At Map Waste we are a specialist in the disposal of waste, often being called upon for commercial waste disposal services, but heres an opportunity to think about when you throw rubbish away from within your own home, as to what happens next…
Sitting down to breakfast, you pour yourself and the kids a bowl of cereal and glass of orange juice. While eating, you thumb through the last few pages of a magazine and sip a cup of tea. Tidying up the breakfast dishes, you toss the empty cereal box and milk carton into the bin along with the magazine. You accidentally knock the tea cup off the table, shattering glass all over the floor. Once the glass fragments are gathered up, they are added to the bin as well. On the way out the door, you pour hot tea into a Styrofoam travel cup. That cup will be tossed in the bin, at your desk, when the last drop is finished off. Dropping the rubbish at the door to be collected, you will never think about any of those items again.
What happens to the magazine, milk carton, cereal box, glass and Styrofoam cup once used for their intended purposes and then tossed out? Once waste is collected, it typically travels to one of three places: a landfill, an incinerator, or a recycling centre. Waste disposed of in the landfill is buried and left to decompose, which can take hundreds of years depending on the material. For instance, the plastic milk container can take up to one thousand years to decompose. The glass from the broken tea cup can take up to five hundred years to break down in a landfill and even longer in water. Paper decomposes rather quickly, and the magazine will break down in about six weeks. Styrofoam never decomposes. If buried in a landfill, it will remain on Earth forever.
Reuse and Recycle
Most product packaging used every day can be recycled, including all of the items tossed out after breakfast. Recycling reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills and the materials collected are used to make new products. Rubbish is collected and taken to a recycling centre where it is separated using a large machine. Paper, plastic, metal and glass are baled or packaged and shipped to manufacturers who will use the material to create new products, such as pizza boxes and paper cups.
The average home produces over one tonne of waste per year. All that waste has to go somewhere. Waste management programmes have made it easier for people to take advantage of opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.