Waste or trash is a border term that includes all those items that are discarded. These can be generated from various sources, such as industries, businesses, households, and institutions. There are multiple types of waste, including solid, liquid, hazardous, organic, medical, and radioactive waste.
The principle of the 3 R’s can be used for managing waste more sustainably as it states to reduce, resume, and recycle. Effective waste management is required to prevent pollution and conserve natural resources.
It directly impacts the environment you are living in, so its management becomes essential for protecting human health and ecosystems. This blog will highlight the historical background along with a detailed description of the process of collecting waste and appropriately disposing of it.
During ancient times, the concept of waste management never existed, and people used to throw trash or waste on the streets.
Early Waste Disposal
Greece was the first country to evolve a system for waste removal. During that period, people of ancient Rome were held responsible for cleaning the streets fronting their property only.
Back then, the concept of organized waste collection was only associated with state-sponsored events, and it was disposed of in open pits located outside city walls. Even at this time, smaller towns were unaware of the concept of waste collection and disposal.
Developments in Waste Management
Later in the 19th century, watertight garbage bins were introduced. Sturdier vehicles were used for its collection and transport. During the first half of the 20th century, technology advanced with the development of garbage grinders, compaction trucks, and pneumatic collection systems.
People started realizing that their health problems are prevailing because of open dumping and improper incineration of waste, especially solid waste. It then led to modern waste management, including the procedure of recycling and waste decline at the source.
Solid Waste Characteristics
The characteristics of waste should be studied properly before applying any treatment to it. The composition, properties, generation, and storage of waste are discussed below:
Composition and Properties
Waste is generally classified as garbage and rubbish. Garbage is all decomposable food waste, whereas rubbish includes dry materials like glass, paper, wood, etc. Therefore, it is non-decomposable. Rubbish also includes trash, which are bulky items like couches, large tree stumps, and old refrigerators.
It is mostly decomposed in municipal sanitary landfills. Electronic waste is another category of waste that is the fastest-growing component nowadays. It includes televisions, telephones, computer equipment, and other electronic devices.
Generation and Storage
Waste initially needs to be stored properly to be disposed of or recycled appropriately. Color-coded separate bins should be used to store waste separately at the source. It will require less effort and manpower to segregate it at the time of recycling.
These bins should also be placed in public places for their easy transportation to te recycling places.
Collection of Waste
The collection of waste is necessary because it directly impacts the health of individuals residing in that place.
Collecting and Transporting
The collection and transporting process is a labor-intensive process as it requires one driver and two loaders with each vehicle. The segregated generation of waste makes it easy for them to load it and store it in specific containers accordingly.
It also reduces their time, and the risk of injury is also eliminated as they’ll be aware of the nature of the waste due to color-coded bins.
Mostly, the processing or disposal sites are out of the city area, which requires a larger vehicle like tractor trailer unit to transfer all the waste to its destination. These units are known to be transfer stations. These open-top trailers are designed to carry 100 cubic yards of uncompacted waste. These stations handle:
- Municipal Solid Waste (MSW);
- Demolition Debris.
These also have the facility to compact the waste to reduce its volume before transportation.
Waste Treatment and Disposal
The final part of this whole process is the treatment and disposal of the waste being generated, collected, and stored. Treatment reduces the volume and form of the waste making it easier to handle, along with recovery of certain natural sources to be used again.
It is a process that is used to convert waste into energy like heat and electricity. Modern incinerators use a properly designed furnace to burn the waste.
This process reduces the volume of waste, which is preferred for areas with limited landfill space. As it is a burning process, scrubbers, and filters are used to neutralize pollutants.
A specific process is used to turn organic materials into nutrient-rich soil. It is a natural process to manage organic waste like kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, peels of fruits and vegetables, eggshells, yard waste, leaves, branches, grass clippings, animal manure, paper products, cardboard, and shredded newspaper.
The safe disposal of municipal solid waste can be done using the process of sanitary landfill. These are often confused with open dumps, but a sanitary landfill minimizes its impact on water, air, and soil by carrying multiple layers of protection.
Bottom liners made of synthetic materials are present to prevent liquid from infiltrating into the underlying soil. Once a certain area of landfill reaches its full capacity, then it is covered to promote vegetation growth on it.
Once the already separated waste is collected from the source, it is transported to Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) for sorting and processing.
Recycling offers multiple advantages, such as the preservation of natural resources, mitigation of pollution, and the need for extraction of raw materials. Recycling is an essential component of an eco-friendly and sustainable environment.
Waste management is no longer an unknown concept for anyone. It is paramount for preserving natural resources and mitigating their impact on our environment. Efficient waste management is not the responsibility of anyone rather, it is a collective effort of homeowners, industrialists, collectors, and waste management.
Educationists also play a vital role in creating awareness and inculcating a culture of responsible waste disposal. Lastly, waste management is not just a practical necessity rather, it is a commitment to preserve this planet for future generations.