4 Ideas That Countries Can Implement To Re-engineer Their Waste


4 Ideas That Countries Can Implement To Re-engineer Their Waste

        Trash is everywhere, in our oceans, in our landfills, and sometimes on our roadsides. Trash is devastating for the environment. It is proven that plastics negatively impact marine life. Additionally, food waste also adds Methane to the atmosphere, and landfills cause toxic chemicals to leak into the ground, poisoning groundwater. Re-engineering means to take a product and modify it for another purpose that is useful to us humans. Trash is not useless as it can be re-engineered for a purpose, rather than ending up in our landfills and oceans. So here are 5 ideas that countries can implement to re-purpose their waste. 

  1. New Roads: A lot of the stuff people throw out are plastics. Plastic is derived from crude oil. Roads are paved with very similar stuff that is called bitumen, which is a petroleum-based binding agent in asphalt. The waste plastic is turned into pellets that are melted and converted into bitumen. Afterward, it is mixed with the asphalt, and voila, you got a road that saves the planet. The US company MacReber claims that for every 10 tons of asphalt made, 71,432 plastic bottles or 435,592 plastic bags are re-engineered, which is a staggering statistic. With the number of potholes and damaged roads that I see every day, I am confident that we can easily keep plastic out of the oceans.

  1. Better all-natural fertilizer: Now, this is an obvious one, composting. There is no better way to use organic waste. Large scale composting can be implemented by countries and can result in high quantities of natural fertilizer for farms, and this is a product that can be exported globally. Modern fertilizer is terrible as it contains all kinds of chemicals and additives. Most end up leaching into the ground causing damage to the environment. Organic compost is way better for the environment, and far easier to produce. Imagine this, cities collecting organic waste in special containers. The waste is then scanned, via metal detectors and such to make sure that it is only 100% organic waste. This is to make sure nothing bad gets in it. Afterward, the waste then goes to a compost type landfill. The waste is then eaten by worms and other critters. After some time passes and nature does its course the organic waste turns into usable fertilizer. It is then graded and sold to farmers at a cost-effective price that allows for-profit for the government. This process is like a complete cycle by design, which makes it a highly effective waste management strategy that governments can implement.

  1. Home Heating: Yes, this involves burning trash. Hear me out, so the idea is to burn trash and convert it into electricity. Yes, I know that toxic chemicals and CO2 will be released when burning trash. There are ways to prevent this toxic mixture from going into the atmosphere. For one, filter and capture devices can be installed containing the gases from going into the atmosphere. Another solution is to sequester the gases, which is to collect and deposit these gases into the ground. Such a solution needs to be done with care to keep the environment safe and prevent toxicity in our water sources. Now, why is this a good opportunity? Well, waste can be repurposed as electricity and heat. This allows for the transition from fossil fuels. Which, by comparison, produces way more CO2 and causes massive damage to the environment. Quite frankly we produce so much waste that it can easily be implemented in the energy and heat production for our cities. It is a sustainable long term solution. We get rid of our waste and get electricity and heating in return. A country that has implemented this is Austria. Austria takes 70,000 tonnes of trash from Italy and converts it into electricity. Countries, like Italy, have to pay a lot of money to other countries to deal with their waste. I feel like the first country that starts this trash to electricity model can make a lot of money. This allows for eco-friendly technology to be implemented to help recoup from the downsides of burning garbage.

  1. Retrieving materials from electronic waste: You have probably seen a video about someone taking a circuit board and chemically removing the gold off of it. Our idea is very similar as it takes all kinds of electronic waste and separates them by type of material. Materials like silicon, gold, copper, silver, and iron can ideally be recovered. Through a series of chemical processes, the electronic components will be turned into metals and materials in their pure form. Now initially, this is not profitable, but on a large scale, it is very profitable. This type of waste usually ends up in landfills, by acquiring large amounts of e-waste, large quantities of metals and materials can be produced in a very cost-effective way. Buying chemicals in bulk is way cheaper. Recouping these metals allows us to solve two issues: E-waste in landfills and the need to mine for more materials.   

The saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. By re-engineering trash, we can solve many of the problems we face. Sure, it is difficult to get such ideas to happen, but when looking at the long term, these projects bring such great rewards for both the planet and the economy. Like any idea, the good comes with some bad, and it is important to use technology and innovation to help mitigate this bad for the sake of the environment.