According to the European statistics agency, Eurostat, in the 27 members of the European Union, 40% of treated municipal waste was recycled or composted in 2011, up from 27% in 2001. While these are good news, let’s have a look at the official statistics.
The incredible amount of waste modern civilization produces needs to go somewhere. But where?
In some parts of the world, garbage is incinerated, especially in Europe. In other parts, it goes to landfills. Both methods attract criticism.
Why Files has an in-depth article on the
We are living in a world where high consumption has been relentlessly praised, suggesting that we should buy, consume and dispose more stuff than our grandparents used to do. With some nations consuming more than others, the quality and quantity of waste varies across borders. And so does the way it is managed.
A conventional method for waste management is to dump the waste into designated landfill areas where it is left for years without being monitored. Landfill activity remains the most commonly used organized waste disposal method in the world. It is also the easiest and the cheapest. However, brimful landfill sites, hazardous waste and uncontrolled greenhouse gases cause greater environmental and economical impacts. As a simple example, part of the carbon content of the waste when it is dumped into a landfill site, is emitted into the atmosphere in the form of methane, which has a greenhouse effect 20 times greater than that of CO2.
Singapore is a bustling city state at the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia. Independent from Malaysia since 1965, it has a dense population of 4.7 million people crammed into 269 sq. miles (697 sq. km)— that’s roughly 3.5x the size of Washington D.C.
In spite of its lacking land mass, the tiny country is a major economic hub in Southeast Asia and boasts one of the best standards of living of any Asian city, and even rivals many metropolis overseas.
It’s a city that is well planned, tightly regulated, visually attractive, and thankfully lacking the woeful pollution that afflict other centers like Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Waste and the City
All the economic activity and large population of course is not without its downside: waste. In 2008 the total volume of solid waste had reached 5.97 million tons. Luckily, according to government figures, roughly 2.24 million tons (approx. 56%) of this was recycled. That still left a lot left to deal with.