Last edited 15 Nov 2021

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Waste management - explained


[edit] Introduction

Waste management is the collection, transport, processing, recycling and/or disposal of waste materials produced by human activity.

Waste management reduces the effect of waste on the environment, health, and so on. It can also help reuse or recycle resources, such as; paper, cans, glass, and so on.

There are various type of waste management that include the disposal of solid, liquid, gaseous or hazardous substances. All of these different types of waste management require different methods of disposal and are usually handled by someone with the expertise in that field.

[edit] Waste management practices

Waste management practices vary based on location. If you compare the waste management practices of Canada to those of Mexico they will have significant differences. There are also differences based on things like residential versus industrial. Usually residential waste is handled by the local government and commercial or industrial waste is the responsibility of the creator of that waste.

There are many things that need to be taken into consideration when discussing waste management, such as disposal methods, recycling methods, avoidance and reduction methods, and transportation of waste.

[edit] Disposal methods

There are a few ways to dispose of waste materials. The two main methods of disposing of waste materials are landfill and incineration. Each method has advantages and disadvantages.

Landfill involves burying the waste to get rid of it. This method if done properly can be inexpensive and hygienic.

However, there are some countries that do not do this method properly and this can cause such issues as wind-blown litter, attraction of vermin, and generation of liquid leachate (the liquid that drains from a landfill). Another issue that might arise from landfills is gas (usually methane and carbon dioxide) when the waste breaks down over time. Usually landfills are established in disused quarries (type of open-pit mine), mining voids or borrow pits (an area where soil, gravel or sand has been dug for use in another location). Although there are a lot of negative effects of landfills if poorly designed most new ones are designed in a way to prevent negative effects.

Incineration involves the combustion of waste materials. With this method the waste material is heated to very high temperatures and is converted into materials such as: heat, gas, steam and ash. Incineration can be done on a small scale by individual people, such as in a fire, and also done on a much larger scale by an industry. This method of waste management is considered beneficial for such materials as medical waste, and it can be used to generate energy. However, it can be a controversial method of waste disposal because of the potential emission of gaseous pollutants.

[edit] Recycling methods

Recycling refers to the reuse or recovery of materials that would normally be considered waste. There are a few different methods of recycling such as: physical reprocessing, biological reprocessing, and energy recovery.

One of the most common methods of recycling is physical reprocessing. This is the method of taking waste materials such as empty beverage containers and using the material to create new materials. Normally, waste materials that can be physically reprocessed are collected by the local government and are then reprocessed into new products. Some common materials that are physically reprocessed include: aluminium beverage cans, steel food cans, glass bottles, newspapers, magazines, and cardboard.

Materials such as plants, food scraps, and paper products can also be decomposed into organic matter. The organic matter that is produced from this type of recycling can then be used for things such as landscaping or for agricultural uses. Usually this method of recycling is done by putting the materials in a dedicated container until they decompose.

The final method of of recycling is energy recovery. This method harnesses directly and indirectly the combustion fuel and other types of fuel produced from waste. These types of fuel can be produced by thermal treatment of the waste and used for such such as cooking, heating or energy generation.

[edit] Avoidance and reduction methods

The avoidance and reduction of waste is a very important part of waste management. Some methods of avoidance include; the reuse of second-hand products, repairing broken items and using them again, and designing products that are reusable.


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