One of the unfortunate side-effects of being an industrialized nation is the waste that industries produce. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, which means that for every good that is produced, waste is also produced. That waste needs to go somewhere so that it doesn’t invade our homes.
The Facts About Waste
Even though over 30% of waste is recycled every year, only 2% of the total industrial waste that is produced can be recycled.
This means that many of the goods that we use every day are generating by-products that are clogging up the environment. We can reduce this waste by choosing to use goods that have high ratios of post-consumer recyclables, but industrial waste also needs to be managed in a better way so the world can have a brighter future.
How Much Waste is Produced?
1. In 2005, the last reported year, the United States produced over 34 million tons of hazardous waste.
2. Although that amount seems high, the Russian Federation regularly produces 4 times the amount of the United States.
3. In 2003, Russia reported a production of over 287 million tons of hazardous waste.
Takeaway: Industrial waste is a global problem, but it is primarily a problem where industry is growing rapidly. The exception to this, however, is China. China has one of the world’s largest industrialized populations and it produces one-third of the hazardous industrial waste of the United States. Although there are many variables in play, of course, there are also lessons that can be learned from the Chinese about how to better manage waste products.
Other Industrial Waste Statistics to Consider
1. Industrial waste makes up to half of the total amount of waste that the world generates each and every year.
2. The average person generates 4.5 pounds of waste every year, which accounts for 1.5 tons per person, because of industrial policies and procedures.
3. Only 1% of all plastic products in the United States are recycled every year, as are only 1% of all aluminum products.
4. Americans throw away 25 million plastic bottles per hour.
5. 40% of all industrial waste ends up in landfills every year.
6. By-products of industrial activity account for 50% of all the industrial waste that is produced globally each year.
7. The largest component of industrial waste is actually paper products.
Takeaway: Although the chemicals and hazardous by-products of industry are what grab the headlines when it comes to industrial waste, nearly one-third of the products that industry wastes are paper-based and very recyclable. This means we all need to do more to pressure industries to do more to recycle! Imagine how much waste could be contained or eliminated if we simply did a better job of recycling the paper products we all use every day?
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