Sunday, September 11, 2011

Waste Management

By Michael Powers 

Waste Management is basically explained as the collection, transport, processing, recycling and/or disposal of waste materials. These waste materials are produced by human activity. Waste Management is what is done to reduced the effect of waste on the environment, peoples health, and other things along that nature. As well we can use waste management to reuse some of the resources. People will recycle such things as old newspapers, pop cans, glass jars, etc and by doing this it helps the environment in the long run because we don't have to dispose of all those materials. There are various type of waste management that include the disposal of: solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive 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.
Waste Management practices obvious vary based on where in the world you live. If you compare the waste management practicies of Canada to that of say Mexico they will most likely have there differences. There is also differences based on things like residential versus industrial. Usually residential waste is handled by the local government and commercial or industrial waste can sometimes be 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. All of these topics will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
Disposal Methods There are a few ways to dispose of waste materials. The two main methods of disposing of waste materials is landfills and incineration. Each methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Landfills involves burying the waste to get rid of it. This method if done properly can be very inexpensive and hygienic. Many people probably think this method would be very unhygienic but that really depends if it is done properly or not. There are some countries that do not do this method properly and it 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 is the second method of disposing waste. This method 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 large scale by an industry. This method of waste management is considered beneficial for such materials as medical waste. This method however is also a very controversial method of waste disposal because of the emission of gaseous pollutants (green house effect).

Recycling Methods Recycling refers to the reuse or recover 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. People are always looking for new ways as well to recycle materials because of the constant issues we are having with waste in our environment.
One of the most popular method of recycling is physical reprocessing. This is common in most countries. 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 usually collected by the local government and are then reprocessed into new products. Some common materials that are physically reprocessed include: aluminum beverage cans, steel food cans, glass bottles, newpapers, magazines, and cardboard.

Biological reprocessing is another common method of recycling that many people do. Materials such as plants, food scraps, and paper products can be decomposed into the organic matter. The organic matter that is produced from this type of recycling can then be used for such things as landscaping purpose or agricultural uses. Usually this method of recycling is done by putting the materials in a dedicated container and let to stay there until it decomposes.

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 things as cooking or heating. The thermal treatment is usually done under very high pressure in a sealed vessel.
Avoidance and Reduction Methods The avoidance and reduction of waste is a very important part of waste management. By reducing waste it helps the environment and everyone in it. Some methods of avoidance include the reuse of second-hand products, repairing broken items and using them again, and designing products that are reusable. As well consumers are encouraged to not use disposable products and use products are designed to help the environment.

Transportation of Waste There are a few way waste is handled. In most countries waste dispose is handled by the local government authorities. In other countries there is no such systems in place and disposal of waste is more difficult. In countries such as Canada and the United States curbside collection is common and occurs weekly. In some countries in Europe they have a collection system known as Envac which conveys refuse via underground conduits using a vacuum system.

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