The modern world relies on energy; to run, to produce, to transport – the list is endless. Around the world, different organisations and countries are competing to find the most energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly and abundantly available sources of energy out there. One option which would tick all the boxes is energy created from waste (EfW); specifically, household waste. Things we throw out every day often end up in landfills or polluting the oceans. By putting waste to good use we can produce energy and save our planet simultaneously.
Though there are several organisations that take it upon themselves to collect household waste and convert it to energy in mass waste-to-energy plants but similar benefits can also be achieved on a domestic scale. Surprisingly, this can sometimes be more beneficial and below we will explore how and why.
Where does our waste go?
We stress on our children to not litter, and throw trash in the bin, but do we know where the contents of this bin end up? Even in developed countries, a major portion of waste is collected through garbage disposal and dumped in controlled landfills.
The reduce, reuse and recycle attempts may have lessened the impact by a fraction, but we can’t deny the problem of massive landfills. Around the world, a million plastic water bottles are bought every minute! Our global waste is expected to grow from 2 billion to an even horrifying 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050.
The collection process uses heavy garbage disposal trucks that produce a large amount of harmful emissions every day. This may seem normal and harmless but when you consider the number of miles these loaded trucks travel every single day, 365 days a year – it’s easy to see that they create a major portion of the air pollution. Waste-to-energy plants may also use transportation to gather waste but even this disadvantage can be avoided by recreating the process at a household level.
In addition to air pollution, the trash also causes land pollution. Firstly, a large amount of land is required to store all the trash. The trash then takes many years to break down in these sites. By using waste as an energy source, we can create a sustainable use for it.
Gasification of Food Waste
The gasification process happens when carbonaceous substances are converted into carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and a small amount of hydrogen at a high temperature in the presence of oxygen, which produces synthesis gas. Using this method, leftover food waste can be turned into gas, which can then be used for a number of purposes ranging from cooking to heating.
It’s even possible to produce your own biofuels using food waste at home. This method is better suited to warmer, tropical climates to aid the production of gas. These biofuels are much less toxic than fossil fuels and give off 75% less harmful emissions when used.
Used Oil as Car Fuel
Fuel prices have been on a steady soar upwards no matter what country you consider. This is because fossil fuels are a limited source, yet their demand just keeps growing. This has led to a number of cheaper and subsequently greener alternatives gaining popularity. These greener energy sources range from solar power, to wind energy to electric power.
One very simple alternative is to power your diesel cars with correctly treated leftover and used vegetable oil. Despite being a sustainable repurpose for oil that would’ve otherwise been discarded, it’s not really any better than diesel as far as the harmful emissions are concerned. Nonetheless, these vegetable based oils cancel out the carbon they emit due to it being absorbed by the plants as they’re growing.
Using household waste to produce energy has several advantages. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. By repurposing waste as a source of energy, you prevent your garbage from ending up in landfills, oceans, and incinerators which only worsen the pollution issues. These measures will not just be lighter on the environment, but your pocket as well and the best part: it can all be done right at home.