The Supreme Court yesterday (July 12) slammed Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal over the issue of garbage management in the city. “You (LG) say you have power, you are a superman. But you do nothing,” the top court told the lawyers representing the Delhi LG. The statement came after the L-G today said that garbage disposal in the city was the job of the civic body and he was in charge of monitoring it.
The Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Delhi government to clarify who could be held responsible for clearing the “mountain loads of garbage” in the national capital those reporting to L-G Anil Baijal or to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Here we are sharing the solution to this biggest problem
Every year, the United States generates approximately 230 million tons of “trash” about 4.6 pounds per person per day. Less than one-quarter of it is recycled; the rest is incinerated or buried in landfills. With a little forethought, we could reuse or recycle more than 70 per cent of the landfilled waste, which includes valuable materials such as glass, metal, and paper. This would reduce the demand for virgin sources of these materials and eliminate potentially severe environmental, economic, and public health problems.
Could We Bury It?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many of the country’s landfills have been closed for one or both of these two reasons:
• They were full.
• They were contaminating groundwater. The water that flows beneath these deep holes in our drinking water. Once groundwater is contaminated, it is extremely expensive and difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to clean it up.
Could We Burn It?
Yes and no. Incineration does generate energy, but at a cost–it may release toxins into the air and create ash that requires disposal in hazardous-waste landfills, and that takes us back to our starting point: Cities are running out of places to put their trash.
Could We Pay Someone to Take It?
Not likely. As our population grows, former outlying areas are becoming bedroom communities, and their residents mount stiff opposition to plans for expanding existing landfills or creating new ones, even in return for some perks. And as local and state government officials cope with the costs and problems of their own waste disposal, they are less willing to import other communities’ waste and the pollution it generates.
So where does this leave us?
Possible Solutions for Solid Waste
We do have some sustainable solutions, options that let us meet our current needs and provide for future generations as well. Our most promising alternatives are waste reduction and recycling.
Waste Reduction: Stop Throwing Things Out
A simple and obvious choice is to cut back on the amount of waste by using and throwing out less in the first place. Some states have adopted regulatory strategies to discourage dependence on landfills. In 1990, for example, California enacted a law that established a baseline for the amount of solid waste its cities and towns send to landfills. By 1995, that amount was to be reduced by 25 per cent; by the year 2000, by 50 per cent. California now diverts more than 25 per cent of its waste, resulting in the disposal of approximately 33 million tons per year. Such heavy cuts are usually accomplished by recycling.
Waste Reduction: Use Less Packaging
Packaging is one of the major sources of waste paper and plastics. According to EarthWorks Groups, it accounts for approximately one-third of all the garbage Americans send to landfills. Packaging should be minimal. Its production should be environmentally clean and it should be made up of materials that can be reused or recycled repeatedly. Some packaging is purposely elaborate to make the contents more attractive–cosmetics are notorious for this. Smart buyers can support the use of environmentally friendly packaging by purchasing products with minimal packaging or with packaging made of recycled or recyclable materials.
Recycling: Turning Waste Material into Raw Material
Recycling works, and it does so in several ways. It reduces the monetary and environmental costs of landfilling and incineration. It substitutes used materials for virgin materials, thereby reducing the demand for natural resources. It conserves energy. And it creates jobs in the community.
Many U.S. communities now actively recycle. Common programs include
• Curbside recycling containers. The community provides containers in which individual families deposit such materials as newspapers; glass bottles and jars; tin and aluminium containers; plastic bottles and bags; mixed waste paper (cardboard, phone books, magazines, junk mail, office paper, brown bags); and used motor oil. The community arranges for curbside pickup and delivery to a recycling facility.
• Drop-off recycling zones. Groups of large recycling bins are installed on the public property in one or more locations throughout the community.
• Recycling centres. The community provides the centre itself and encourages residents to drop off or sell refuse materials there.
• Green waste diversion and composting programs. Leaves, grass clippings, and other organic waste materials are composted and used to enrich the soil or as mulch or landfill cover.
Is there a downside to recycling?
Opponents of recycling argue that recycled goods are more expensive and that recycling takes away needed jobs. However, as more consumers choose to purchase recycled products and as recycling technology improves, the cost of these goods goes down, making them more competitive in the marketplace. And while diverting materials from landfills does take away disposal jobs, these jobs are often replaced by jobs in the growing recycling industry.