Every minute, one garbage truck full of plastic is dumped into our seas.
It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by biomass, and that is not a cute look.
And that's just the plastic.
There is 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year: that is two trillion six hundred billion pounds of wasted food, and to be honest, I didn't even know that was really a number.
Another way of looking at this is one third of the food produced here on earth is never even eaten.
If aliens came down, they'd be like, "Wasteful-human-scum-produce-so-much-trash-heathen."
So what if to impress these aliens, we could just make our trash disappear like that.
What if we just burned it?
If everyone started piling garbage in their backyard, burning it openly, and singing songs around it, it could be fun... for a minute.
But then, it would lead to an increase in toxic pollutants, which leads to an increase in cancer rates.
This sounds hypothetically scary, but what is in reality scary is that 41 percent of global waste is currently burned openly.
The World Health Organization estimates 90 percent of the world's children breathe toxic air every day, and 4.2 million premature deaths were attributed to outdoor air pollution in 2016.
So, if everyone independently burned their garbage outside, more people would die.
But what if we burned our garbage but in industrial level incinerators like they do in Europe and Asia?
Some of them even have a frickin' ski hill on top of them, like, look at this one in Copenhagen.
I mean, how quirky is that?!
These big machines burn garbage, reducing the mass of the trash by 80 to 85 percent.
What you are left with is ash and flue gas.
And the ash is actually pretty toxic.
In Singapore, they ship the ash to a human-made island that I wouldn't plan any holidays to, unless you're, like, super into toxic ash.
In Belgium, these thrifty cats, they treat the ash and use it as binder in cement, so the ash then becomes part of buildings.
It's like- "Okay, Belgium, we get it. You're smart."
The other leftover product from burning garbage in an incinerator is flue gas.
This has the potential to release a bunch of dioxins into the atmosphere.
So modern incinerators use a series of devices like extreme heating, mechanical filters, and precipitators to capture toxic compounds so they aren't released.
Countries with less environmental laws may skip these steps, making each plant vary from being supes clean to supes dirty, depending on where they are located.
Now, let's all look longingly at what Sweden does with their trash.
Only one percent of waste in Sweden makes its way to a landfill.
Half is rigorously recycled and the other half is burned in a waste-to-energy plant.
This means in Sweden, they literally burn their waste and turn the energy into electricity, with 8.5 percent of their energy coming from the burning of their trash.
Sweden is hash tag GoalsAF.
But doing this does release the bane of our human existence, which is CO₂.
A lot of what is burnt is organic.
And not like- "Excuse me. Are these quail eggs organic?" but "matter composed of carbon-based compounds" organic.
Meaning most of what they burn is food, paper, wood, etc.
Over time, as part of the carbon cycle, these materials would have eventually released their CO₂ into the atmosphere anyway.
Therefore waste incineration produces 986 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, which is roughly equivalent to natural gas.
And we don't mean natural gas as in your farts.
We mean natural gas as in the common, naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture.
If we look at the US waste incinerators, in 2016, they released 12 million tons of carbon dioxide.
So it's obvi not all good.
That is an amount we need to be aware of in our current climate crisis.
Burning trash uses a lot of energy.
But wait, remember all of that talk of plastic waste ending up in our oceans?
Sweden doesn't burn it, they recycle it, which is what we all want to be doing.
In general, I repeat, we don't want to burn plastic, we want to recycle it.
Here's why: Not only does burning plastic use more energy than recycling it, plastic is actually made from petrochemicals derived from oil and gas, which means if we burn it, we must continue to extract more oil to make new plastics.
This is bad for the environment.
Oil execs don't want you to think like this.
A circular economy that works to constantly reuse and recycle resources is unappealing to oil execs.
This is why big fossil fuel companies are investing 1.5 billion dollars into something called the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, promoting the conversion of plastics to fuel for energy.
But another way of looking at this is these companies could be attempting to promote the burning of plastic, so we need more oil to make more plastic.
Oh my Lorde-with-an-e, nothing in this world is simple.
Also like many things in our capitalist society, it all comes down to money.
The World Bank estimates that incineration costs nearly double that of landfill disposal.
So, if you are a country with a lot of land, you are going to obvs opt to put waste in a cheap ol' landfill rather than pay to burn it in a fancy incinerator.
And if you don't have a lot of money, you defs aren't going to build a ski hill on top of it.
So to summarize, if we burned all our garbage in our backyards openly, we would increase air pollution and kill a bunch of people.
If we burned it all in the high-grade waste energy incinerators, we could generate a bunch of energy, but we'll be increasing our carbon footprint and furthering our reliance on fossil fuel.
So the hope for our current waste crisis relies in future technology and innovation.
Pyrolysis takes plastic and shreds, melts, and then gasifies it in the presence of less oxygen, resulting in the breakdown of polymers, which can then be refined to a diesel fuel.
Um, that's kind of RAD.
One thing YOU specifically can do is learn as much as you can about our current waste issues.
It is fascinating, and we're all involved in it, I mean like in many ways we're all trash.
Some simple steps you can start thinking about today is reuse things in thrifty ways.
My mom used to pack all my lunch sandwiches in reused milk bags, and yes, we are Canadians, so we drink our milk out of bags.
You can shop less often and focus on reducing plastic use.
Also, click the links below to read more scientific articles on this subject as, who knows?
Maybe your innovative idea is what our future needs.
Hello, person watching this!
We are serious.
Click the links below, learn about our waste issue because you might have a solution.
Also click the video over there.
It's about Big Oil and how they lied to me, to you, and to your mom/mum.
It's a very important video in our current climate crisis.
So, also subscribe to this channel, and we'll see you next week.