissions into the air by 70-80%, pollution of water bodies by 30-35%, as compared to the use of primary raw materials. About four cubic meters of wood can be saved by using one ton of recovered paper. This saves thousands of hectares of forest land, which in turn works to clean the atmospheric air from carbon dioxide. It is possible and necessary to avoid ecological catastrophe and depletion of natural resources. In England, boxes are set up to collect old, read newspapers, where people throw newspapers and they are sent for recycling.

Collecting waste paper is not the most important process in the chain of production of recycled materials. Factories must be equipped with all the necessary production facilities. In Russia, this industry is poorly developed. To get newsprint from recycled paper, it is necessary to remove paint, purify the mass and bleach it. The process is quite simple and not cheap. And all the economically unprofitable processes in Russia are over before they even begin.

In Europe, the insulating material from waste paper, began to make a long time ago. The so-called ecowool (insulation), gained popularity not only among builders, but also among consumers. This is an ecological material perfectly safe for humans and the environment.

The Japanese went even further. They make toilet paper from recycled railway and subway tickets. They also make cardboard containers from these tickets.

Pollution by non-ferrous metal waste. Hundreds of thousands of used batteries are taken to city landfills. Together with garbage, hundreds of tons of mercury, tin, tungsten light bulbs end up in landfills. It is several times more profitable to recycle secondary raw materials as waste than to produce them from primary raw materials. Obtaining metal from ore is 25 times more expensive than collecting and recycling recycled metal. Aluminum production from primary raw materials consumes 70-80 times more electricity as compared to melting waste.

Glass containers lie in mountains in every city, and not only in disadvantaged areas, but also in the heart of the city, this phenomenon is not uncommon. Glass containers either go to a solid waste landfill, landfill or an incinerator. Although reusable glassware is economically more profitable than producing new glassware, this point is not properly developed.

With the growth of the automobile industry, the negative impact on the environment has increased. In addition to batteries, plastic, metal, a huge amount of waste in the form of rubber tires comes from cars. The main problem with such waste is that nature is unable to cope with rubber. Avoid ecological pollution by automobile tires by recycling them into rubber grits up to 5 mm in size. After which, the resulting material can be used to produce a variety of products.

Russian scientist Platonov, invented a method of obtaining fuel from old tires. The tires are placed in a special reactor and poured into a chemical solution. After a couple of hours, an oil-like liquid is obtained, which can be distilled into gasoline. Thus, processing 1,000 kg of tires, you can get about 600 kg of oil-like liquid, which then turns out 200 liters of gasoline and 200 liters of diesel fuel.

Radiochemical plants, nuclear power plants, scientific research centers, produce one of the most dangerous types of waste – radioactive. This type of waste is not only a serious environmental problem, but can also create an environmental disaster. Radioactive waste can be liquid (most of it) and solid. Improper handling of radioactive waste can seriously aggravate the ecological situation. It is forbidden to bring radioactive waste to Russia from other countries, we have enough of our own. Sad experience of acquaintance with radioactive waste also exists – the Chernobyl accident. This type of contamination is global.