Meaning of waste management.
Waste management means managing our waste well. This can, in its turn, mean several things. For example, waste management could consist of minimizing waste, or it could consist of finding a good home for our waste – whether through recycling practices or by finding an environmentally friendly way to contain and dispose of that waste.
Surely it should be argued that good waste management consists of both of these phenomena: making sure that there is only a minimum amount of waste to be disposed of in the first place, and then secondly disposing of it in the best possible way.
Now that we have clarified what waste management consists of, let’s take a look at why it is so important to always be thinking about how we can best manage our waste.
The importance of waste management.
Good waste management systems are so important for protecting human health, keeping our planet in good shape, and ensuring that all of our waste is put to good use. There are so many reasons why good waste management is important. To give a convenient overview, however, here are 10 of the central reasons why it is so crucial to have adequate and effective waste management strategies in place at all times.
1. Human health: if waste of any kind is allowed to build up, human health can suffer. Just think about your own home: you would hate to live surrounded by unemptied trash cans as they could harbour diseases and present you with obstacles that you could trip over. The same goes for the whole world, but on a larger scale: poor waste management results in human beings getting injured or falling sick.
2. Protecting marine life: plastics in the ocean are finding their ways into the stomachs of marine animals, with devastatingly harmful effects. Good waste management means keeping waste where it ought to be: in a suitable container or recycling plant and out of our precious oceans and other waterways.
3. Providing jobs: the waste management industry provides millions of jobs worldwide. These range from labour based jobs like lifting waste and transporting it to the most suitable site for disposal and more specialist jobs revolving around planning more and more efficient and environmentally friendly waste management systems. In short, the waste management system is a vital part of any economy.
4. Preventing dangerous chemicals from poisoning our planet: all kinds of waste can contain very harmful chemicals that, if not properly contained and managed, can leach onto agricultural land and wild land, or into water and kill all the organisms in its path. Take household batteries, for example: these contain heavy metals which spell death and disaster to fish. Industrial waste can be similarly dangerous, but on a much larger scale and as such needs to be very carefully managed.
5. Finding use in waste: any good waste management programme will include some element of recycling to it. All kinds of waste can actually be put to good use. Waste paper can become more paper, for instance, whilst the waste metals left over from industrial manufacturing processes can themselves be melted down and manufactured into new items. It is almost always the case that recycling all recyclable waste is more environmentally friendly than just dumping that waste into landfill.
6. Protecting confidential waste: some waste should not be seen by the public eye. Think about confidential papers from a hospital or a school, for instance, or even papers which contain the names and addresses of the clients of a particular company. Here, good waste management means shredding this confidential waste and disposing of it in such as way as to ensure that other people’s confidentiality is not compromised.
7. Accurately labelling dangerous waste: nuclear waste, radioactive waste, and medical waste are just a few forms of waste materials that could be dangerous for human beings to touch. A good waste management system will ensure that this type of waste is not just carefully contained: it is also accurately labelled so that its dangers are explained.
8. Dealing with each type of waste properly: rubble from a building site is a very different type of waste to garden compost. Each type of waste needs to be dealt with in its own way. Lumping all waste together means that items that could be recycled are contaminated by items that cannot, and that relatively harmless waste (for example, compost which could be used to grow new food) is polluted by harmful materials (such as the metals in batteries, as discussed above).
9. Dealing with the visual aspect of waste: buildups of waste do not look good. In fact, they look awful! Dealing in a visually unappealing environment is depressing, and if people live surrounded visibly by poorly managed waste they will be less inclined to take care of where they live, thus making their environment even worse. It will be a race to the bottom. Thus, waste management, when done well, ensures that the planet continues to be a pleasant place to live.
10. Driving innovation: engineering, environmental studies, urban planning, and innovative thing outside the box when it comes to recycling all play a part in an excellent waste management programme. So, a sustained focus on improving our waste management systems also drives human innovation, propelling us forward to make new discoveries in all kinds of fields.
Waste management is of crucial importance. Some people do not like to talk – or even think – about waste. They think it is an unsavory topic. But, we should all be thinking about waste management because, for the reasons discussed above, it is so important to all of our lives.
Key methods of waste management.
There are plenty of different waste management systems at work in the world today, and this article below will provide a good overview of the key methods of waste management.
