Waste Facts

26th November 2012

By far the biggest contributor to the solid waste stream is mining waste (72.3%), followed by pulverized fuel ash (6.7%), agricultural waste (6.1%), urban waste (4.5%) and sewage sludge (3.6%) (van der Merwe & Vosloo, 1992).

Estimated decomposition rates of most debris found are:

• Foamed plastic cups: 50 years
• Plastic beverage holder: 400 years
• Disposable diapers: 450 year
• Plastic bottle: 450 years
• Fishing line: 600 years.
• Glass bottle 1 million years
• Aluminium can: 80-200 years
• Plastic beverage bottles: 450 years
• Boot sole: 50-80 years
• Tin can: 50 years
• Leather: 50 years
• Nylon fabric: 30-40 years
• Plastic film canister: 20-30 years
• Plastic bag: 10-20 years (???)
• Cigarette filter: 1-5 years
• Wool sock: 1-5 years
• Plywood: 1-3 years
• Waxed milk carton: 3 months
• Apple core: 2 months
• Newspaper: 6 weeks
• Paper : 2 to 5 months
• Banana peel : 2-5 weeks
• Orange peel : 6 months
• Paper towel: 2-4 weeks
• Batteries : 100 years

http://coastalcare.org/2009/11/plastic-pollution/ : Useful website with lots of facts about plastic and how the decomposition thereof can have greater negative impacts than the item itself.

Recycling statistics on paper

•  Forests are being cut and trees are being felled at an unimaginable rate of 100 acres per minute. All this to produce paper which is normally used and disposed without much thought.
•  A plant takes a minimum of 15 to 20 years to grow into a tree, but takes less than ten minutes to be felled, and on an average one tree can yield about 700 paper grocery bags, which will be consumed in less than an hour by a supermarket!
•  According to The Public Recycling Officials of Pennsylvania, for every ton of paper that is recycled, the following are saved:
• 17 trees
• 275 pounds of sulfur
• 350 pounds of limestone
• 9,000 pounds of steam
• 60,000 gallons of water
• 225 kilowatt hours
• 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space
•  Energy used to recycle paper is close to 70% less than when paper is prepared using virgin wood and other raw material.
•  Recycling 14 trees worth of paper reduces air pollutants by 165,142 tons.
Recycling statistics on plastic
•  Almost every hour, nearly 250,000 plastic bottles are dumped. It is not surprising that plastic bottles constitute close to 50% of recyclable waste in the dumps.
•  The average time taken by plastic bottles to decompose in a landfill is close to 700 years.
•  Plastic not only adds to landfill space and takes forever to decompose. Used plastic dumped into the sea kills and destroys sea life at an estimated 1,000,000 sea creatures per year!
Recycling statistics on glass
•  Glass is one of the very few products that can be completely recycled again and again. But most often times, it ends up in landfills and never decomposes.
•  There is an increased demand for recycled glass referred to as “cullet” in the glass industry. This is because cullet or recycled glass costs much less than raw material used to manufacture glass from scratch. Cullet also consumes very little electricity, thereby conserving energy, which translates to decrease in carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which are greenhouse gases that contribute to the carbon footprint.
•  Glass and plastic take the longest to decompose but are completely recyclable, therefore, it is important to purchase, recycle, and reuse both glass and plastic products. If one can replace both these with any other recyclable or biodegradable products one must certainly invest in the same!
Recycling statistics on styrofoam
•  A Styrofoam coffee cup discarded today will remain in landfill space for close to 500 years. This is because it does not get decomposed easily, ie. it is not bio-degradable. Therefore, it is advisable to say, “No,” to Styrofoam products.
Fact on recycling water
•  The most abused and wasted natural resource is water.
•  Water is a very precious resource and needs to be used carefully. There are several countries in the world, where people still do not have clean drinking water. Therefore, one must use water carefully and in moderation.
Recycling statistics on metals
•  World-famous chocolate manufacturer, Hershey Chocolate Company, in manufacturing 20,000,000 Hershey’s kisses (every day), uses about 133 square miles of aluminum to wrap the chocolates. This aluminum wrap is recyclable, but most of this recyclable aluminum reaches the trash cans instead of recycle bins, because people often enjoy the chocolate but don’t think about the recyclable aluminum wrap!
•  One of the materials that is easiest and fastest to recycle is aluminum. Aluminum cans can be recycled and reused within 60 days.
•  Used aluminum cans can be recycled and used in various products like vehicle parts, sliding shutters for windows and doors, etc.
•  Recycling aluminum saves money, energy, and manpower because preparing aluminum products from virgin metal consumes close to 100 times the power required to recycle aluminum. If all aluminum produced is regularly recycled, the energy saved is enough to light up a medium-sized city for close to five years!
•  Steel is another metal that can be recycled completely and can save tones of iron ore, coal, and energy. Therefore, it is very important to recycle steel and aluminum. Both metals can be recycled and reused repeatedly.
•  Four pounds of bauxite can be saved with every pound of aluminum recycled.
Other recycling statistics and facts
•  United States is one of world’s largest producers of trash. Trash is produced at an alarming rate of 1,609 pounds of trash per person, per year.
•  For every product purchased, nearly 10% of the finished product contains packing material which is normally dumped. But if this packaging material is recycled, it will save tons of paper, lots of energy, money, human resource, and time.
•  Nearly 60 to 70% of waste found in dustbins can be recycled and reused and close to 50% of the same waste can be composted.
•  Recycling tin, glass, and plastic containers or bottles can conserve energy to power light bulbs for 3 to 4 hours.
•  It will go a long way in saving power if everyone decides to switch off idle electronic gadgets like TVs, microwave ovens, DVD and CD players that are not being used.
•  Fossil fuels are burnt to generate electricity for homes and industries, to extract raw materials from the earth and to drive productions lines. In turn, close to 75% of the yearly rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is from the burning of fossil fuels.
•  One of the most effective ways of saving energy is by using compact fluorescent light bulbs or CFL bulbs because they generate the same intensity of light but consume three times less power when compared to regular bulbs.
•  Though recycling was initiated as a practice in the 1800s there are millions of people on this planet who do not understand the meaning of recycling.

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