Waste management refers to collecting, transporting, processing, and disposing of waste materials. It is a crucial procedure for minimising the harmful effects of waste on the environment and people's health. Waste management done right can help stop pollution and disease outbreaks. Waste not correctly disposed of poses significant health threats to people and wildlife by contaminating the air, water, and soil. Inadequate waste management can also result in the emission of gases that contribute to global warming, such as methane and other greenhouse condition gases.
The IDEM sums up waste management importance: "Reducing waste will not only protect the environment but will also save on costs or reduce expenses for disposal. In the same way, recycling and/or reusing the waste that is produced benefits the environment by lessening the need to extract resources and lowers the potential for contamination."
Effective waste management aids in the preservation of natural resources by reducing the requirement for virgin materials and promoting the recovery of valuable resources through recycling and other techniques. Also, it can have a positive economic impact by creating jobs in the waste management industry and making it possible for businesses that adopt sustainable waste management methods to save money on raw materials. Environmental safety and sustainability, promoting public health, and safeguarding natural resources all depend on effective waste management.
Waste can take many different shapes, including:
Several methods are used to handle the different kinds of waste:
Overall, effective waste management entails a combination of many strategies depending on the type of rubbish and the resources available for handling it. The objective is to maximise the recovery of priceless resources through recycling and other methods while minimising the detrimental effects of waste on the environment and public health.
Improper waste has detrimental effects on the environment. This includes:
Air pollution: Waste produces dangerous and harmful gases when not disposed of correctly. These gases contribute to climate change and air pollution.
Water pollution: Waste management issues can taint water sources and cause pollution. This could harm aquatic life and spread infections that are transmitted by water.
Land pollution: may result when waste is placed in unregulated places, such as illegal dumpsites. This may cause soil and groundwater to become contaminated, endangering plants and animals.
Greenhouse gasses: Waste management issues can cause the atmosphere to become more abundant with greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. These gases influence climate change and global warming.
Depletion of resources: Poor waste management can cause the loss of valuable resources that could have been salvaged through recycling and other methods.
A structure called the waste management hierarchy places the best option at the top of the hierarchy and ranks waste management solutions according to how they affect the environment. Usually, there are five layers in the waste management hierarchy. These are as follows:
The waste management hierarchy prioritises options with the most negligible environmental adverse effects to encourage sustainable waste management practices. Waste can be managed to avoid environmental damage, save resources, and safeguard human health by adhering to the waste management hierarchy.
Reduce: Reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place is one of the most efficient waste management strategies. We must minimise the use of single-use plastic, increase the use of reusable items and make smart, eco-friendly purchases.
Compost: Organic waste can be used as a fertiliser, breaking the substance into its basic components. The use of composting diverts unnecessary waste going to landfills and thus preserves resources and reduces the release of GHG emissions.
Recycle: The practice of reusing discarded materials to create new goods. Recycling can minimise greenhouse gas emissions, waste sent to landfills, and resource use. Paper, glass, metal, and other items that are frequently recycled
Waste-to-Energy: By converting non-recyclable waste into energy, waste-to-energy technology might lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. Gasification, anaerobic digestion, and incineration are a few waste-to-energy technology examples.
Extended Producer Responsibility: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy concept that holds producers responsible for disposing or recycling their products. EPR can motivate companies to create more specific items to recycle and thus cut down on the quantity of waste in landfills.
These are only a few instances of good waste management techniques. Individuals, communities, and governments may lessen the environmental impact of waste and move towards a more sustainable future by putting these strategies and others like them into practice.
For a business, your first step should take is a waste audit. Forbes says: "The most important step you can take is conducting a waste audit. Working with a professional waste auditor, you’ll take a deep dive into your waste management and recycling habits, evaluating your waste management practices, existing contracts, and plans for the future."
Reuse and reduce: The first and arguably most important step is reducing the amount of waste you generate. Start using producing with less unnecessary and unsustainable packaging. Instead, use products with eco-friendly packing and look for reusable products. For example, reusable coffee cups, water bottles etc.
Recycle: The next focus point is to recycle everything possible, but be sure to do so responsibly! Educate yourself and those around you on recyclable materials such as cardboard, glass, and metals and make it a priority in your business and home setting. Composting: Be sure to have a compost bin available so that food and garden scraps can be easily discarded in the compost.
Donate: Donate items that are no longer in use to reduce items going to landfill. It also provides an opportunity for items to be reused and upcycled.
