When it comes to keeping on top of our waste disposal responsibilities, our minds are usually drawn to the big issues of the day, such as plastic recycling and energy consumption. Although these are important things to keep on top of, these issues do take up the spotlight to a certain extent, meaning other waste management requirements sometimes fall by the wayside.
A prime example of this can be seen when looking at how many of us deal with what is known as ‘green’ waste. Covering everything from garden cuttings and wood chips to cut down trees, green waste can sometimes, incorrectly, be seen as less problematic than other forms of waste as organic materials can easily decompose.
Whilst this does have some bearing on the truth, this doesn’t mean that green waste should be discounted as a non-issue. The UK creates around six million tonnes of green waste every year which, if disposed of incorrectly can cause a litany of problems for both the environment and local communities.
Because of this, it’s important that those creating large amounts of green waste are educated on the importance of responsible disposal and have an understanding of best practice when it comes to getting rid of their rubbish.
If you’re an individual or business that creates a large amount of green waste, it can be tempting to simply dump it somewhere and let it decompose in order to save money on landfill charges or on investing in a waste management company. However, this can cause a host of detrimental issues.
One of the biggest problems from irresponsible green waste disposal is the threat it causes to local ecosystems. Aside from covering certain plants from sunlight cover, green waste may contain seeds and plant parts with the ability to grow in their new habitat, known as propagules.
These propagules can insert themselves into the local ecosystem, potentially decimating the local plant life through increased competition for natural resources. Japanese Knotweed is a prime example of this problem, excluding local flora from sunlight and nutrients due to its dense growth and large leaf cover.
Although the green waste you dump may at first be filled with material that would seem difficult to burn, it’s important to remember that it will eventually dry out. This can then pose a significant fire risk, depending on where the green waste has been dumped.
Of course, some individuals may look to burn their garden or green waste, however, there are a range of legal obligations and environmental concerns when doing this. Also, for companies dealing with large amounts of green waste, this is likely not a viable option.
Green waste is usually made up of lots of loose cuttings and wood pieces that, if not dealt with using the appropriate channels, can quite easily find its way into local water sources. Floating along the top of bodies of water, green waste can end up blocking natural light that animals and plants may rely on.
Excess green waste in our water systems can also lead to blockages which can end up costing large amounts of money to fix.
Unfortunately, the UK still relies on the use of landfills for a substantial amount of our waste and although this is changing, green waste still consistently ends up getting dumped. Unlike plastics and metals, green waste does decompose, however, this releases pent up methane and other greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming.
Green waste management methods
As you can see, green waste can be as much of a problem as other waste streams like plastic and metals. However, although a genuine issue, there are methods that individuals and waste management companies can employ in order to ensure that green waste doesn’t end up in a landfill.
Wood from trees and other sources that can’t be used for construction can instead be turned into wood shaving and chippings. This resource has a wide array of applications, for example, chippings can be used in landscape design to create great looking garden borders.
Chippings can also be used as a fuel source known as biomass. A much more sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel option, biomass woodchip can be used to heat homes and commercial buildings cheaply and easily, without the issues caused by conventional fossil fuels.
The humble art of composting isn’t just for people looking to grow an allotment, it can also act as an extremely viable way to sustainably get rid of green waste. At a home level, composting allows for an individual to create nutrient-rich soil for their plants without relying on chemical fertilizers. On average, a person can divert 150kg of green waste from landfill through effective composting.
Waste management companies also utilise this age-old method of dealing with green waste but on a much large scale, again ensuring no waste ends up in a landfill.
Aside from biomass fuels, the creation of various biofuels are becoming increasingly popular and can be created from green waste. Recycling green waste can create two different renewable energy sources; the first is known as Biogas. This energy source is made up of a mixture of gases which are produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen.
The other biofuel, known as cellulosic ethanol, is made up of the fibrous parts of plants that are inedible to most animals and humans. Both of these can be used for a variety of energy-reliant applications, from home heating to electricity, and has the potential to become a genuine economic alternative to natural gas.
Responsible green waste management is an essential component of the recycling process and should be seen as just as important as plastic and glass recycling. Once we all start doing our bit when it comes to green waste, we’ll start to see the benefits.
Of course, the most significant benefit is to the environment. Rather than green waste releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere, its energy potential is put to good use, creating a sustainable energy source whilst saving valuable landfill space.
This change will also invariably lead to a reduction in costs, both to the individual and to the wider economy. Rather than spending money on landfill levies, it can be used more effectively in other ways and, for companies who rely on waste management businesses, the costs can be considerably less by working with a zero to landfill organisation.
On a more global scale, renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper by the day, with the cost global technology responsible for sustainable energy dropping to a record low in 2018 according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, with the cost of bioenergy dropping a staggering 14%.
Keeping on top of green waste is important for any business that deals with it in large quantities. Luckily, if you’re in the Devon or Cornwall area and are looking for an eco-friendly waste management company to help you dispose of your green rubbish, Devon Contract Waste is here to help.
As proud proponents of our zero to landfill policy, we ensure that all of the rubbish we collect, be it plastic, clinical or green waste, never makes it to a landfill site and is instead put to the best possible use.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you tackle your waste management issues, visit our website or get in touch to discuss your requirements.