We live in a throwaway society, so does it matter if we don’t give scrap metal value and just put it in the garbage bin?
It used to be a commonly held view that we can put our trash in a hole in the ground and just forget about it, but this attitude is not sustainable.
For a start – we have been filling these holes in the ground for so long, there soon won’t be any room left in them.
In the US, for example, a report last year said the country will run out of landfill space by 2036, creating an “environmental disaster”.
Canada is facing similar problems – Ontario landfilled 8 million tonnes of its waste in 2017 and sent a further 3.5 million tonnes to the US to be dumped.
Recycling not landfilling
Nobody wants to live next door to a landfill either, as they’re an ugly sight, they smell and can also be dangerous if liquid from the garbage seeps into the nearby water courses.
So, no government is going to start building more rubbish dumps to cope with what we throw away.
But the fact we are running out of places to put our garbage shouldn’t be the only reason we start thinking about recycling and giving scrap metal value instead of landfilling it.
The Danish-based World Counts organization gives some stark facts about the impact of not recycling items such as aluminum cans and bottles has on our planet.
For a start, it takes just 5% of the energy needed to dig up and create a new product from ore to recycle an aluminum can and use that again instead.
In total, about 105 million cans are recycled a year across the world which is enough to build 70,000 Boeing 737 airplanes – almost ten times the number ever built.
The World Counts also says that by recycling aluminum cans and not making new ones from scratch, enough energy is saved to power 4.4 million homes across Europe for a year.
And only about half of the cans made are currently recycled – just think about what can be achieved if we recycle them all.
Putting a high scrap metal value on aluminum is one way to help save the planet’s resources of which we are using up at a rate that is not sustainable.
Earth Overshoot Day was launched to illustrate the day each year when people use up more resources than our planet has the capability to generate in that year.
If everyone lived like people in Qatar, it would be 11 February each year, while the day for Canadians is 18 March.
For Brazil it’s 31 July, Egypt 25 November, Myanmar 25 December and smaller countries do not use more than is available to them in any given year.
As a collective, the earth reaches its overshoot day each year around July, showing the need to cut the strain we put on it.
Finding new solutions
But such data isn’t new – the World Wildlife Fund (now known as the World Wide Fund for Nature) said as far back as 2002 that if we keep consuming at the rate we are, by 2050, we will be using up 220% of the earth’s biological capacity.
These facts and figures illustrate that we must think of new innovative, environmentally-friendly ways to deal with our garbage, otherwise we will run out of both space and resources.
Physicist Albert Einstein may not have lived to face these issues, but his words are as relevant while dealing with this challenge as anything else: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”