Can Green Waste Have An Adverse Effect On The Environment?
This is one of those times when the answer is, ‘It depends’. It really depends on what you do with the green waste as to whether the effect it has on the environment is good, or bad.
So, what is green waste? Green waste is a very general term that people use to cover ‘biodegradable waste’. Think of your trees and bushes; think about your backyard and garden. When you cut your lawn, the resultant grass clippings are green waste. When you pull weeds out of your garden, those weeds are green waste. When you trim branches, prune bushes … that’s green waste.
It doesn’t just have to be you that causes green waste. High winds can cause leaves and twigs and branches to fall to the ground.
So, green waste occurs when what was once connected to something alive is now no longer connected to that live thing. By itself, the green waste is no longer living.
Now, you’d thing ‘green waste’ would be great for the environment. It’s green … after all. But it all depends on what we do with the green waste.
Just Dumping Green Waste Into Landfills Is Bad For The Environment
A lot of people will just dump their clippings, and branches and what-not into the landfill. We think that because it is biodegradable then it won’t cause any issues. And yes, green waste does biodegrade, but it doesn’t degrade properly in a landfill.
When branches fall from tree in nature, or anything else that we would classify as ‘green waste’, were it to happen in our home, happens in nature, decomposition begins. This happens naturally and is good for the environment.
However, when green waste is put into landfills, it is compacted tightly because space is at a premium. When compacted tightly, there is far less oxygen available to allow for the safe and natural decomposition of the green waste; instead, the decomposition process is fuelled by bacteria that produces methane, which is a far more potent cause of greenhouse gases than is carbon dioxide.
It’s also bad for our waterways.
As bad as methane is, it’s not the only by-product produced when green waste biodegrades in a landfill. The process also creates something called ‘leachate’. Leachate occurs when falling rain seeps and flows in through the myriad channels and gaps and holes and tunnels in the landfill; the moving water collects all manners of chemicals and other decomposing matter along its journey, becoming more and more toxic. This liquid could then find its way into our lakes and rivers and streams, and possibly even into a city’s drinking water. As you would expect, this could easily cause issues with people’s health.
What Are The Alternatives?
Recycling and composting. Composting is decomposition done right. It allows air into the equations and ensure that biodegradation is done naturally. And recycling uses the raw products in green waste to create new products, ensure that what is then thrown away is far less in volume. Landfills are not infinite in size. They are placed in our cities and are therefore bound by defined borders they can’t outgrow. Anything you can do to make sure less waste ends up on our landfills the better.
There is one final option, and that is letting the professionals do the job for you. There are companies how remove green waste for you, and they will know how to ensure that the green waste will not be simply thrown onto a landfill, but is carefully recycled or biodegraded through natural means.