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.....the more wealth, the more waste?
It is still true that large scale industrial production has a negative environmental impact; the amount of energy it consumes, the kind of material it uses, the nature of the chemicals it employs, the type of airborne emissions it produces, the solid and liquid waste it generates - together cause severe ecological damage. The environmental cost of many current economic practices still unsustainable and are at the very base of our ever-growing ecological crisis. Emissions, from energy sources and production processes contribute to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and inflict damage to the ozone layer. Resistant chemicals carried into the environment in the form of waste not only produce initial ecological damage but remain active for a very long time.
Upon mobilization such toxic substances (heavy metals such as chrome, lead, mercury, etc.), migrate for example into waterways that are fished. Ultimately, such substances find their way into the food chain. Other forms of non-biodegradable waste, even when not toxic, still pose a major problem as these are stored on landfills. Landfills are filled up with such substances. Such waste takes up space - land that can otherwise be used more efficiently, but instead becomes infertile. Furthermore, landfills are not an eternal entity, they require maintenance and ultimately will have to be substituted or even relocated due aging. In any case, a landfill is a burden left to fix for the next generation.
Annual amount of waste produced in
the provinces of ex-W-Germany
Since hiding waste underground relocates troubles into the future, burning waste
distributes (dilutes) toxins into the air, and are eventually washed out into the water soil, while aggravating
greenhouse gas emissions even further.
Thus, the best "clean and green" practices regard prevention of waste and the use of renewable energy
sources, such as hydropower, photovoltaic and solar power plants, renewable raw materials such as
plantation timber, and recycled materials in general (plastic, metal, glass, etc.). Although these practices
generate likewise harmful emissions and waste, the extent of damage is significantly lower than entirely
relying on fossil fuel and on the unearthing of unprocessed ore. The impact upon ecosystems, the
environment in general, and in the end on us is much more limited.
Based on these principles, we are better able to reduce or even eliminate that
which we do not need while maintaining existing living standards. The concept of reusing materials
that still have "life" in it, and recycling brings us closer to the concepts evident in real ecosystems.
As ideal as this approach may sound, the recycling industry does generate extra
pollution during collection, transport, and processing. Keeping in mind that these extra trucks and
train-loads would otherwise convey their load directly to the incinerator or onto the landfills, it is
probably of a lesser extent than relying exclusively on prime material for most industrial processes.
And as a positive side-effect, the recycling industry is generating a vast range of extra jobs in the
logistic and high tech sector as well as in the manual labour segment.
The following pages (listed in the menu bar on the left hand side), should provide the extra information required in order to improve the recycling capabilities of consumers. It is the aim of these pages to show the reader the importance of the waste management crises that we face and that RECYCLING does make a difference.
Thomè-Kozmiensky K. 1995; Verfahren & Stoffkreislaufwirtschaft, Enzyklopädie; EFVerlag für Energie und Umwelttechnik, Berlin - FRG
Thomè-Kozmiensky K. 1995; Biologische Abfallbehandlung, Enzyklopädie; EFVerlag für Energie und Umwelttechnik, Berlin - FRG
Hansen J.A. 1996; Management of Urban Biodegradable Wastes; James & James Science Publishers Ltd; London - UK
Tiltman, Strnad 1996; Recycling und Abfallbehandlung; Dworak - Weka, Vienna - AT
For additional information visit the following web-sites: