Where Does Our Trash Go?

Sometimes people wonder where all the large amounts of trash go. Do they disappear into thin air or are thrown into the ocean? Are they just dumped by a junk removal service at some place and left to decompose? Or aliens swoop down when no one is watching and spirit them away. It is indeed a puzzling question: where does our trash go? First, we shall begin with the various types or classifications of trash we have. Trash is waste we no longer need in our homes, offices, schools, etc.

Types of Trash

  • Liquid Trash 

Trash is not just limited to the junk we throw out of the yard or the items which did not get sold off during the last yard sale. It could be the dirty water we dispose of after laundry and even the water from the bathroom after our bath. It is even the water we flush our feces with and all other liquid substances we dispose of when we no longer have use for them.

  • Industrial Trash

This is the type of trash that factories, industries, and companies emit. They are sometimes considered hazardous as they can harm the environment due to their chemical composition. This trash can contain mercury, gasoline, pool chemicals, etc.

  • Solid Waste

Solid trash, as the name implies, is waste that is solid as opposed to industrial and liquid. Many types of trash fall under this category; some are biodegradable, while others are non-biodegradable. Biodegradable trash is waste that can be broken down or decomposed by microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and other living things. The trash in this category includes cotton, wood, wool, etc. On the other hand, non-biodegradable wastes are substances that cannot be broken down or decomposed by microorganisms. They include glass, batteries, plastics, carbon paper, metal, wooden plants, etc.

The trash, as expounded on above, is of different classifications, so they do not all go to the same place.

Where Does Our Trash Go?

1. Into the Soil

Some trash goes into the soil. These are primarily biodegradable waste discarded carelessly, and over time microorganisms and other environmental factors act on them. They slowly or rapidly decompose and become part of the organic composition in the soil. Non-biodegradable trash, on the other hand, can still be found on the earth, but it will not be decomposed but rather be buried underneath the ground. 

2. Into the Atmosphere

Waste, such as industrial trash, is released into the atmosphere. This is because they are primarily chemicals that comprise gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Debris such as these disappears into thin air.

3. In the Sewer

This is an underground network of facilities designed to hold waste from bathrooms and toilets. So, liquid wastes from houses, offices, and schools end up in the sewer.

4. Landfills

These are also where trash goes. A landfill is a facility that is developed to contain waste as a measure of protecting the environment against land pollution and contamination. This is where most trash ends. When we throw away our garbage into the dumpsters, and the ministry of environment picks it up, they most likely end up in landfills. What happens to our trash in landfills is interesting and similar to what happens to biodegradable waste in the soil. 

Trash undergoes decomposition in landfills. In contemporary landfills, trash is deposited and tightly sealed into a rubber and clay barrier lined to prevent liquids from oozing out. The trash stored here undergoes decomposition slowly over time because the primary aim of landfills is to keep waste. Chemicals are not added to aid in decomposition in any way. The trash in landfills is sometimes recycled or incinerated.

Landfills have the major disadvantage of reaching maximum storage capacity early and becoming an environmental hazard eventually. 

5. Incinerators 

An incinerator refers to a furnace simply. Trash could also go to incinerators or waste incinerators. Waste incinerators dispose of debris by combustion and convert them into ash, flue gas, and heat. This is an alternative to landfill in terms of storage space. However, incinerators are bound to release toxins into the atmosphere.     

6. Recycled Products

Trash also ends up as recycled products. This is the healthiest, safest, and most cost-effective way for trash to go. Over the years, the amount of trash produced by countries worldwide has increased tremendously. This is a result of industrialization. In the US, trash is produced by millions of people, and this is also what happens in other parts of the world. The country has 4.5 pounds of waste each day.

Trash is primarily items such as furniture, staples, clothing, electrical appliances, etc. These cannot end up in landfills, so they are recycled. Recycling means to reuse or make a substance available for reuse through a series of biological or chemical changes. So in a word, recycling means to reuse or recover. So, trash can end up as recycled products. Millions of products available today come from formerly disposed of trash.

Recycling has also become a way of protecting the environment from pollution and is the most preferred waste management system. Nylons, plastics, metals, bottles, etc., are materials that undergo recycling.

Our Trash Lives With Us

Our trash undergoes a lot. It doesn't even end up in the same place. Two types of substances from the same household could end up at different destinations depending on what they are.

Of course, sometimes we can influence where our trash ends up. Contact a junk removal company in Littleton to make sure things are disposed of correctly. If we discard things carelessly, they could decompose as part of the soil.  Our trash in the bathroom and toilet would end up in the sewer where such liquid wastes are found. When we throw away trash in the dumpster, it could end up in landfills, incinerators, or recycled products.

So the next time you hold a polythene bag in your hand, you could be holding someone else’s trash. Or that can coke you’re drinking could be the trash you threw away in the supermarket’s dumpster. With the advancement of technology and the inclination towards recycling, most of your trash probably goes back to someone else.

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