EFFECTIVE COMMERCIAL WASTE DISPOSAL IN MELBOURNE
Fun fact; did you know that improper waste disposal can lead to a number of serious health and environmental issues? We tend not to pay too much attention to it, especially since it’s hard seeing the impact on a global scale when we’re pretty much limited to our backyard – with a possible extension of up to the neighbourhood communal dumpster – but it’s real and it’s serious. Ezy Skip Bins Melbourne is commited to renewable waste management across Victoria.
There may be no direct correlation, but that doesn’t change the fact that letting the factory’s burn your week’s worth of garbage can trigger an asthma attack in the skinny little boy down the street, or that dumping your trash in an open landfill can render a patch of farming land barren and unusable.
Air pollution, soil contamination, and infected water are just some of the adverse effects of indifference and misinformation – or lack thereof. If we want to shape up as a collective community of people who want to live on this earth, effective waste disposal has to be a priority.
Thankfully, here in Melbourne, it is.
THE PROBLEM WITH COMMERCIAL WASTE
The challenge with commercial waste in Melbourne is that there’s just so much of it. Here are some numbers for you: studies show that Melbourne currently produces and manages about 10.3 million tonnes of waste each year. More than half of that – 76%, in fact – comes from the commercial sector. 44% of that percentage comes from the construction and demolition of commercial and residential buildings. Waste from government agencies, schools, manufacturers, hospitals and enterprises make up the remaining 32%.
The good news is that Melbourne currently recycles 73% of its waste overall – that’s about 7.5 million tonnes of waste recycled, which definitely makes a different. The bad news is that leaves us with about 27% of waste. The same study shows that valuable materials are still being dumped into landfills due to negligence, overwhelming volume, poor segregation, or miscommunication.
An estimated 42% of commercial and household waste that go into landfills are categorized as “food and garden waste” – meaning they could still be reused as fertilizer or compost. Materials such as paper, metals, and plastics (recyclable substances in their own right) are also just thrown into junkyards or buried beneath other mounds of trash.
Add all the numbers up and what do you get? Proof that Melbourne is not quite there yet – but they’re on their way.
EFFECTIVE DISPOSAL METHODS
Recycling – part of the holy eco-friendly trinity – is by far one of the best and safest methods of handling commercial waste. A good chunk of copy paper, photocopied memos, legal pad sheets, and standard A4’s get thrown away by the business and corporate sector every day. Thankfully, these pieces of “scrap” paper can be sent to one of Melbourne’s many recycling centers and are turned back into usable, saleable material.
Co-mingled recycling – which falls under general recycling – is thought to be one of the more versatile services as far as recycling goes. It collects aluminium cans, plastic bottles, steel cans, Tetrapaks, glass bottles, and cartons all in one skip bin. These are later sorted out in facilities and segregation centers. A study conducted by the Waste & Resources Action Programme back in 2005 showed that more people participated in recycling when the city switched to co-mingled. Clearly household and business owners can separate their waste into the most basic – recyclables, biodegradables, non-biodegradables – but specificity takes up time they can’t afford. Hence the switch – and the stay – over to co-mingled.
While incineration is a questionable method in some cities, Melbourne practices safe incineration: proper segregation and inspection is observed before the waste is taken to be burned. Incineration – also known as thermal treatment – is the process of exposing waste to high temperatures to convert it to gaseous forms – heat, steam, gas – or to ash.
This method is most effective when disposing solid or liquid waste as long as the waste in question is harmless i.e. it won’t release any harmful chemicals or gaseous pollutants into the atmosphere when burned. As long as these parameters are met, incineration can prove to be practical and very efficient in freeing up space without resorting to burying, dumping, composting, or compacting. Incineration is the preferred method in countries where land is not readily available – like Japan or Singapore. While Melbourne has plenty of land to spare, safe incineration is still one of the best commercial waste disposal methods.
Document shredding doesn’t exactly fall under recycling, but it’s definitely related. As the name suggests, papers are shredded into thin strips and then compacted together. This is the preferred method of dealing with dry paper for two reasons.
One; it gives corporations a sense of security. Throwing away whole, unshredded documents containing sensitive company information will make any business owner or CEO uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter how outdated the information is; as long as it was once even remotely important, the thought of anyone being able to pick it up and restore makes a businessman’s stomach turn. Ergo, shredding documents past the point of restoration, and then later on mixing them with other shredded documents, gives the company a level of security that other methods cannot.
Secondly, it drastically reduces the space general waste can take up. Analysts agree that paper shredding can reduce waste volume by up to 75% or more – especially when compacted. The lesser the volume, the lesser the space, the more efficient the management and segregation process.