Using Household Waste to Create Fuel

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.

The use of plastic bags has fallen by 90% since introducing the 5p charge but there is still more to be done

It’s great news to hear that the sale of plastic carrier bags in England’s major supermarkets have dropped by 90% since the 5p charge was introduced. 

The plastic bag charge came into effect in England on 5 October 2015, with all supermarkets and large stores legally required to charge a minimum of 5p for single-use plastic bags in store. 

According to figures the average English shopper will now use just 10 bags a year, compared to 140 before the charge came in. 

However, it was also stated that England is still lagging behind Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This is because in England the fee only applies to shops with more than 250 employees, rather than all retailers.   

What can be done to cut down on plastic use? 

Whilst it may seem a bit cliché to use the phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, it really is as simple as that. 

Whilst retailers need to be offering alternative packaging options, it’s also down to us to change our habits so that less plastic is needed so that less is being produced. 

Take a look at some of the ways you can reduce your plastic use: 

Take your own containers to supermarkets 

Many big supermarkets will now allow you to take your own containers to fish and meat counters so that you can bypass packaging on the items on shelves. 

Other supermarkets, namely Morrisons, have changed their stores so that customers can take in tubs for other items such as cereals, nuts, fruit and veg, and many more. This is a huge step to reducing the amount of plastic that we are using in households. 

Swap to eco bags

Whilst reusable bags such as those made from jute and cotton still require a lot of energy to produce in factories, they have a much better lifespan than plastic options. 

They are also much more durable than plastic bags, making them perfect for shopping trips and transporting items from place to place. Paper bags are compostable which makes them an ideal choice for an eco bag option. 

Recycle products you can’t put in your home recycling bin

When recycling at home there are some things, such as crisp packets or chocolate bar wrappers, that local authorities won’t accept in their recycling boxes and which may end up in the waste bin instead. 

There are now ways that you can recycle these items. Take a look at websites such as TerraCycle, who will be able to point you in the direction of local recycling boxes for items you can’t put in the boxes provided by your local authority.  

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