Achieving Global Goal with Waste Management
Municipal solid waste, the disposal of everyday items discarded by the public, continues to be an ongoing problem especially within urban areas. According to Statista, estimations suggest that by 2030, municipal solid waste could potentially reach 2.59 billion metric tons, and by 2050, 3.4 billion metric tons. The escalating volume of excess waste poses multifaceted threats to the urban population, encompassing concerns related to well-being, environmental, and economic issues. To effectively address this formidable challenge, entities should actively engage in comprehensive waste management strategies to foster the creation of more habitable and sustainable cities.
Municipal solid waste generated in urban areas is being disposed of in various ways to preserve the environment and the public health of the city’s inhabitants. One of the most common waste disposal methods involves landfills. In this process, waste materials are isolated from the city and buried in designated areas. However, it is important to note that this method can have negative effects on the environment, human health, and wildlife, as it may release chemicals or hazardous particles that pollute the surroundings. Another prevalent waste management technique is incineration or combustion, whereby waste materials are burned at high temperatures, leading to high amounts of residue and gaseous by-products. While incineration can significantly reduce waste volume, it is important to acknowledge that it is also a major contributor to carbon emissions, which have adverse environmental consequences. In contrast, the approach of recovery and recycling has gained significant traction in recent years. This process involves the extraction, recovery, or conversion of materials from discarded items to generate other forms of useable energy such as heat, electricity, or fuel. By converting non-recyclable waste items into valuable energy sources, recovery and recycling are considered renewable energy methods, playing a pivotal role in lowering carbon emissions by reducing the reliance on energy derived from fossil fuels. Thus, it stands out as the most environmentally sound options for waste management.
SOUTH KOREA: SUDOKWON LANDFILL
The Sudokwon Landfill Site in South Korea is a globally renowned waste treatment complex, comprising a landfill site, a 50 MW landfill gas power plant, and an environmental energy town that generates roughly 2.61 million Gcal annually. Additionally, it harnesses over 500 tons of food waste to produce biogas, which is sufficient to power more than 81,000 vehicles annually. Within the Sudokwon site, a rehabilitated landfill has been converted into an eco-park known as Dream Park, offering recreational activities for the public that generates an annual revenue of $19 million. Notably, the Sudokwon landfill also serves as a hub for smart technology solutions and exemplifies best practices in solid waste management, setting a standard for adoption in neighboring countries within the region.
Waste management is a crucial component of addressing the problem, but it represents just one aspect of a larger process. To achieve global sustainability goals, it is imperative for all stakeholders to play their part in waste reduction, spanning sustainable production, responsible consumption, and effective waste management. The Sudokwon Landfill Site stands as a prime example of how waste management facilities can extend their contributions to society beyond the mere management of waste, fostering tangible positive impact on the environment. Initiating waste reduction at the source, with an emphasis on sustainable materials in production and the responsible consumption of sustainable products throughout their entire life cycle, is the fundamental approach to address the root causes behind the increasing waste volume. To effectively address this issue, both consumers and businesses must collaborate to reduce waste, thereby taking meaningful steps toward a GREATer, more sustainable future.
Priding ourselves on sharing GREAT insights to society, we will continue to publish FREE content for ALL readers to uplift their knowledge and go from Good to GREAT!