Industrialized nations are grappling with the problem of expeditious and safe waste disposal. Non-biodegradable and toxic wastes like radioactive remnants can potentially cause irreparable damage to the environment and human health if not strategically disposed of.

Though waste disposal has been a matter of concern for several decades, the main problem has been taking massive proportions due to growth in population and industrialization, the two major factors that contribute to waste generation. Though some advancement is being made in waste disposal methods, they are still not adequate. The challenge is to detect newer and unhazardous methods of waste disposal and put these methods to use.

What is waste management?

Waste management is a process that combines all the activities necessary for managing waste – collection of garbage, transportation, and disposal of the trash. Its primary purpose is to lessen the waste of unusable materials and avoid potential environmental and health risks.

The waste can be in any form – liquid, solid, gas – but with the help of waste management processes, each state has its own disposal methods. It offers a variety of solutions to recycle the waste, which ultimately leads down to finding ways to recycle it as a valuable resource.

Containers for Waste Storage at Home

Benefits of Waste Management

Let’s take a closer look at all the advantages that the process of waste management serves:

  1. Better Environment
    A clean and green environment to breathe in is what everyone wishes for, and waste management has a considerable contribution to the well-being of the environment and the people. Placing multiple waste disposals in cities will help the environment stay cleaner and maintain proper sanitation in the city.

  2. Reduced Pollution
    Waste management does not merely reduce waste from the environment but also eliminates the impact of harmful greenhouse gases like methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. This decreases the reliance on landfills for waste deposit that adversely affects the environment.

  3. Energy Conservation
    Recycling is a big part of waste management. One classic example of saving the environment with recycling is traced back to the practice of recycling paper. If a used paper is recycled, the need to cut down more trees reduces. This helps in conserving energy and reducing carbon footprints.

  4. Increases Employment Opportunities
    If more people start adopting waste management practices, it creates a need for organizations to sell recycled products. This creates several employment opportunities for people.
  5. Helps Create a Change
    Although you cannot completely get rid of waste, you can reduce the waste by recycling it through eco-friendly practices. This creates a classic example for people around you to adopt the change and embrace a more sustainable approach.

Which are the effective solid waste disposal and management methods?

Below are the seven effective methods of solid waste disposal and management:

  1. Preventing or Reducing Waste Generation
  2. Recycling
  3. Incineration
  4. Composting
  5. Sanitary Landfill
  6. Disposal in Ocean/Sea
  7. Plasma Gasification

 

Preventing or reducing waste generation

Extensive use of new or unnecessary products is the root cause of unchecked waste formation. The rapid population growth makes it imperative to use secondhand products or judiciously use the existing ones because if not, there is a potential risk of people succumbing to the ill effects of toxic wastes. Disposing of the wastes will also assume a formidable shape. A conscious decision should be made at the personal and professional level to judiciously curb the menacing growth of waste.

Preventing or reducing waste generation

Recycling

What is recycling? Recycling serves to transform the wastes into products of their own genre through industrial processing. Paper, glass, aluminum, and plastics are commonly recycled. It is environmentally friendly to reuse the wastes instead of adding them to nature. However, processing technologies are pretty expensive.

Waste sorting

importance of segregating waste

 

Incineration

What is Incineration? Incineration features the combustion of wastes to transform them into base components, with the generated heat being trapped for deriving energy. Assorted gases and inert ash are common by-products. Pollution is caused by varying degrees dependent on the nature of waste combusted and incinerator design. The use of filters can check pollution. It is rather inexpensive to burn wastes and the waste volume is reduced by about 90%. The nutrient-rich ash derived from burning organic wastes can facilitate hydroponic solutions. Hazardous and toxic wastes can be easily be rid of by using this method. The energy extracted can be used for cooking, heating, and supplying power to turbines. However, strict vigilance and due diligence should be exercised to check the accidental leakage of micro-level contaminants, such as dioxins from incinerator lines.

Incineration

Composting

What is composting? It involves the decomposition of organic wastes by microbes by allowing the waste to stay accumulated in a pit for a long period of time. The nutrient-rich compost can be used as plant manure. However, the process is slow and consumes a significant amount of land. Biological reprocessing tremendously improves the fertility of the soil.

composting

Sanitary Landfill

This involves the dumping of wastes into a landfill. The base is prepared of a protective lining, which serves as a barrier between wastes and groundwater, and prevents the separation of toxic chemicals into the water zone. Waste layers are subjected to compaction and subsequently coated with an earth layer. Soil that is non-porous is preferred to mitigate the vulnerability of accidental leakage of toxic chemicals. Landfills should be created in places with low groundwater levels and far from sources of flooding. However, a sufficient number of skilled manpower is required to maintain sanitary landfills.

sanitary landfill

Disposal in ocean/sea

Wastes generally of radioactive nature are dumped in the oceans far from active human habitats. However, environmentalists are challenging this method, as such an action is believed to spell doom for aquatic life by depriving the ocean waters of their inherent nutrients.

waste-and-plastic-pollution-on-the-beach-environment

Plasma Gasification

What is Plasma Gasification? Plasma gasification is an environment-friendly waste disposal method. It is used to convert commodity recyclables extracted from the municipal solid waste in the landfill into energy. The carbon-based materials are exposed to high temperatures and converted to syngas, a gas that can either be directly combusted or further refined into chemicals and higher-grade fuels. The non-organic part of the waste is converted to slag–cooled, tightly bound solid waste which can be used in construction as a raw material. Industries that strive to achieve zero waste prefer this waste disposal method.

plasma gasification
Effective waste disposal calls for concerted efforts from all, no matter how anxious or worried they may be about our environment.

Also Read: 10 Ways Technology is Innovating Waste Management