Waste is a great unknown that cost every year hundreds of millions of dollars. Industrialized societies produce between 2.5 lbs. and 6.5 lbs. of garbage per person per day. This means an annual output of more than 20 million tons of waste household per year in a country such as Spain.
Although man has always produced some sort of waste, thanks to the culture of “use and throw”, we are experiencing sustained growth in the generation of waste today, reaching the highest levels in history. There are indications that this trend will continue unabated in the years to come unless substantial efforts are made to change the way we manage waste.
The problem is so serious that there have been times when waste crisis has surpassed the ability of public administrations, as it happened recently in Naples, Italy, where thousands of tons of waste had to be sent to Germany due to its inability to undertake processing. Naples paid almost US$40 million to remove a volume of 160,000 tons of garbage.
In every country the situation is no less alarming.
According to several agencies and ministries charged with matters relating to the environment in Europe, the US and Australia, more than 70% of the waste produced by humans is buried in landfills. However the European Union, for example, requires reducing the shipment of waste to landfills, because it considers that such facilities should be the last alternative and are indeed the options that produce the highest negative impact on the environment.