Definition: What is waste
Existing in several forms, waste generally designates everything that no longer serves us and that we wish to get rid of.
It is the leftover food that we throw in the trash, the bottles and the packaging that we put in the special containers. Larger objects, old damaged furniture, mattresses, broken bicycles, which are taken to the recycling center. But it is also the materials, products and residues related to businesses, agriculture and various industries.
Nevada residents produce an average of 475kg per inhabitant per year, a figure that is around 19 tons per year taking into account the population as a whole and all professional sectors.
They will then be landfilled or incinerated depending on their nature or their dangerous nature, but also increasingly recycled to limit as much as possible the environmental pollution they cause. Their responsible management is one of the major axes of the ecological transition.
Easily understand waste management in NV
Consuming better means learning to limit our impact on the environment and admitting that despite centuries of evolution, our survival will always depend on that of nature. For humans, it is an extraordinary source of food, materials and wealth of all kinds, which over the centuries have given rise to tremendous discoveries. And then, at a time of massive urbanization, nature is also a way to change pace and refocus on the essentials. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to cut oneself off even for a moment from our human societies.
Visible and invisible pollution from our activities finds its way into even the most remote areas of the planet. And since our development will continue, the management of our waste will become one of the main issues of tomorrow.
What management methods are used today? What new projects are planned? How to support the transition towards more responsible management at the individual level? This is what we will discover in this new topic.
The different types of waste
First of all, according to the definition proposed by the government of Nevada, waste means any substance or any object which the holder discards or which he intends or is required to discard. We use a multitude of objects on a daily basis in the context of our activities or our personal life. Once their mission is completed, we get rid of them. The products then become waste, and are generally divided into four main categories.
First of all, there is agricultural waste, which ranks first with 375 million tonnes thrown away each year. It includes waste from forests, crops or livestock such as grape marc, waste from fruits, vegetables or those related to the meat industry, for example. Most are biodegradable and can be reused for fertilizer and livestock feed without going through the waste box.
Building waste comes next with 130 million tons annually. Most of them consist of demolition rubble such as bricks or concrete blocks. They are considered inert, that is to say that they are not dangerous for the environment. On the other hand, they do not decompose, which necessarily poses a problem in the long term given their quantity.
Industrial and commercial waste represents 98 million tonnes each year and includes wood, paper, cardboard, scrap metal among many other materials.
Our household waste comes in fourth place with 17 million tons, ranging from food scraps to packaging, vials and magazines. Some can also be potentially dangerous for humans and the environment. This is the case for batteries, light bulbs, paints and various chemical products, also used in the industrial sector.
In Nevada, it is the state of NV that determines the management of all types of waste.
On the other hand, local authorities are only obliged to take care of our household waste (check this website). Waste from economic activities remains the responsibility of their respective producers, who must then call on private service providers or set up sorting and reuse procedures on an individual basis.
What is particularly problematic today from a waste management perspective, beyond the methods used, is the colossal proportion of waste that we generate every day.
The population is increasing, cities like Reno are developing, consumption patterns are changing and as a result, waste is becoming both more and more numerous and less and less biodegradable. Driven by consumer behavior, many manufacturers even go so far as to voluntarily reduce the lifespan of their products by integrating poor quality parts to encourage them to buy again. This is called planned obsolescence. The practice has been punished by law since 2015 but testifies to our current society which pushes to consume and throw away without consideration for the life cycle of the product.
The key junk disposal numbers
As a result, the mass of waste is growing faster than any other source of environmental pollution, including greenhouse gases. Every year, the world has to deal with 0.3 billion tons of solid waste, 33% of which is not managed in an environmentally friendly way. And it is estimated that the figure will increase by 70%, to reach 0.45 billion tonnes by 2050.
From an economic point of view, we note that high-income countries account for only 16% of the world’s population but alone produce almost a third of all the waste on the planet. The palm of the bad student goes to East Asia and the Pacific but in Nevada, each inhabitant still produces an average of 790 kg of waste per year. And production continues to grow by about 1% each year.
In low-income countries, only 48% of garbage is collected in cities, and 26% in rural areas. A lot of waste is simply burned on site or left in the open air, which promotes respiratory infections and other diseases.
As for high-income countries, they of course have much more efficient collection and management systems, but they are totally insufficient. For years, thousands of containers loaded with waste for recycling have left Europe and the United States for South East Asia where treatment is much cheaper.
According to waste management experts (check this website), Nevada itself sent 50% of its sorted plastic waste to China. Things are still going on today, but Beijing, like Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines, has clearly tightened their import conditions so that they are no longer the garbage cans of Western countries. As a result, more garbage to manage on our territory and recyclable waste simply burned or dumped for lack of suitable equipment.
Despite everything, countries continue to develop and often forget to equip themselves with essential systems to deal with the progression of waste, and its evolution. This is why middle-income countries are to be watched closely, as they are the ones that are expected to experience the strongest growth in the volume of their waste in the years to come. This should be multiplied by three in sub-Saharan Africa and by two in South Asia by 2050.