eli5: How is burning waste less harmful than letting nature decompose of it?


I understand that certain substances such as sodium hydroxide, acetone, batterys, plastic and even aluminum are harmful but trash is already being separated quite well in first world countries. So how is burning biological waste more effective? Or is it just easier?

I seek an actual explanation, not yes/no.

Thanks for your knowledge in advance.

In: 5

At our current set up most land fills are not set up to decompose, just store. Yes there is some decomp but not at any decent rate.

Most organic waste decomposes and ferments.

Meaning it releases larga amounts of methane, which is a worst greenhouse gas then CO2.

So its better to produce CO2 by burning it directly then let it leak Methane which is worst for the envirenment in the long run.

Then again, the best solution would be to separate all the organics and put them in bioreators with bacteria to have controlled production of methane and methanol which can later be used as fuels, the same can be done with sceptic tanks, basically turning human waste to fuel. the resulting solid mass post reaction is quite a decent fertelizer for crops.

You would probably need to spread the compost out over a very large area. It would maybe be possible in very small cities, but big cities generate so much waste that it’s much easier and more efficient to burn it.

Burning in a controlled manner at least allows the energy it contains to be recovered for other uses. That means that a certain amount of fossil fuel doesn’t have to be used.

In addition, decay can turn some of the carbon content to methane instead of carbon dioxide. That is s more potent greenhouse gas.

Biological communal waste will not make high quality expensive compost, so composting won’t bring one profit. Sometimes compost may even accidently end up polluted, so you will have extra costs not profit. Getting electricity and heat from burning such waste might be profitable, or at least cheaper than composting.