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Waste Management > The Answer To Wasting Waste

Do you ever wonder what becomes of your trash? Like most people, you probably don’t, reason why so much garbage is found where it should not. Oceans are no place for such materials, & landfills eventually fill up. With 750 million tons of garbage each year, we may end up buried in our own waste, as there is only so much the planet can take. Good news: 80% of what is being thrown away could be recycled. Sad reality: too much waste is therefore being wasted.


The average American produces about {{LNK|4.6 pounds of trash per person per day|http://www.learner.org/interactives/garbage/solidwaste.html}} - or about « 10 times their body weight in trash each year » - while the average Chinese statistic gets close to 1.65. Yet the national result is quite similar, due to demography, with 250 million tons of trash a year in the US vs. 254 million in China. Put it together and the two giants produce about 2/3 of all the waste on Earth.

If about 80% of what is generally thrown away in the US is recyclable, only 28% actually is taken care of. Out of 51 billion plastic bottles used, only 1 out of 5 is recycled. Americans throw away enough aluminum “for the entire auto industry to build new cars for a year”. It is estimated the average family throws away 6 trees worth of paper per year.

Besides polluting, occupying space and remaining a major disturbance for the environment, a significant share of all this trash ends up in what is called {{LNK|the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch|http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/oceanography/great-pacific-garbage-patch.htm}}. The term refers to the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, two large masses composed of million pounds of “ever-accumulating trash” – {{LNK|90% of which is plastic|http://www.latimes.com/news/local/oceans/la-me-ocean2aug02,0,3130914.story}}. 70% of that plastic ends up sinking, and damaging the ocean floor, while the rest eventually gathers and forms gyres. These sadly constitute the largest landfill in the world.

As suggested on the info graphic, waste management can in many ways help reducing the amount of trash throughout the planet, and even turn it into major profit: quoting {{LNK|Waste Management|http://www.wm.com/index.jsp}} CEO David Steiner, "{{LNK|Extracting Value from Waste|http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/03/david-steiner-waste-management-leadership-managing-reiss.html}} has become a new business model for many waste and environmental services businesses, but also for companies that are increasingly required to assume their waste." Plastic waste management alone generates no less than $10 billion profits a year, {{LNK|waste-to-energy treatments|http://www.getenergyaware.org/energy-waste-energy.asp}} such as burning trash for steam has saved an estimated 150 million barrels of oil over 30 years, and companies like {{LNK|WM|http://www.wm.com/index.jsp}} announce {{LNK|annual revenues of over $11 billion a year|http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/03/david-steiner-waste-management-leadership-managing-reiss.html}}. The juice is worth the squeeze... Indeed.

“Whether it's recycling them, putting them into the product cycle, or extracting energy from them”, waste items nowadays have value, and we can only hope more and more big corporations - such as {{LNK|McDonald's and Starbucks|https://www.wizness.com/wizness/go.asp?u=/pub/NP&nid=473&lngWiz=EN}} for instance - will start realizing it. Waste is not wasted for everybody…


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