[OPE-L] Putting out the rubbish in the Western world

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Oct 29 2006 - 12:08:32 EST

(in 2004 I wrote a Marxmail post about this, thought I would recycle it - I
noticed also a recent report by Patrick Cockburn (9 September 2006) that the
Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapse in
Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive by looking for
scraps of food in rubbish dumps, according to international aid agencies. )

The British produce nearly 30 million tons of domestic
rubbish annually, or about half a ton per UK resident assuming a population
of 60.3 million in round figures. That grows by 3 per cent each year. 80% is
dumped in holes in the ground.
In total, more than 500 million tons of waste are said to be generated by
the British a year, of which some 30% are mineral wastes, 20% industrial,
40% agricultural and 5% municipal.
In Europe as a whole, about a quarter of all waste is said to be produced by

In 2000, the Dutch produced 20 million tons of industrial rubbish, 9 million
tons domestic rubbish, 19 million tons construction rubbish and 11 million
tons other rubbish, in round figures. It works out to just over half a ton
domestic rubbish per resident per year, assuming a population of 16.3
million in round figures. About 77% of all the rubbish is recycled, 12%
burnt, 9% landfilled and 2% dumped in waters.
Other estimates suggests that in Holland about 2 tons of refuse is produced
"per head of population" each year, of which 400 kg domestic (household)
rubbish and 1,600 kg industrial wastes. This household wastes estimate is
close to the half-a-ton per year estimate I cited previously, and implies a
total of about 33 million tons of wastes per year, or 6.5 million tons of
household refuse and 26 million tons of industrial waste in round figures.
But probably in addition there are other kinds of wastes as well.
Thus, for every kg of wastes produced by a householder, 4 kgs are produced
by industry, and householder recycling affects only a fifth of the total
output of wastes. But a lot of industrial waste is also recycled.
The actual annual amount of wastes specifically processed by landfills,
waste incinerators, compost installations and sludge processing
installations in the Netherlands was said to be 11.8 million tons in 2003,
and the trend is one of steady decline in volume. Some 4.8  million tons is
landfilled, 5.2  million tons is incinerated, and 1.4 million tons is
composted according to an annual survey.

By comparison, each American resident is said to produce four pounds of
trash a day, which works out as 0.657 metric tons per person per year, or
just over 193 million tons for the whole USA per year, assuming a resident
population of 294.3 million in round figures. 70% of that is buried in
landfills. http://www.csun.edu/~vceed002/BFI/waste_stats.html
Let's say that an average American lives for 77 years, then this implies
that he or she produces around 50 tons of rubbish in a lifetime. The average
British and the Dutch would produce around 40 tons if their lifetime was the
same (actually the British and Dutch live on average to be 78, so that's
half a ton more more rubbish).


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