Sustainable Farm Waste Management

As the global population increases, so does the waste we produce.

As the global population increases, so does the waste we produce. Not only is waste in the environment a sign of the unsustainable habits we practice, this waste is detrimental to our health and contributes to the worsening climate crisis we are currently battling.

 

Waste abandoned in the environment puts at risk the equilibrium of the ecosystem and the lives of over 15,000 animal species.

According to a World Bank report, it is estimated that , in developed countries, one person generates an average 1 kg of waste per day. cans, plastic, glass, electro-domestic equipment, etc. Waste that we produced is irresponsibly handled; landfills fill up fast and left unregulated, and waste may be tossed into bodies of water.

 

In fact, 80% of the trash that causes the pollution of the sea comes from the waste we throw away.

If not for man, there would not be a growing waste problem. The elements that exist in nature do so in perfect harmony, moving through their life stages cyclically to fulfil their functions, allowing the earth to renew itself. In contrast, man-made waste like plastic and used tyres, cannot take part in this cycle, and they will remain as pollutants in nature for decades.

 

The world keeps generating more and more rubbish. According to a report conducted by the World Bank, the planet produced 2.01 billion tons of waste in 2016 — a figure that could rocket to 3.4 billion by 2050, representing an almost 70% increase in rubbish in just 30 years.    

 

Most of this rubbish ends up in landfills.    

 

The “A Roadmap for closing Waste Dumpsites” report conducted by ISWA (International Solid Waste Association), determined that landfill sites currently contain approximately 40% of the world's waste and that the 50 largest landfill sites impact the daily lives of 64 million people — equivalent to the entire population of France.  

Forest Fire

Waste Incineration

Incineration is among the worst approaches to achieve both waste reduction and energy goals. It is expensive, inefficient, and creates environmental risks.

 

In lesser-developed areas, waste is often piled up and burned in open spaces, creating harmful smoke and releasing pollutants into the air. Wildfires that spread across vast land may also be started by these burning that goes out of control. Even at more affluent cities where purpose-built incineration facilities are built to manage waste, the impacts to the environment cannot be ignored, even when heat generated is used for energy production.  

 

Incineration facilities are expensive to build and operate. The high upfront cost means they often require public sector support to underwrite private investments. It locks cities into high-carbon pathways by requiring them to continue producing lots of waste to feed the incinerator, undermining efforts to reduce waste generation or increase recycling rates. 

 

Cities without good waste segregation at source, municipal waste streams include large quantities of food waste. Food waste is composed of about 70% water, and burning it requires considerable energy. The net energy gain is low or non-existent, making incineration one of the least efficient ways to produce energy when compared to renewable sources like wind, hydro or geothermal.

 

When waste is burned in incineration facilities, it produces hazardous air pollutants including particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), carbon monoxide, acid gases, nitrogen oxides and cancer-causing dioxins.

 

Incineration can also cause water pollution, odour, noise, and vibrations, which impact on residential and commercial neighbours. In addition, it produces hazardous wastes associated with fly ash and bottom ash, which require careful handling and disposal.

How does landfill work?

A landfill site is a location that has been prepared for the purpose of dumping waste, rubbish or debris. To prevent the rubbish from contaminating the soil beneath it, before the land is used to store waste, it is covered with an artificial water-resistant coating. As a precautionary measure, landfill sites must be located away from inhabited areas, as well as areas used for farming or drinking water.

 

Waste is crushed and compacted, then transported to outdoor landfill sites to be dumped beneath soil and left to decompose.

 

However, much of this waste takes years to decompose due to the unsuitable dry conditions of the landfill sites and the characteristics of the materials.

 

Why are landfill sites so harmful to the environment?

Burying waste in the ground has an impact on our environment, even when done in a controlled manner. Some of the main problems that municipal landfill sites generate are detailed below.

Why are landfill sites so harmful to the environment?

Burying waste in the ground has an impact on our environment, even when done in a controlled manner. Some of the main problems that municipal landfill sites generate are detailed below.

1. Landfill are one of the causes of climate change

Landfill sites are partially responsible for global warming as they generate and release biogas into the atmosphere. Biogas is a mixture formed primarily by methane gas (CH₄) and carbon dioxide (CO₂), two of the gases that cause climate change and an increase in the planet's temperature. According to the ISWA report, if the current situation continues without further action, landfill sites will account for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

 

Some of these landfills have degassing methods, which is an improvement over conventional landfills, but still has its drawbacks: degassing is usually performed after the landfill cell has been closed, so methane from the more readily biodegradable components will have already been released into the atmosphere before degassing occurs. Horizontal degassing projects that aim to capture methane while the landfill cell is still in operation achieve better results, but they can only capture a portion of the methane generated.

2. They can cause fires or explosions
Sometimes methane produced by waste from landfill sites can cause explosions and fires. This downside is more than meets the eye, because the fires that occur are not regular fires with flames, but fires that occur inside the landfill. Dioxin emissions from these spontaneous uncontrolled fires are also very harmful to the environment, not to mention the damaging effects they have on aquifers, whose waterproofing membranes are affected by the fire.
3. They can contaminate soil and water
Landfill sites are often responsible for the contamination of soil and groundwater, as the pollutants (such as heavy materials like lead and mercury) that the stored waste may contain can spread to the soil and water near the plant.
4. Landfills alter the fauna

Landfill sites have particularly negative effects on bird migration. Some birds feed from landfill sites, accidentally ingesting plastic, aluminum and other waste which may be fatal to them.

In addition, another negative implication faced by birds due to landfill sites is that they are altering migratory activity. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of cases of species that have stopped migrating to the south and are instead choosing to nest in areas near landfill sites thanks to the endless food supply they provide. This is not only detrimental because, as we have seen, this can be a deadly diet for them, but also because their young already tend to ignore traditional migratory behaviour, so the problem is exacerbated with each generation.

5. Landfills reduce the value of the surrounding areas
The bad smells that emanate from landfill sites cannot be effectively controlled and, almost inevitably, reach nearby populations. Property prices are reduced in areas located near to these waste stores, which further perpetuates the devaluation of disadvantaged areas.
6. Accidents sometimes occur in landfill sites
In March 2017, the Addis Ababa landfill site in Ethiopia collapsed, causing an estimated 113 deaths. Only a month later, the Meethotamulla landfill site in Sri Lanka suffered a landslide, leaving more than 30 people dead, dozens of people missing, and more than 140 houses destroyed. In February 2020, two workers were killed when the Zaldívar landfill site in Spain collapsed. Rain, spontaneous combustion or excessive accumulation sometimes turn landfill sites into unstable terrain where landslides or collapses are very dangerous for plant workers and for nearby areas.

What can we do to alleviate the waste issue caused by man?

By mimicking nature’s design of cycles that use and reuse its elements, we can mitigate this pressing problem.

 

This cyclical model is the inspiration for the closed loop economy, one of the most effective weapons in combating waste pollution. The closed loop economy seeks to reduce production and reuse the elements that by their properties cannot return to the environment and convert that waste into a resource.

Subscribe To Be Updated With Our Latest News, Announcements & Updates

+65 6842 4329

45 Ubi Crescent Singapore 408590

© 2021 by NIApplications Pte Ltd.