1. Landfill: landfill is a very common, but also a notorious form of waste disposal. Landfill sites are designated sites where waste is piled up in large mounds. Landfill sites are usually strategically chosen so that they are far away from the spaces where humans live and work. Sometimes, when landfill sites are retired, they are covered over with earth which can then be planted on to create a green space. Nevertheless, if possible, it is best to manage our waste using other waste management methods so that we minimize the amount of refuse that is simply tossed into the ever growing mountain of landfill.
2. Incineration: several waste management methods involve compressing, packaging and incinerating waste. This happens at a large waste management plant in Greenwich in the UK, for example. Of course, it is important to ensure that there are no harmful chemicals or anything else that could release dangerous gases into the air when the waste is incinerated. If the incinerator has a smoke swallowing chimney, the effect on the environment will be minimised. Incineration means that waste ultimately takes up less space than it does in landfill. Some people choose to incinerate their own waste at home, though if you do so it is crucial to be attentive to safety and to purchase an incinerator with a smoke swallowing chimney that is angled away from your neighbour’s properties so that no noxious fumes escape that could make yourselves or anybody living close to you ill.
3. Turning the waste into energy: incineration or turning waste into biomass can generate thermal energy. This in its turn can be used to heat our homes. The best and most environmentally friendly methods of waste management are geared towards putting waste to good use, though this is just one example of how this can be done.
4. Recycling: you might be surprised by how much of your waste can be 100% recycled. Paper and cardboard can be turned into new paper and cardboard. Aluminium cans can be melted down and turned into new aluminium items. Scrap metals can also be melted down, and so can glass and some plastics. Any good waste management system will thus work closely in conjunction with recycling facilities to ensure that the maximum amount of possible waste is recycled. Recycling is much more environmentally friendly than both manufacturing new goods and putting those goods into landfill. So, recycling waste is a win win situation. We can all take part in this by educating ourselves about recycling, and doing our bit to recycle as much of our waste as we can.
5. Composting: biodegradable waste can be turned into a rich and nutrient packed compost that can either be bagged up and sold to garden centres for everyday people to buy, or that can be spread commercially on agricultural land. This could be described as a form of recycling. Composting can be done in a central fashion by the municipal authorities, but we can also compost our own food and garden waste at home. Purchase a compost bin (or make one from an old bucket or a space reserved in your garden) and introduce a community of composting earthworms to it, and it will be turned into delightful compost that will help your garden to flourish. Small kitchen counter composting bins or worm farms can also be purchased for apartments and smaller properties. Everything from leaf mulch to coffee grounds can be composted!
6. Containing dangerous substances: batteries, nuclear waste, chemically treated earth (for example from agricultural land that has been treated with fertilisers or pesticides), rubble from a house that contains asbestos and medical waste have one thing in common: they should not be mixed in with other waste in landfill or in a recycling, composting, or incinerating plant. This is because of the extremely hazardous substances that they can contain. Good methods of waste management will thus always involve some system for containing and dealing with hazardous waste. First and foremost, this means separating it from other types of waste so that it does not contaminate recyclables or waste that could be turned into energy. This enables hazardous substances to be adequately contained and disposed of separately. Even the batteries in your household electricals contain very dangerous metals such as mercury which, if they are thrown into landfill, can cause problems like acid rain, or (via the process of ‘leaching’ whereby rainwater or groundwater washes chemicals into lakes and rivers) contaminate natural water systems and kill fish and other organisms that live in them.
7. Minimising the amount of waste generated in the first place: being a conscious consumer, not throwing away items that could be reused and repaired, and generally buying fewer newly manufactured products are all key ways of supporting good methods of waste management. This is because waste management methods will be much more successful, and substantially more environmentally friendly, if there is less waste for us to manage in the first place. So be a more thoughtful and eco friendly consumer starting from today!
Waste management effects us all. We all produce waste, and we can all contribute towards its good management. Reuse, recycle, and purchase less and you will help to safeguard the planet for future generations. Participate in one of the more eco-friendly methods of waste management by looking to see if you can harness waste to heat your home. Get into good habits of recycling your waste and of turning food waste into compost. Yes, good methods of waste management should be organised by the authorities, but they can also start in our very own home.