Waste disposal means getting rid of waste. Waste can mean many things: it might mean the household waste that you place in your bins or it might mean compost from the garden – or, it could be industrial waste such as the waste metals left over from the manufacturing process.
Disposing of waste properly is essential for ensuring that we do not harm our planet – and that we do not expose human and animal life to dangerous waste. Here, we explore the key waste disposal methods.
What are the main waste disposal methods?
These methods of waste disposal are at work – or under development – throughout the world today. Some are more advantageous than others, whilst some are suited only to specific types of waste.
1. Landfill: as the name landfill suggests, this method of waste disposal involves digging a large pit and filling it with waste. This is a common waste disposal method for household waste. Landfill sites should be placed away from residential areas and from schools, for health and safety reasons. When finished with, they can sometimes be covered over with soil and planted to create a park or similar.
2. Incineration: though incineration does generate smoke and fumes, if a smoke swallowing chimney is used, these are kept to a minimum. Incineration means that waste ultimately takes up less space as it is turned into ash that can be compacted and buried. Incineration is also often deemed to be the safest way to get rid of sensitive types of medical waste and confidential documents that could potentially be recovered if they were just thrown into a landfill site.
3. Containment and storage: some types of waste like nuclear waste and industrial chemical waste cannot be recycled, composted, or thrown into landfill because it is far too dangerous to be anywhere near human activity and it would severely pollute our land, air, and water on contact with them. So, it needs to be contained securely using appropriate materials and then stored securely in a special facility that cannot be tampered with (often guards are used to prevent people accidentally or deliberately accessing dangerous waste).
4. Firing into space: some companies have actually trialled the idea of firing our waste, in a compacted and safe form, out into outer space to get it off the planet once and for all. However, this needs to be done with great precision as the outer layers of the earth’s atmosphere are already plagued with ‘space junk’ which is clogging up the orbits of satellites and space craft. If fired into space, our waste would have to be fired far from the earth’s orbit so that it does not stick around. There is also the consideration that disposing of waste in this weigh could harm the environment due to the large amounts of fuel needed in order to propel it so far away from earth.
5. Recycling: this is a more green method of waste disposal. Aluminium, paper, cardboard, and glass can be recycled pretty much 100%. Your old milk bottle just needs to be cleaned and sterilized and it can be reused, whilst that aluminium car part can be totally melted down and turned into a drinks can. What is more, the process of recycling glass or aluminium or similar items has a lower carbon footprint and uses less water than does the process of manufacturing new items from these materials. Recycling as much of our waste as possible is highly recommended as it is better for the planet. So many things can be recycled, including old textiles and plastic bottles – so keep yourself informed about what to recycle and how this can be done in your area.
6. Composting: food waste and garden waste are rich in nutrients, so it is a shame to throw them into landfill. In a compost bin or a worm farm, coffee grounds, old banana skins, and leaf mulch can become a very effective organic fertilizer – no need for chemicals to enable your garden to grow and to flourish! Composting waste can be done by you as an individual at home, or it can be done on an industrial or municipal scale. This form of waste disposal is also a very green option and you would be surprised at the number of things that can be composted and disposed of in this way, including shredded paper and used tea bags.
7. Reusing and repurposing: a lot of the waste that we throw away is actually quite useful. A wooden piece of furniture can be mended and reused, and the electrical components in a broken kettle or microwave can be removed and used to make new items. It’s all about changing the way that we think about waste, and looking for potential usefulness in a ‘waste’ object before we dispose of it completely by other means.
Dispose of your waste responsibly. It is so much better for our planet if we generate less waste in the first place, and we can do this by looking after our possessions more carefully, purchasing fewer new items, and eschewing products that come in a lot of unnecessary packaging. But, if we must dispose of waste, it is crucial to do so in the most environmentally friendly way possible. So, before you throw something in the bin to be incinerated or taken to landfill, ask yourself first whether it can be reused, repurposed, composted or recycled. You will be amazed by how much less waste you start to throw away once you begin adhering to this principle.