Our Waste Problem

We have a waste problem.  According to the World Bank, global solid waste generation is increasing from more than 3.5 million tonnes per day in 2010 to more than 6 million tonnes per day by 2025.

What is Waste?

Waste is unwanted, unused materials that go in the trash. This usually ends up in landfill, as pollution or incinerated towards energy recovery.

A landfill is a site for waste disposal by burial.  Trash is buried and piled, kept dry and has no contact with air, therefore it does not decompose the majority of the time.  However when it does decompose, it causes air pollution, because methane gas (a greenhouse gas) is released.  Landfills can also cause highly toxic chemicals to leach into the groundwater when it rains, leading to contamination of the groundwater and can end up in our waterways.

What are the Different Forms of Waste?

Waste comes in all shapes and forms – below is a table of different types of waste.

Types of Waste and Examples 

World Economic Forum, What A Waste, A Global Review of Solid Waste Management

Type of Waste Example
Organic Food scraps, yard (leaves, grass) waste, wood, process residues
Paper Paper scraps, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, bags, boxes,

wrapping paper, telephone books, shredded paper, paper beverage cups. Strictly speaking paper is organic but

unless it is contaminated by food residue, paper is not classified as organic.

Plastic Bottles, packaging, containers, bags, lids, cups
Glass Bottles, broken glassware, light bulbs, coloured glass
Metal Cans, foil, tins, non-hazardous aerosol cans, appliances (white goods), railings, bicycles
Other Textiles, leather, rubber, multi-laminates, e-waste, appliances, ash, other inert materials

A lot of waste can be recycled, however some are simply not bothered to sort their trash or their local community has no recycling facilities. Read more about how recycling is good but not good enough to be environmentally sustainable here.


Trash, especially plastics, end up in the earth’s natural environment -in fields, forests, rivers, usually ending up in our waterways and then the sea. This may be due to  human beings who simply create trash and throw it wherever they please – from their car window or on the floor.

After assessing how much waste we create, we can learn how to create less waste.

We hope that by reading our other articles, you can learn how to reduce your waste!



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