Trash is the most significant global problem that nobody is discussing. By putting more thought into the consequences of our actions, we can better understand how our waste affects our planet.
Here are the exciting facts about trash you didn’t know:
Rich Countries Usually Export Recyclables to Developing Countries
Estimated billions of tonnes of solid waste accumulate globally annually, and nations must manage and dispose of it appropriately. Addressing some of this waste has involved exporting it to developing countries through the global waste trade. This trade is also known as toxic colonialism. Rich countries are getting rid of their toxic waste by selling it to developed nations.
China is one of the leading waste importers of plastic, producing an estimated 60 million tons of plastic waste annually. And the country only recycles only 30% of this waste. Fortunately, China introduced the plastic ban in 2018. But yearly estimates show US plastic exports increased from 45 million tons to 48 million tons in 2021.
The World Generates 92 Million Metric Tons Of Textile Waste Annually
The garment industry produces 100 billion garments yearly, and 92 million tonnes end up in landfills. In other words, a trash truck full of clothes is disposed of in landfills every second. By the end of this decade, fast fashion waste will amount to approximately 134 million tonnes annually.
That’s not all. Roughly 85% of all textiles end up in the trash in the US, with Americans disposing of 12.8 million tons of materials each year. Fashion is responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with textile production emitting 1.2 billion metric tons annually.
There Are Several Ocean Garbage Patches Globally
Between California and Hawaii lies the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a horrifying mass of floating trash three times larger than France. The patch has received much attention over the years due to its size and environmental impact.
However, it is not the only garbage patch floating in the ocean. It seems that at least two additional areas in the South Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean have been affected by ocean gyres causing trash to collect.
Approximately 20% Of Global Waste Is Recycled Annually
Every year, the world generates millions of tons of trash, an issue that is becoming a significant problem. But less than 20% of waste is recycled yearly, most of which still ends up in landfills.
Due to the sheer volume of waste, it is becoming increasingly crucial for authorities to treat and dispose of waste appropriately, in homes, businesses, and interim restrooms like port-a-potties.
Indonesians Are Living in Displacement from Their Homes Due to Growing Landfills
An Indonesian landfill with a width of 200 football fields and a height of 15 stories receives 7,000 tons of trash daily. Bantar Gebang has stored Jakarta’s waste in Bekasi for over 30 years. Locals estimate that around 20,000 people live within walking distance of the landfill, and many pick trash and scavenge for recyclables to make a living.
There is no end to the size of the landfill, which is one of the largest in the world. The government is forcing some nearby residents out of their homes to expand the dump into the surrounding villages.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Made Recycling and Waste Management Harder
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, recycling rates have fallen across the United States, Asia, and Europe. As a result of the pandemic, new waste emerged in the form of personal protective equipment and single-use items. There were over 8 million tons of plastic waste during the pandemic.
Approximately 25,000 tons of that plastic waste ended up in the ocean, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Trash poses a considerable problem, but we rarely discuss it, and there’s no question we’re not managing our waste well at all. Across the nation, landfills overflow with trash, fast fashion piles up in deserts, and beaches dump plastic pollution.