RINA Project : Waste

By: Nikola G, Hafith M, Abdinasir A, Drew T

Introduction

The STSE issue that we're studying is waste. Waste can be in the form of compostable waste, recyclable waste, Greenhouse gas emissions, and disposable waste. The connection from waste to climate change is the greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The waste in landfills contributes to approximately 3% of earths GHG emissions. When things biodegrade in a landfill in produces a gas called methane, which is 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide. This methane is released into the atmosphere to strengthen the greenhouse affect and heat the planet.


Waste isn't only the garbage we through away. It also has an impact on transportation (car, air plane, train etc.) and also when we turn on our lights or turn the TV on. Electricity is a contributor to waste and GHGs. For example, to get the electricity that you have in your home, someone must extract that material from the Earth, transport it to a plant where it's then created into nuclear energy and this produces electricity. Just this one form impacts our environment greatly. This is why some companies have switched to other forms of electricity/energy such as solar,wind and hydroelectric energy.

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Story of Stuff (2007, OFFICIAL Version)

Negative Aspects

  • Global warming - When waste biodegrades in landfills it emits methane gas, a GHG 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This strengthens the greenhouse effect which heats the planet and has all sorts of negative impacts. Some include flooding, heat waves, droughts, the melting of ice caps and wildfires.
  • Pollutes water - When toxic materials end up in landfills some of these toxins can go into the gerund and into a water supply.
  • Kills animals - Due to the rising temperature some species such as polar bears can not survive due to a loss of habitat or simply just not being able to live in such warm temperatures. Animals also choke and suffocate on the waste in landfills and the pollution.
  • Wastes space - Landfills can be very large. They take up lots of space where other things could be such as houses, stores and parks. They also waste lots of space near them because they are unpleasant and nobody wants to be near them.

Key Decision Makers and Powerful Actors

There are many people who are extremely powerful in this industry. They can change the path that our Earth is going on, but they choose not to for one simple reason, money. The profit on which companies make from waste is very large. These people benefit on non-reusable sources because you are forced to continue to buy from them. Some of these industries include:
  • The Plastic Industry
  • Oil, Gasoline, and Coal companies
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Technology Industry
  • clothing industry
These groups of people can influence what we purchase, how much we pay for these products/services, and how much quantity of these resources we will have. Many of those listed above force you to buy more. Take phones for example. A new iPhone comes out every six months. This makes people want to throw away there perfectly good phones and buy a new one. Same thing with clothes. Everyone wants to be with the latest trend. 99% of the things we buy are thrown away within 6 months of being purchased.

Primary Research

We conducted a study of 20 males and 20 females. We handed them a survey with 5 questions having to do with waste. One of these questions was how often do you recycle paper. We felt this was important because recycling paper saves trees, one of earth's largest carbon sinks. The options to choose from were never, sometimes, often, or always. The results we got were graphed to see if there were a correlation between someone's gender and how often they recycle paper. We also included the total so that we could see where the highest frequency was as a whole.
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Results

We discovered from our graph, that the females we surveyed do recycle more than the males. The graph shows that the number of girls that always recycle paper is more than twice as many as the males. It also shows that the females always recycle paper more than they often and sometimes do combined. The males often recycle paper more than sometimes and always combined. The totals peak was often which was only 2 more than always. This shows that there is a correlation between gender and how often paper is recycled.

Interpretation

The reason that there is less people who always recycle than often is most likely because people are lazy. Everyone has a recycling bin and everyone knows that paper is recyclable. The people are to lazy too walk to the recycling bin so they throw paper in the garbage which is closer. It is possible that the girls recycle paper more often because they are more conscious of the environment than boys. It makes sense that girls tend to recycle more often because they could be more aware on the negative aspects of waste.

Weaknesses

One major weakness in our study was the lack of people we questioned. The results that we obtained could have been coincidences due to the small number of people that took our survey. Another weakness was that the study was very biased. It was given to mainly grade tens in one school. This gives us similar answers because we all live the same way.

Action

To help raise awareness about all the negative impacts on waste we have made a twitter called the Erindale Waste Group. We post interesting facts and things we can do to make less waste. Follow us at @ewag123

Works Cited

Climate Change and the Life Cycle of Stuff. (2014, March 18). Retrieved from http://epa.gov/climatechange/climate-change-waste/life-cycle-diagram.html#endoflife


Princeton University. (2014, March 27). A more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, methane emissions will leap as Earth warms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 13, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327111724.htm