How is waste treated and disposed off?
Waste management simply means the collection, transport, processing or disposal, managing and monitoring of waste materials to minimize its' consequences on humans and environment.
There are several methods of managing all the various types of waste. Some of these methods cause additional harm to the environment, but not doing anything is not an option.
Let us see below two common ways of managing waste:
Incineration method of waste management:
This simply means burning waste. This method is common in countries with limited landfill space. Incineration chambers can be small for domestic use, but ther are large ones for municipal use as well. It is great for treating waste with contamination (like those from hospitals) and hazardous waste from factories, but the method produces too much carbon dioxide (see our air pollution lesson). Modern incineration processes are more efficient and release less dioxin than home fireplaces and backyard barbecues. This method is very common in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. This method is effective, but expensive.
Sanitary Landfills as waste disposal:
Generally, this term means a large piece of land away from living places where all the waste from a town is deposited. But there is more to landfills. Proper landfill management involves sorting out all the waste (waste separation), and sending only the waste that cannot be recycled and composted to the site.
Proper landfills, are also lined at the bottom to minimize the leakage of soil pollutants and other toxins from getting into the water table. This method is effective, but expensive and difficult.
In many towns, sorting is not done, and all the waste (paper, food, diapers, glass) is mixed up and deposited. That is a problem because, glass, and plastics take thousands of years to decompose. Additionally, the landfills soon become full, smelly and unsafe for the environment.
Proper waste management is not cheap, but it is something we all have to get involved and discuss it. The effect of not getting involved can be catastrophic to our health and environment.