2.12 Billion Tonnes. That is the amount of waste that we dump into the world’s landfills in a year.
As we said in our ‘Join the league of New Heroes’ film; to put that into perspective, that’s enough garbage to fill trucks that could go bumper to bumper around the world 24 times. And that’s only in one year.
CO2 emissions from landfills is the one the biggest factors contributing to Climate change. Unless we find ways to both reduce and manage waste, the world that our next generations will inherit will indeed be an unstable and dangerous one.
While the mega cities around the world are responsible for most of the waste, one city-state is setting the example for change. Consider this…
Of the trash generated in the US,13% is burned for energy, 34% is recycled and 53% ends up in landfills. In Europe, 26% of waste is burned for energy, 43% is recycled and 31% goes into landfills. Now compare this with the small island state of Singapore.
In Singapore, 38% of the waste generated is burned for energy, 60% is recycled and 2% goes to Landfills. That’s right… while the rest of the world is being overwhelmed with how to handle waste, quaint little Singapore has managed to figure our way so that only 2% of its garbage ends up in landfills.
Back in 2000, Singapore was generating 7600 tons of waste a day, nearly 600% higher than what it was generating 30 years earlier. As the onshore landfills started running out of space, the city state decided to implement new measures to correct this problem.
In 2001, the government began working on a program to increase recycle rates. A landfill was built on the island of Semakau on land reclaimed from the sea. A new collection system was introduced where households and industry were made the main stake holders. Singapore also started incinerating waste, with a view to generate electricity and reduce waste going into landfills. There are four waste-to-energy plants that contribute to 3% of the electricity needs and recycling rates are at 60%.
By 2019 the country will build a fifth waste-to-energy plant and plans to bring all types of waste-handling under one roof to increase energy efficiency and recover maximum resources from waste.
It’s a model that other cities would do well to emulate. But there is a bigger lesson to learn from Singapore.
What made Singapore’s recycling programs efficient was not just the fact that the government took proactive steps, but more importantly that residents became part of the change. To work towards climate change, each one of us will need to adopt a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mentality.
At New Globe Traveller, we are promoting the idea of creating premium products from waste. Leather pieces along with disposed tyre inner tubes that would otherwise have ended up in landfills are being used to hand craft, luxury bags. It’s a small initiative and we hope to introduce several innovative product ranges using the same concept so that new age consumers don’t have to compromise on quality when buying eco friendly products. Click here to read how our upcycled bags are made.