“Reducing the amount of trash we create in the first place is the best place to start tackling our waste-management problems. Not only does it mean we send less waste to the landfill, it also means we use fewer resources and less energy — as it takes energy to produce and transport packaging and disposable items.” – David Suzuki
We’re in big environmental trouble.
As the world continues its path towards self-destruction by garbage, many of us should fear the current state of societal waste production and management. In fact, Canada’s estimated total waste generation, which totaled 1.33 billion metric tonnes of waste (or 36.1 tonnes per person), is the highest in the world. All that waste we’re producing must go somewhere—and if the materials aren’t being recycled or reused, they will likely end up in landfills.
Keep reading to learn more about scrap metal recycling and how it can help reduce environmental pollution.
The problem with landfills
A landfill site is an area of land that is used to dump garbage, either directly on the ground or by filling an unwanted hole. Landfills contain both household and commercial rubbish, and in recent years, the overfilling of landfills has become a major concern for many populated areas. Landfill leachate, the toxic liquid that is a result of garbage decomposition and rainwater entering the landfill, is known to cause huge environmental damage to its surroundings.
You may think that federal and state agencies would maintain a high level of oversight over landfills to protect the public and the environment, but that isn’t always the case. In reality, the safeguards intended to prevent leaching are destined to fail over time, and toxic liquids will continue to seep into the environment.
A major source of air pollution is caused by metal mining and discarded metals that are left in landfills. Mining operations require a large amount of energy and fossil fuels to smelt metal
from ore, contributing to the greenhouse gas problem. Additionally, the metal components in our waste add to the problem of overcrowded landfills, which release harmful toxins into the atmosphere. Poor air quality can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and other lung ailments.
The toxic runoff from metals in landfills can pollute the water supply, causing irreversible harm to the environment and the people who live nearby. It can pollute entire lakes, rivers, and marine environments, compromising our drinking water and destroying entire ecosystems.
When we don’t discard metals properly, they can leach toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil. This includes electronic waste, which has become a major issue in landfills around the world as it releases dangerous elements such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. At high levels, these elements pose a serious threat to human and animal health. Furthermore, plants that grow on polluted soils show a reduction in growth, performance, and yield. As such, crops become contaminated, and can be found to contain dangerous levels of heavy metals.
How can scrap metal recycling help?
Scrap metal recycling can help prevent environmental pollution in a few direct and indirect ways. Much of the garbage that is occupying landfills include metal components, which, when left over time, can leak toxic fluids. Furthermore, repurposing scrap metal uses much less energy when compared with mining for virgin ore. By reusing our unwanted metal, we’re able to reduce the amount of waste materials and pollutants that end up in landfills and metal mining. This also means that we can reserve other valuable resources such as coal and oil that would otherwise be used in the mining and extraction process.
Environmental pollution is a serious issue that affects all of us. If you’re interested in maintaining the health and safety of your community and local ecosystems, consider recycling with us. Manville Recycling is a full-service Canadian recycler that repurposes scrap metal in a safe, sustainable, and professional way. Our friendly staff has an excellent understanding of different metals, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions! We consider the needs and convenience of our customers above everything else.