The challenge of waste disposal has affected both the developed and developing world for years. In urban areas, the situation is worse as more complex forms of garbage are being produced. The state is spending billions of dollars in its efforts to use modern forms of waste disposal, as space for the construction of more dumping sites is running out. Increased consumer demands in business increase demand for more materials. In the present world, packaging materials compose an immense bulk of all waste materials (Murray).
The industrial economy spurred the growth of urban centers, further covering available land spaces. In as much as the economy is continuously growing, more waste materials are generated. Space for landfills is becoming scarce, prompting environmental groups to coerce Americans to employ alternative forms of handling and disposing of waste, and the 3Rs of environmental management.
The garbage crisis
The history of the garbage crisis dates back to the beginning of mankind. Human beings have traditionally left their trash where it fell and owing to its organic nature, it decomposed without harming the environment. As hunters, we changed locations hence there was no interest in where the trash was.
The beginning of the agricultural revolution necessitated humans to settle. This is where the garbage crisis began, as humans started moving garbage rather moving. The population gradually increased, and cities rapidly expanded, eventually occupying available space for disposal. Technological advancement intensified, as the forms of waste become concentrated.
Garbage poses physical and environmental challenges in the environment notwithstanding its form of disposal (Chiras 464). Through leaching, dangerous chemicals leak into the ground and in water bodies. Farm produce may thus be affected by unknown compounds, while water may no longer be safe for consumption.
Free plastic and polythene bags present an environmental price paid by the community, further intensifying the garbage crisis (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 242). Incinerators pose environmental risks, especially in densely populated regions.
Diminishing landfill space
Locations of disposal of waste are gradually getting extinct (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 239). The lawsuits related to landfills, for example, the fresh kills landfills, have led to their closure in several cities. Air and water pollution have been the main factors cited for these suits, a result of the garbage crisis.
Plastic bags, conversely, take years to decompose in a landfill. The decomposition process affects water and degrades personal health. Many landfills have been closed due to the inability to satisfy ecological conventions. Districts and several communities are not enthusiastic to accept landfills within their communities due to their unpleasant nature and the associated health effects.
Lack of markets for recycled materials
Global economies continue to expand, leading to the conversion of more natural resources. More wastes are being produced as more energy is being consumed. There is thus the need for crafting more sustainable structures of manufacture. Recycling is one of these methods with numerous benefits. It markedly reduces the amount of waste to be disposed of, saves energy for the production of other materials and ultimately reduces the number of natural resources required in fabrication.
Barriers to market development significantly reduce the market potential to recycle goods. There are certain quality standards which are set for produced goods, and there is a general uncertainty on their superiority over other goods.
The global recession has further worsened the situation for recycled materials (Galbraith & Richtel). The waste materials are accumulating in storehouses due to the unavailability of buyers. The warehouses are also withholding some of the materials due to the extremely low prices offered by some customers. This buildup eventually ends up in landfills instead of being used again.
Residents have been forced to stockpile their own plastic wastes while the recycling process has been halted for cheaper disposal methods in other states (Galbraith & Richtel). There is no complete abandonment of the process, but the slowdown in operation is worrying.
The price of waste paper and tin has plummeted, the only casualty being glass which is still in demand. Certain materials like cardboard are rejected by certain mills, which claim that they are contaminated. These materials thus have nowhere to be disposed of, further compounding the garbage predicament.
The lack of awareness about recycled products significantly reduces their market. Most recycled products are expensive than original goods, as they are tagged with an environmentally conscious message. Financial investments in the goods are not stable due to the unsteadiness of the demand and supply factors of the recycled products (Kreith & Tchobanoglous, 9.2). Extraction of natural materials and the creation of more waste increases as the availability of disposal spaces lessen.
The attitude of Americans to the future
Americans are not sentient of how much they are in reality paying for garbage disposal. The cost for waste management is usually hidden in property taxes; hence the average citizen will not be seriously concerned with whether they can employ used goods in other sectors. Others are not aware of what essentially happens to the products they dispose of (Hawkins 7). Most citizens are not interested in pushing for environmental guidelines, which will promote their future physical condition (Makower).
There is diffusion of issues, especially on global climatic change, which ends up confusing people to an extent that they cannot understand minor environmental issues. Lobby groups are desperately trying to convince citizens to align their activities in an environmentally sustainable way in order to control the crisis.
Benefits of recycling
Classifying and recycling materials is the most beneficial process of dealing with waste. The negative effects of burning or burying cannot be overemphasized. Implementation of waste reprocess and reduction techniques would reduce the pressure we create on landfills. The amount of waste being produced would be commonly low.
The energy required for the production of recycled goods is a small fraction of the overall energy used in the manufacture of raw products. Recycling a metal will also mean that there would be reduced extraction and mining.
The production of fumes associated with natural ores is significantly reduced (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 239). The cost of recycling is also cheaper than most forms of waste disposal which intensify the garbage predicament. Dumping and collection costs are constantly being raised, hence the preference for commercial salvaging.
The present world is faced with complex environmental problems, and there is general misinformation on environmental concepts. Advances in technology are aligned to the production of waste, prompting stakeholders in the supply chain to ensure efficiency throughout the process. Advocates of environmental consciousness must strive to stop the complex explanations, and focus more on unvarnished terms which will give Americans an easy description of what is expected of them.
Chiras, D. Environmental science. (8th ed). Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010 pp 463-465
Galbraith, K. & Richtell M. Back at junk value, recyclables are piling up. The New York Times; Business. 2008. Web.
Hawkins, G. The ethics of waste: how we relate to rubbish. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2006 pp 7-9
Kreith, F. & Tchobanoglous, G. Handbook of solid waste management. (2nd ed). New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2002. pp 9.1-9.3
Makower, J. WITTs, YOYOs, and why Americans don’t go green. WORLD CHANGING: Change your thinking. October 23, 2006. Web. July 21, 2010. Web.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD environmental outlook. Paris: OECD publishing, 2001. Pp 239-247