The term solid waste management mainly refers to the complete process of collecting, treating and disposing of the solid wastes.
In the waste management process, the wastes are collected from the different sources and are disposed of. This process includes transportation, analysis, legal procedures, along with monitoring and enforcing regulations. There are a number of principles related to the waste management system, but a generally accepted concept is one of the ‘Hierarchy of Waste Management’.
The image above shows waste management strategies according to their maximum effect on waste minimization.
Sources of Solid Wastes
- Trash/garbage that is solid in nature (and not liquid or gas).
- Discarded solid material from industrial, municipal and agricultural activities.
- Household material consisting of everyday garbage, food and yard waste.
- Chemicals, plastics, toxic wastes, glass, metals, hospital wastes, etc.
- Includes construction waste, biomedical waste, electronic waste (or e-waste) or even sewage sludge as part of different industries.
The flowchart below illustrates the functional elements of waste management in a simple way.
Waste handling and disposal practices vary in different demographics. In India, the practices vary depending on the type of solid waste which has been classified as
⦁ Municipal Solid Waste.
⦁ Hazardous Solid Waste.
Municipal solid waste is again classified into different types like biodegradable substances (rotten or waste foodstuffs and general kitchen waste), recyclable materials and domestic hazardous waste (light bulbs, batteries, etc). Hazardous solid waste is industry generated which need special disposal techniques.
Solid waste management is an integral part of the environmental domain of any region. Inefficient waste disposal systems lead to environmental pollution along with presenting severe health hazards. As shown in the diagram above, solid waste management generally includes a collection of waste, transporting waste, processing and recycling it, and finally disposal of waste.
Today, the most general method of waste disposal is by using landfills. Olden landfills are being covered and the present day sanitary landfills are not just dumped sites. They are designed and customized pertaining to the region, type of waste and other environmental factors. The primary purpose of this is to dispose of waste effectively without causing health risks or contributing to environmental pollution.
Effects of Poor Solid Waste Management
Due to improper disposal of the solid waste particularly by waste management organizations, the collected wastes gets heap up and become a problem for both the environment and also for the public.
By dumping of huge garbage, drives biodegradable materials to decay and decompose under the abnormal, uncontrolled and unhygienic conditions. After a few days of decomposition, it becomes a breeding ground for different types of disease-causing insects as well as infectious organisms. A foul smell is produced and also spoils the aesthetic value of the area.
The solid wastes collected from different industries include toxic metals, chemicals, and other hazardous wastes. When these wastes are released into the environment, it can produce biological and physicochemical problems to the environment, the chemicals may drain into the soil and pollute the groundwater and also alter the productivity of the soils in that particular area.
In rare cases, the hazardous wastes may get mixed up with the ordinary garbage and other combustible wastes causing the disposal process even harder and risky.
By burning the paper and other scraps along with the hazardous wastes, dioxins and poisonous gasses are produced and released into the air which results in causing various diseases including chronic disease, skin infections, cancer, etc.
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