Australians who are serious about waste disposal and recycling probably already have an idea about what green waste is. For the rest of us, green waste refers to most types of biological waste, specifically the type of waste that can be composted.
Green waste disposal is quite an important issue in Australia these days. Given the capacity crisis faced by landfills throughout the country and an overburdened rubbish disposal system, Australians are now being urged to reduce the waste they produce right at the source. And what better place to start than with the green waste we produce in our very homes?
According to Compost Week, up to half of all waste produced by Australian households is compostable. The types of waste referred to as “green waste” in Australia include fresh lawn and garden trimmings as well as kitchen and food waste.
Considering how much of the rubbish we produce is compostable, we can easily reduce our impact on our overloaded waste disposal systems by being smart with our organic waste.
Some types of biological waste cannot be safely composted, even if they technically can be used for that purpose, including used cat litter and disposable baby nappies. Medical waste and waste that has already gone putrid may not be safe for disposal with other green waste. Most other types of biological waste, however, qualifies.
It’s worth noting that others may add a different category – brown waste – to refer to carbon-rich waste like dried leaves, twigs, paper, hay, and sawdust. Generally speaking, however, these are still compostable and often classified as green waste.
So how do we dispose of green waste? Here are the most common methods used today.
1.) Landfill disposal
Landfill disposal is generally considered to be the worst way to handle green waste aside from just leaving it where it lies and should be considered more of a necessary evil than it is a solution.
Nevertheless, this is the most straightforward way to dispose of green waste. Green waste collected by public kerbside rubbish collection services may end up in a recycling centre, but chances are that it will go straight to a landfill due to a lack of capacity or some other reason.
Waste that ends up in landfills has very little chance of being directly repurposed and may be spread into the environment by birds, rodents, and other small creatures that find their way into landfill sites.
2.) Green waste recycling/composting
Green waste that is sent to the correct facilities can be manufactured into valuable agricultural products and used to solve other waste management issues.
Sewage contains some deadly pathogens that can pose a serious risk to water supplies if allowed to be released directly into rivers and oceans, as was traditionally done. Green waste can be mixed with sewage to prevent sewage from posing an active risk to the environment. The pathogens are neutralised in this mix and the resulting sludge could then be composted and used as fertiliser.
Fertiliser and chemical manufacturing
Green waste can, of course, be used to manufacture fertiliser directly. In many cases, you can even compost the waste yourself, reducing your impact on the environment and local waste disposal system.
Another use for green waste is to manufacture chemicals, including petroleum product replacements. This may become a major use for green waste in the future, given Australia’s reliance on petrol imports.
However, if you produce a significant amount of green waste, you may just want to rent a skip bin service to handle this type of waste specifically. You can use a skip bin price comparison site like Skip Compare to find a service that can regularly take on green waste at a rate you can afford.
Open backyard burning can release a significant amount of toxic chemicals in the air as well as greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, so we don’t recommend you do it.
While it was one of the most common ways of dealing with rubbish only a generation or so ago, burning rubbish by yourself is illegal in Australia, so we don’t recommend you do it. Open backyard burning can release a significant amount of toxic chemicals in the air as well as greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
However, there are industrial and commercial incinerators that do burn organic waste without having too much of an adverse effect on the environment. They are typically used for disposing of dangerous biological waste and are not as common in Australia as they are in other countries, where they are often used for power generation.
It should be noted that the incinerators that do exist here have to follow stringent environmental standards in their construction and operation, which makes them far more sustainable and not directly comparable with common backyard burning.
Considering how much of the rubbish we produce is compostable, we can easily reduce our impact on our overloaded waste disposal systems by being smart with our organic waste. While rubbish segregation remains key, we also have to think beyond it and consider what we can do to reduce our rubbish at the source.
Which green waste disposal methods do you use?
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