What Is The Environmental Impact Of Waste & How Can We Reduce It | Need A Skip Now
As we find ourselves at the end of 2020, more and more of our residential, commercial and construction industry customers are enquiring or showing a great interest or concern about how we manage the waste the we collect from your project in our skip bins. Environmental awareness has never been as high as it is now and with global warming and the key advocates from the generation Z like, Greta Thunberg, there are probably a very few people left who are not aware about worldwide climate challenges.
We here in Victoria, have our own challenges and the changes we can implement from the smallest scale (such as waste management in your home) to the larger scale, such as waste management on the construction sites - can have a profound impact on our environment.
Waste Management Starts At Home
One of the foundations of managing waste is to actually reduce the flow of waste into the landfills and maximise any opportunities for recycling, repurpusing, upcycling and other methodologies, to divert the waste away from landfills.
On a domestic level, one of the wonderful initiatives by City of Kingston Council is Food Recycling. Instead of throwing your food scraps into the bin, which then ends up in your red bin or general waste bin, council has provided residents with small bins for food recycling, to be kept in their kitchens and then emptied into their Green Waste Bin. Essentially, Kingston Green Bins will now become Food Waste and Green Bins. An example of food waste that can go in there include: food scraps like fish, meat, bones, cooked food and dairy products.
Why is food recycling important? According to the data from Kingston City council - food makes up 50% of waste, which is taken to the landfill. By instead of usual disposal, placing your food scraps into your green bin, you are not only contributing to the environment by diverting waste from landfill but also assisting Aussie farmers to create a nutrient rich compost, which they will use to produce healthy crops. The compost material will also be used in local parks and any green wedge areas as required.
Waste Management at Construction and Demolition Sites
One of the costly and important areas in the C & D Sites is Waste Management and the adherence to the local laws and safety regulations. To ensure that the employees, contractors and visitors to the site are safe and not exposed to harmful substances, such as asbestos or tripping hazards, such as sites with overflowing rubbish, it is highly recommended to implement and follow a Waste Management Plan on each of those sites.
In the absense of a Waste Management Plan, the following dangers to the people and the environment can occur:
- Workers can be exposed to Asbestos, knowingly or unknowingly
- Soil Contamination, by mismanagement of liquid chemicals. Contamination occurs by spilling or burying hazardous components in soil. A Waste Management plan needs to have clear guidlines on dealing with petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, pesticides, heavy metals and lead.
- a simple example of what happens when plastic bottle is burried in the soil... plastic water bottles eventually break down, releasing a harmful component, called DIETHYLHYDROXYLAMINE (DEHA). DEHA is a carcinogen, which hurts our reproductive capabilities, causes liver dysfunction and other problems.
- DEHA then seeps into surrounding areas of the soil, thus impacting plant and animal life
- Water Contamination, as a result of mismanaging a storm water run off. Storm water pollution is a very high risk on the building and construction sites. The storm water drainage network is separate from the sewage system. The storm water drains from the gutters and pipe network straight into our water bodies, such as creeks, rivers, wetlands, groundwater and the sea. Storm water pollution causes severe environmental degradation.
- During Construction Activities - soil is disturbed, thus once disturbed, it is easily eroded and moved off site into the stormwater pipes. Soil becomes a major source of Sediment Polution in the waterways and eventually the sea.
- Many other pollutants are generating on building sites, from activities such as: concreting, plastering and painting. All of the said activities need to be carefully managed, with the help of the waste management plan, to ensure that the harmfull chemicals will not become part of the storm water run off and impact the environment.
The Environmental Protection Legislation is requiring all builders to have the following plans on their sites to ensure compliance with waste management and ensure no negative impacts on the environment:
- Erosion, Sediment and Drainage Control Plans
- Soil Erosion Management Drainage Plan (SEDMP)
Apart from Water Polution, Building and Construction sites are subjects to un announced visits by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Work Safe inspectors. Sites overflowing with rubbish or without proper documentation or processes to manage waste, might be subject to heavy fines and in some instances orders to stop work, until the safety of the site is brought to an appropriate level.
Keeping the Construction Site Waste Free
One of the tips from our Building and Construction customers is to always keep a Skip Bin on site to ensure no rubbish is flying around the site and there is no double handling. If the site is large enough, our customers can have a few skip bins for various types of waste, such as:
- Skip Bin for Clean Fill only (like concrete, bricks)
- Skip Bin for Soil only
- Skip Bin for Cardboard
- Skip bin for General Waste
The benefit of ordering various bins for specific waste type is that due to us operating a waste transfer station, where all the waste from your sites is recycled, we are able to offer discounted skip hire rates for recyclable materials. Therefore if the project is large and customer has space for more than one bin, separating the waste can save money on waste disposal.
How To Minimise the Environmental Impacts of Waste
The general principle of waste is that we need to reduce the volume of waste as a whole, meaning we need to review the processes and flow of materials to ensure that as much waste is diverted away from landfill as possible.
On a Domestic Level
We have already discussed food recycing, in addition to which there is a need to review the overconsumption of other products, such as clothing, electronic goods, toys and so on. When going through your cupboards and clearing your wordrobe, instead of chucking it into your red bin, reconsider and see what can be donated, given away and so on in order to give new life to the garmet. The same principle applies to toys, particularly plastic toys, if there is any way to donate or gift a toy to another family, it will reduce the amount of plastic sent to landfill and will prolong the use of the toy, therefore win win scenario.
When it comes to old mobile phones and various ewaste, check the guidelines from your local council for e-waste disposal or drop off centres or if you are hiring a skip bin, it will be appropriately recycled by us in our waste transfer station.
On a Commercial Level
Must have and adhere to Waste Management plans to ensure compliance with Environmental Legislation and safety of the site. By carefully managing the various types of waste and using various skip bins for various waste types, such as concrete, bricks, soil, tiles, green waste and so on, ensures that materials are not sent to landfill, properly separated in the waste transfer station and used to produce other products, i.e. given a second life.
In summary, the environmental impact of waste is tremendous and is not only harmful to the environment and is also posing a threat to our future generations. Careful and thoughtful approach to waste management is a responsibility of every person and business and there is an abundance of useful tips and references available online. Usually your local city council is the first starting point, as most councils now offer a variety of recycling and waste management opportunities for residents.
For the waste management assistance on your building site, please don't hesitate to contact our friendly team on 1300 605 624 and we'll be able to advise on the most appropriate skip bins for your site in term of bin size, waste type and an assurance of materials diversion from the landfill.