Is domestic waste biodegradable?  (5 disposal methods)

The article will explain if domestic waste is biodegradable or not. Other covered details would include:

  • What are disposal methods?
  • Can domestic waste be recycled? How to?
  • Can domestic waste be composted? How to?
  • How is domestic waste usually dealt with?

Is domestic waste biodegradable?

Domestic waste may and may not be biodegradable. Domestic waste is the waste produced from common, domestic, day-to-day activities. 

In many cases, the percentage of domestic waste that is biodegradable is around 50-70%. It can be seen that the majority of the waste is biodegradable but there will be non-biodegradable materials too such as metals or plastics. 

Biodegradable waste can be defined as waste that can degrade and break down by the action of microbes such as bacteria into simpler material which then can become a part of nature again. 

As a rule of thumb, biodegradable waste is better than non-biodegradable waste because it requires less decomposing time. If we take the case of non-biodegradable waste, the time required may surge up to many hundred years. 

Let us, therefore rummage over some examples of common domestic waste:

  • Food waste
  • Paper 
  • Glass
  • Metals
  • Textiles 

How to discard domestic waste? (5 disposal methods)

When it comes to the disposal of domestic waste, here are a few points that you should keep in mind

  • Be sure to properly utilise, reuse, and repurpose domestic waste before discarding it 
  • If your domestic waste is compostable, add it to your compost heap or deliver it to composting centres
  • If your waste is not compatible, chances are it will be recyclable. To know better, look up websites such as EPA or Earth911. Once you are certain, you can discard it in recycling bins or collect recycling centres for waste collection. 
  • If your waste is not recyclable (such as bubble wrap or styrofoam), you may discard it in regular trash cans. 
  • If you have domestic hazardous waste such as used syringes, and pads, it is best to discard it in red-coloured bins or contact local hazardous waste collection platforms. 

Can you recycle domestic waste?

Yes, you can definitely recycle domestic waste. Not only is it possible, it is also recommended. Most domestic waste can be recycled either in recycling centres or personally.  

When domestic waste is recycled, it is modified to be reused as if it were new material. This is considered green because when biodegradable waste is recycled, there is no need to extract the raw materials which basically means the cutting of trees. 

Therefore, let us discuss what you can do to have your biodegradable waste recycled. 

  • Disposing of in recycling bins
  • Transporting biodegradable waste in recycling facilities
  • Having the nearby recycling centres pick up your biodegradable waste and other recyclable material via appointment 

Other dimensions of recycling include:

  • Reusing 
  • Repurposing 
  • Refurbishing
  • Reselling 
  • Donating
  • Gifting

The basic aim here is to properly utilise any product before its disposal so that two main objectives may be achieved:

  • The raw materials are saved
  • The production costs/energy are conserved
  • Less waste is generated 

When these objectives are meant, there is an automated benefit to the people, health, economy, and above all, the environment. 

Can you compost domestic waste?

Yes, it is possible to compost domestic waste but not all. Composting is rather peculiar and only that waste can be composted which is natural, biodegradable and non-toxic. 

Composting can be explained as a process in which waste is converted to compost which can be used as a natural fertiliser. 

There are certain conditions necessary for composting such as the material should be natural and organic and should not emit hazardous by-products or fumes in any way. 

This is because the main purpose of composting is to increase the organic content of the soil so that the quality of plants may be improved. 

Therefore, while this may be a possibility, it is not necessary that biodegradable waste can be composted as well. In order to make sure that your biodegradable waste can be composted, you need to check on websites such as the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Once you have ensured that your biodegradable waste can be composted, you may opt for either:

  • Composting facilities
  • Composting at home

You may have the biodegradable waste composted at the composting sites. For this, you do not really need to do much. All you have to do is to pile up all the compostable waste and drop it at the nearest composting facility. 

Another option that can be pursued is composting done at home. This is a fun way and can serve as a great hobby and aid to the environment as well because the compost can be used to improve the organic content of the soil. 

Composting at home can be done through the following steps:

  • Prefer an accessible place for composting 
  • The place should be a bit distant from your home but should also be accessible
  • Shred compostable material into smaller pieces (if required) 
  • Make a heap of compostable material 
  • You may either do it openly or prefer a composting bin (which is usually preferred in the case of hot composting) 
  • While making the heap, be careful of the green-to-brown ratio. Green material means nitrogen-rich material such as leaves whereas brown material means carbon-rich material such as cardboard boxes
  • Make alternate layers of green and brown. After each duo, add a thin layer of soil. Keep up until you have 4 feet of the heap. 
  • Continuously mix (every 4-5 days) the heap and be sure to provide the right external conditions which include aeration, shade and appropriate temperature
  • Once the compost is ready, use it in your backyard.

How is domestic waste usually dealt with?

Open dumps

This is an unfortunate and unsustainable reality that in many areas, especially under-developed or developing, the waste (both biodegradable and non-biodegradable) is discarded in open dumps. 

There is no segregation, filtration, protection measures, or treatments whatsoever. This not only leads to environmental problems such as GHG emissions but also several health-related complications. 

In most cases, such as in India or Pakistan, waste is thrown in open dumps. Although biodegradable waste will degrade in some time, it will still cause environmental and health-related problems. 

Landfills

In more developed societies, there are landfills where waste is dumped. While this is much better than open dumps, it is not the best option available. 

The primary reason is that domestic waste has a lot of potential. It can be made into biofuels, it can be recycled, it can be repurposed, and it can also be composted, 

When biodegradable waste is put in landfills, we steal its potential and that is one indirect way to harm the environment. 

Incineration

Another possible fate of domestic waste is its incineration. While this may also be better than open dumping, it is not the best option available. The main reason is that when biodegradable waste is incinerated, it can not be better utilised (such as recycling or composting). 

Another negative aspect of incineration is that it leads to the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which causes environmental problems such as pollution, climate change, and global warming – to name a few. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that not all domestic waste is biodegradable. As per studies, around 50-70% of domestic waste is biodegradable from sources such as paper, food, clothes, plastics et cetera. 

The article discussed the recycling and composting possibilities of domestic waste and gave steps to actually do that home. Associated peculiarities were also shed light upon. 

The article shed light on ways in which domestic waste is normally dealt with that included open dumps, landfills, and incineration. 

References

  • (November 01, 2022). Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable. Retrieved from: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/biodegradable-and-non-biodegradable/
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
  • Eleazer, W. E., Odle, W. S., Wang, Y. S., & Barlaz, M. A. (1997). Biodegradability of municipal solid waste components in laboratory-scale landfills. Environmental Science & Technology, 31(3), 911-917.
  • The waste management & recycling blog. Retrieved from: https://www.forgerecycling.co.uk/blog/what-is-domestic-waste/

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