Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) highlighted that the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere reached 420 parts per million, the highest carbon dioxide levels in over 4 million years.
What do these record CO2 emissions mean for us? How is this related to climate change? The atmosphere works as a heat trapping blanket whereby greenhouse gasses (GHG), like CO2, keep temperature on Earth comfortable for living things to survive. This excess amount of CO2 emitted by human activities (Eg. Deforestation, electrical generation, and more) causes the average temperatures to rise over time, changing seasons and rainfall patterns, resulting in what is known as climate change.
In Malaysia, 37,560 tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) was generated in 2019, equivalent to a single person contributing approximately 1.20 kg of MSW every single day to landfill. Most of the landfills are open dumpsites and the collected MSW enters directly to the landfill in untreated form, resulting in more GHG emissions, pollution and scarcity of land to accomodate an ever-increasing demand for space for landfill construction.
MSW is projected to have a 3-5% increase in annual generation rate. Paper waste ranked no. 4, accounts for 8.5% of the total MSW in Malaysia as shown in below picture:
The decomposition of MSW in landfills under anaerobic conditions produces GHG which contains approximately 50-60% methane (CH4) and 30-40% carbon dioxide (CO2) by volume. Methane (CH4) has a global warming potential of 21 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2). When a tonnage of paper waste degrades in landfill, it generates 7 tons of CO2. Thus, it poses a serious environmental problem.
If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, the utmost priority is to say “NO” to landfill disposal methods. We are turning the headline into an action, to turn the tide on the climate crisis. Sign up for updates on how we are diverting paper waste from landfill. Donate to help us in taking the action further.