Waste generation rates are increasing, according to the World Bank. Population growth and urban development are expected to heighten the volume of wastes even more — by as high as 70% between 2016 and 2050.
True enough, more and more people are moving to cities. As of 2018, 55% of the world’s populations are living in metropolitan areas, a number predicted by the UN to blow up to 68% by 2050.
Suffice to say, we are pretty much in doom as 2050 looms closer. If we do not manage our waste properly now, the movie Wall-E might just become our reality, only we won’t end up in spaceships, eating everything we want and being aided by robots. Instead, we’d probably all be wiped out.
A very dark future, but we’ve always been warned that the worst will happen if we don’t increase our efforts in waste management. But how will we do that if the industries we benefit the most from are the ones generating tons of waste?
If you own a business in one of those industries, then your efforts are even more critical. So here are the industries that produce the most waste, and what you can do to mitigate your situation:
1. Auto Repair Shops
The auto industry in general is the culprit for the high levels of toxic waste in the environment. Oils, paints, lubricants, and other hazardous waste are left on the earth as automakers manufacture or dispose of vehicles. Repair shops, in particular, generate mounds of solid waste, such as old car parts and auto components.
2. Furniture Manufacturers
Waste is probably the last thing you’d think of when you walk into a home improvement store. After all, the whole place smells like new, as if everything is spotless. But behind this glamour are the exorbitant amounts of toxic and physical waste generated in their factories.
Solvents, one of the main generators of nitrogen oxides, are largely used by furniture manufacturers. In case you didn’t know, nitrogen oxide is gases that are harmful to human health and the environment. Nitrogen Dioxide, one of the groups of nitrogen oxide gases, can irritate a person’s airways, aggravate preexisting respiratory conditions, or cause respiratory symptoms.
3. Cleaning Industry
Ironically, the cleaning industry is bringing more waste to the earth. Chemical cleaning products are rarely environmentally-friendly, with harsh ingredients like acid. Thankfully, the industry is starting to improve its products and services. They’ve pushed for steam cleaners, which are relatively safer for the environment.
4. Oil and Gas Industry
This isn’t at all surprising. Naturally, oil and gas companies release an enormous mass of toxic waste every day. Each year, they generate over 4,000 tons of solid waste. They are barely accomplished yet when it comes to sustainability efforts; at most, some companies have already upgraded their recycling measures.
5. Construction Industry
In many countries, the construction industry is the biggest culprit for excessive waste. It generates more than 90% of a total waste produced in a country. If you’re from Bulgaria, the waste from your construction company is most probably one of the 172 million tons of it produced by your fellow players in the industry.
6. Agricultural and Industrial
In Canada, the agricultural and industrial sectors are the largest waste generators. So much so that Canada has become the country that produces the most waste in the world. Their agricultural and industrial waste already weighed a total of 181 million tons and 1.12 billion tons, respectively, as of 2017. All in all, the country produced 1.33 billion metric tons of waste that year.
How to Manage Waste in Your Business
Organizations promoting environmental awareness continuously urge corporations to reduce their packaging, and minimize their overall environmental footprint. Break Free From Plastic, a global movement that calls for the ban of single-use plastics, demands for the redesigning of delivery systems, so that packaging can be eliminated. They’re also calling on corporations to be accountable for the plastic pollution they’re causing.
No matter how small your business is, your efforts can bring a huge change. If you haven’t paid much attention to the waste you’re generating, now’s the time to do that, and to address their severity and potential impact.
If you operate a junk shop, factory, or any of the businesses related to the industries above, start tracking your waste. What happens once they’re dropped into the waste bin? Are you recycling?
You can use an online waste tracking tool to make the job easier. It will also let you track your energy and water consumption. Once you get an accurate picture of how you consume and dispose of resources, you can start making a plan of enhancing your sustainability, and saving more money in turn.
Just because you’re in an industry that produces tons of waste means that you’re helpless. As long as you keep making efforts and improving your waste reduction plans, you’re helping the world preserve its safety and beauty. You’d also secure the future and health of people who call earth home.