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.
7 Effective Solid Waste Disposal and Management Methods
- Preventing or Reducing Waste Generation
- Sanitary Landfill
- Disposal in Ocean/Sea
- 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 formidable shape. A conscious decision should be made at the personal and professional level to judiciously curb the menacing growth of wastes.
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.
Incineration features 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 varied degrees dependent on nature of waste combusted and incinerator design. 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 out of 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.
It involves 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.
- 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 ground water, 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 level and far from sources of flooding. However, a sufficient number of skilled manpower is required to maintain sanitary landfills.
- 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 its inherent nutrients.
- 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 which 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.
Effective waste disposal calls for concerted efforts from all, no matter how anxious or worried they may be about our environment.