Education: One of the best ways to improve waste management is by educating people on the importance of sustainable waste management and the harm that irresponsible waste management can cause.
The circular economy is a new economic approach that aims to establish a closed-loop system by extending the life of materials and products. The sustainable economy model prioritises the reduction of waste by encouraging the reuse, repair, refurbishing, and recycling of items. It differs from the traditional linear economy, where resources are extracted, processed into products, utilised, and then discarded as waste with little to no management.
By implementing circular economy ideas, the demand for landfills and other unsustainable waste management practices can be reduced and eventually eliminated. It means that waste can be seen as a resource rather than an ongoing burden. Furthermore, a circular economy can open up new opportunities by encouraging the growth of expanding new sectors, and business models, and prioritising sustainability and resource efficiency.
These trends indicate a movement in the waste management industry towards a more all-encompassing and sustainable approach, emphasising lowering waste creation, increasing resource efficiency, and reducing environmental impact.
By lowering the amount of greenhouse gas emissions discharged into the environment, sustainable waste management techniques contribute significantly to the fight against climate change. One way this is achieved is by lowering methane emissions, which are potent greenhouse gases. Organic waste decomposes in landfills, producing methane, which is thought to be responsible for about 18% of all methane emissions worldwide.
Less organic waste is delivered to landfills when sustainable waste management techniques like source reduction, recycling, and composting are used, lowering methane emissions. Furthermore, recycling and composting lessen the demand for new materials, saving a lot of energy and reducing greenhouse emissions from the extraction, processing, and shipping of these materials.
Recovering energy from waste is another way eco-friendly waste management techniques help reduce climate change. For instance, some waste-to-energy technology can harness the energy released while burning rubbish and transform it into heat or electricity used to run buildings and residences. This lowers the need for fossil fuels and may lessen greenhouse gas emissions linked to energy generation.
In general, sustainable waste management techniques can aid in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, protecting natural resources, and fostering a more resilient and sustainable future.
Job creation: Effective waste management opens up millions of job opportunities in growing and emerging sectors. For example, composting, recycling, and waste-to-energy conversion.
Savings on costs: By putting recycling programmes and waste reduction practices into place, sustainable waste management strategies can also aid in reducing the overall cost of waste management.
Decreased GHG emissions: A significant benefit of waste management is that it reduces the released of GHG emissions and other harmful gases into the atmosphere.
Preserving natural resources: Introducing more sustainable materials and reducing harmful waste habits and materials help safeguard resources like minerals, water, and wood.
Reduce pollution: Good waste management helps to reduce pollution, which can considerably enhance both human and animal health.
The New Zealand government has passed a number of laws and regulations during the past ten years to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly garbage management.
One such example is the Waste Minimization Act of 2008, which will be updated in 2020 to emphasise waste reduction and the circular economy ideas. The Waste Minimization Fund, which provides financial support for waste reduction initiatives throughout New Zealand, was founded under this Act.
The New Zealand Plastic Packaging Statement was launched by the government in 2018 in an effort to reduce plastic waste and increase the use of recycled plastic in packaging.
The government recently released the Resource Management Amendment Act 2020, which makes improvements to how New Zealand manages the use and disposal of its natural and physical resources. The act's main objectives are to decrease waste and enhance the usage of renewable resources.
Find out more about New Zealand’s regulations on the Ministry of Environment Page.
In summary, waste management is essential for safeguarding the environment and public health. It entails the gathering, moving, handling, and disposal of waste. Effective waste management techniques can aid in resource conservation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and advancing a circular economy. Waste reduction and recycling are the most favoured solutions according to the waste management hierarchy, a valuable framework for organising waste management methods. The Waste Minimization Act and the Climate Change Response Act are only two of the rules and regulations that the New Zealand government has put into place to encourage sustainable waste management. Yet, difficulties still exist, including better waste statistics, enhanced infrastructure, and higher public participation and awareness. By collaborating and implementing sustainable waste management techniques, we can create a cleaner and more sustainable future for all.
The Emissions Trading Scheme is New Zealand's key tool for reducing harmful atmospheric gas levels to meet international climate change response goals. Find out how and why.
Learn about carbon sequestration rates under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and their Carbon Credit earning potential, per hectare.
The New Zealand carbon market is a big and relatively new space. This blog will cover the NZ ETS, market functions, carbon credits, and the different participant interactions in the NZ carbon market.