Waste of many different forms is dumped on the planet. Each affects the environment in various ways. People, factories, processes, and animals produce waste every day, so it is an inevitable part of society. There are majorly five types of waste - Liquid waste (all grease, oil, sludges, wash water, waste detergents, and dirty water), Solid Waste (garbage, sludge, and refuse found in industrial and commercial locations), Organic Waste (rotten meat, garden and food waste found in households, farms, and restaurants), Hazardous Waste (flammable, corrosive, toxic and reactive materials) and Electronic waste (discarded electrical or electronic devices). Understanding the types of waste around you is critical to know how to deal with them. One should take the right steps to dispose of each type of waste properly.

Every year we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste. India alone generates 62 million tons of waste every year of which 77% is disposed of in open dumps, 18% is composted and only 5% is recycled. India uses 1040 hectares of land as dumping grounds for waste, which is equal to 42 cricket fields. It is predicted that if India continues to waste at this rate, India will need a new landfill the size of New Delhi, which is about 150 cricket fields more. Landfill sites cause a range of environmental and health issues. They release methane gas as the biodegradable organic waste decompose, which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Landfill sites have nauseous odors, unpleasant views, rat and seagull infestations, they are costly to maintain and can easily catch fires. So, unless the items cannot be reused, recycled, or recovered then only if should end up in a landfill.  Landfill sites contain both household and commercial waste. Household waste that gets sent to landfill consists of mostly organic waste, for example, food, paper, cardboard, or wood or contains plastic or tin packaging.

The landfills impact Biodiversity as the creation of sites requires wild areas to be cleared, leading to habitat loss and degradation. As landfill sites are filled, some local species can be replaced by other animals that feed on refuse, like rats and crows. Leachate is the liquid produced in landfill sites. This can become toxic and thus contaminate nearby streams, ponds, and lakes, damaging the habitat of many different organisms and the Soil fertility is impacted too. The combination of toxic substances and decaying organic material can be of detriment to the soil quality, distorting soil fertility and affecting plant life.

Disposing of waste has huge environmental impacts and can cause serious problems. A lot of the world’s waste ends up in the oceans and rivers that affect water quality and the biodiversity of marine life. Landfill sites accelerate climate change. Incinerating waste causes air pollution and contributes to acid rain, while the ash from incinerators may contain heavy metals and other toxins. Toxic and hazardous wastes are often sold by developed countries to poorer developing countries. The global waste trade has a reverse logic as the rich countries exporting their waste have the technology and resources to process the waste safely, while the countries importing the waste do not have such resources.

As the human population and overconsumption grow, the waste we produce becomes harder to get rid of even with adequate waste management. We tend to think that waste does not affect us, Out of sight, out of mind, right? Not so much anymore, with marine animals washing up on the beach with plastic in their systems it’s not so easy to ignore this problem. In some regions around the world, communities are being encroached by landfills. This has negative consequences on the quality of life; not just for humans, but also for the smooth functioning of our natural systems. So, remember, refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse; and rot (compost) the rest.

Source: Penn State University