What is waste management?
The concept of waste management involves the collection, removal, processing, and disposal of materials considered waste. Waste materials can be solid, gaseous, liquid, or even hazardous and are generally generated through human activity. Historically, developed nations have dealt with their waste by sending it to landfills or burning it in incinerators. Both of these options come with some significant environmental problems.
- Leachate which is the liquid that passes through landfills’ garbage, absorbing poisons and other harmful substances that negatively impact underground waterways and fresh water systems.
- Wind can scatter trash from a landfill into local ecosystems and waterways, creating hazards for wildlife and people, as well as visual pollution of local environments.
- As organic waste rots it creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 20+ times more potent in terms of climate change than carbon dioxide.
- Incineration, both in backyards and on a commercial scale, emits air pollutants, including things like dioxins, furans, and particulate matter.
Of course, one of the problems with this way of viewing waste management is that it assumes the stuff we throw in the trash has no value – that it is indeed “waste.”
The global population is expected to produce 3.40 tonnes of solid waste by 2050. With statistics like these, we need to turn our thinking around and think of leftover materials as resources for making new products. Here, the problem of “waste management” becomes an opportunity for resource extraction – a new way of “mining” the earth for materials to use in the manufacturing stream.
An integrated waste management approach attempts to solve this problem by considering the entire life cycle of a product and determining the best processing method for it in order to extract as much useful material while saving energy, water, and other resources.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Waste management is the process of collecting, treating, recycling, and disposing of different waste materials to reduce the environmental impact of waste.
Waste management can recycle a wide variety of materials, including paper, metal, plastic, glass, food waste, and electronic equipment. It can also take advantage of composting to reduce the amount of organic material that enters landfills.
The future trends in waste management include increased recycling and reuse. Improved technology for better waste collection, sorting, and management systems can also be expected. Additionally, reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place remains an increasing priority. This is achieved through practices such as:
- Prioritizing the use of reusable materials
- Reducing packaging in products
- Encouraging composting and home recycling
- Adopting green building standards.