Living in a house with several other people, I would of thought the waste produced in one day, would be considerable. However, upon assessing the lifestyles of the people in the house; it is obvious why the bins hold a minuscule amount. Waste in a broader sense, is more appropriate for myself – and probably the others. For example, procrastination and living in clutter are things that I excel at, more so than producing tangible waste. Keeping lights on perpetually, as well was the heater in Winter, are both excellent ways I ‘waste’ energy. From the energy bill, I could estimate I wasted about 4kWh of electricity in one day – thats 28kWh per week.
And this is the main food bin; its just a small plastic bag, weighing roughly 300g, and mostly containing plastic waste. For one day, it is pretty measly in comparison to the wastage electricity. Recycling doesn’t really feel like a real option, in a house full of backpackers – hence the mixed and unassorted rubbish (mainly plastic). Nobody has the time, nor the motivation to argue the case for it. But the organic waste it does contain, is mostly made up of fruit.
Given my apathetic nature to cooking, and the busy schedules of my housemates, it isn’t hard to see why the main bin is lacking in organic material. The bin with the most rubbish is actually the one in my room.
Looking at the contents after one day, 80% is organic, i.e. tissue, paper and mandarin skin. The rest is synthetic materials like plastic bags, and the plastic wrappers of some Chinese snacks. Paper is the most abundant organic waste here, and has an interesting lifecycle.
Pulp and paper is produced on all continents; the largest producer countries, US, China, Japan and Canada, with 400 million tons being produced each year. Both are made from wood fibres, originating from natural forests or pulpwood plantations. Over half of the resource comes already from recycled fibre and other fibre sources.
The lifecycle of paper, is very circular i.e. almost all the products of the process can be reused and are being so. While there is still potential for growth in recycled fibre use, it is the logging industry, the start of the process that needs the most refinement.
The harvesting of the input, pulp, is still an unsustainable practice. Demand for pulp is still increasing rapidly, and is being achieved by the consumption of whole forests. The paper industry is accelerating climate change and causing wildlife loss; such practices also affect people who depend directly on forests.
From these graphs, its is clear that paper consumption is huge and still increasing. Solutions involve:
-Assuring wood fibres can be grown, sourced and reused in a responsible way.
-Maximising the use of recycled fibres and sourcing the fibre from natural forests and plantations
-Using cleaner technology; the manufacturing processes can be optimised to reduce pulp and paper products’ impacts on climate change and water.
-Reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the manufacturing process by investing in more efficient plants and retrofitting existing plants.
And again, improving responsible consumption practices can also help to reduce the environmental impact of paper, i.e. recycling the fibre. Paper has become an integral part of our modern practices; it makes sense, to find the most efficient and sustainable method, to lessen the impacts on our environment.