Incineration of Waste
Often seen as an alternative to dumping waste in landfill sites which takes up space and looks unsightly, incinerating waste gets rid of it relatively quickly and easily. Whilst this is a particular benefit, there are unfortunately negative impacts upon the environment as well as for people living near the source of the incineration.
Burning waste will often produce harmful gases which are released and can be harmful to the environment and the ozone layer, as well as being potentially detrimental to the health of people living nearby, especially if particulates are released into the surrounding air and are inhaled by them. If the waste is not thoroughly separated before burning, it can cause hazardous substances to be released.
Incineration plants are nearly always visually intrusive buildings which certainly do not win any awards for their architectural beauty. Add to this the necessity for a large chimney stack through which to release the gas given off through the burning process and it can cause a visibility issue which affects residents for miles around.
Because it is so relatively quick and easy to get rid of waste by burning it, and the environmental effects can be difficult to see, it can have a detrimental effect upon recycling initiatives as people think rubbish can be burnt to dispose of it rather than attempting to re-use or recycle it.
Benefits of Waste Incineration
Despite its drawbacks, there are also a number of benefits with regards to waste incineration. Along with the fact that incinerating waste negates the need for large areas of land to be used as it does for a landfill site, by not allowing rubbish to decompose there will not be vast quantities of methane released into the atmosphere; a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.
Incineration is extremely useful when it comes to the disposal of clinical waste. Items which pose a health risk such as sharp syringes which can contain blood that may be contaminated with a virus, or hazardous biological material, can be burnt which will eliminate the hazard.
Not only does burning waste get rid of it quickly, but the incineration plant can also produce steam which can be used to drive turbines and generate electricity. Although likely to be a small amount, at least it will be a contribution and a little bit less electricity is then needed to be produced which would otherwise be created through burning fossil fuels in all likelihood.