Friday, January 27, 2006

Burning waste

According to the CSO there were 1,287,958 households in the state in 2002 (latest figures) housing 3,791,316 people. Recent estimates say that the population is now closer to 4.2m which, if we use the same percentage increase, would give us approximately 1.43m households in the state.

Bear that in mind.

The Department of the Environment "estimates that up to 60,000 tonnes of waste is being burned illegally in backyards every year". 60,000 tonnes, which is 60,000,000 kg (132m lbs).

Is it really possible that the average household is burning approximately 42kg (92lbs) of garbage each year? I sincerely doubt it.

I don't burn any garbage in my yard, which would mean my neighbors would have to be picking up my share. Yet, as far as I can tell, none of the 200 houses within "smelling distance" of my house is burning any waste. So, are there entire neighborhoods picking up the slack for my neighborhood? Are there vast housing estates where most people are burning their waste on a regular basis? I doubt it.

If we assume that no more than 10% of all households are burning waste in a single year (and that is a gross over-estimate, I believe), that would mean that each of the waste burners is burning 420kg of waste per year (at a very rough guess, I'd say that's got to be near 25 full kitchen-size bags of garbage). Is it really possible that people could get away with burning that much waste? And, what if my 10% is way off (as I believe) and it's closer to 2%? That would mean each burning household would have to burn more than 2,000kg of waste per annum. That doesn't seem feasible to me.

So, I've got to ask, does the Department of the Environment know what it's talking about at all?

NOTE: I'm not very good with the metric system, so if I've messed up one of these numbers please let me know.