Incinerate and Obliterate!

For us here at Ecoants we have a dilemma. We hate the enormous amounts of waste that end up in landfill, as to us dealing with waste in this way is just unsustainable, both in the short and long term. Recycling rates have slowly improved, but not to any levels good enough to ensure we have a sustainable future with reducing rates of land pollution caused by landfill. One option to significantly reduce landfill is to literally incinerate our waste to ash, but this has been, and still is, a hugely controversial subject, so we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of waste incineration and try and draw some kind of balanced conclusion from these.

You are probably aware that clinical waste is usually incinerated for necessary reasons as the high temperatures will destroy most pathogens and chemicals which are often found in this waste. There are also many incinerators found in many countries around the world that successfully burn lots of waste that would otherwise go to landdfill. Some of these incineration plants use the heat energy created to warm municipal heating systems or to create electricity and in this way at least this waste is being put to some good use. There are, however, problems associated with waste incineration which we will look at here.

The Pros and Cons of Incinerating Waste

We'll first look at the pros of incinerating some or the majority of our waste, before then focusing on the cons. You'll make up your own mind about this topic, but as with many environmental problems, like those discussed here on Ecoants, there is no easy answer.

The Advantages

The Disadvantages

Our Conclusion

There is no easy answer to dealing with the enormous volumes of waste we generate domestically in the home and commercially in our businesses. The thing is, we have to deal it somehow! Reducing the amount of waste we produce as a society is going to be very important going forward and there are efforts to change public and busines attitudes and practices. For example,some supermarkets try to incentivise customers to bring their own bags to put their shopping in, rather than use cheap supermarket plastic bags which can pollute our land.

Recycling rates too are going to have to increase to prevent unnecessary waste of natural resources and to reduce landfill. Incineration may never become wholly acceptable to the general public given the disadvantages above, the costs of building the modern plants with processes and filters to clean the exhaust gases, and the fact that much of the waste being burnt could still be useful in some way. Here at Ecoants, incineration strikes us as a convenient, short term solution which does not deal with the problems at the heart of the civilised world. We need to find ways to reduce the waste we produce and then ensure that any waste we do make is ultimately recycled. That is the future.

Let us know what you think about these issues here.