Waste disposal management continues to be a rising challenge as population grows and along with the industrial development of countries. Centuries ago, people would have the trash from their homes transported and dumped in the places far away from the city of village. Today, instead of open dumping, usually the trash is collected and transported to landfills and then buried. Of course, over these hundreds of years, processes have certainly become more sophisticated. Instead of just burying the trash in landfills, we also use methods like plasma gasification, ocean dumping, incineration and recycling. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Amongst the many waste management methods, using a landfill is probably the most practiced in more areas of the world than any other method. Landfills are often old and abandoned quarries and mining areas. Considered the most cost-effective way of waste disposal, about 75% of the cost of implementation is attributable to the collection and transportation of waste from residential and businesses to the landfills. The waste is layered in thin spreads and then compacted, with a layer of clean earth covering the waste material before more layers are added over time.
Incineration as a disposal method involves burning the trash. Sometimes this is simply referred to as thermal treatment, as a general category of high temperature treatment of trash material. This method can be used to transform waste into heat, gas, steam and ash. One of the advantages of incineration is that with this method, refuse volume can be reduced by half or more and it requires little usage of land. An incineration facility can be built in a small area to process huge amounts of waste. It definitely saves a lot of space compared with using a landfill only. This method is popular in countries like Japan where space is limited.
Recycling of waste material means taking the materials and transforming them into new products. This is a key concept in the modern waste minimization philosophy. It’s about lessening the strain on the environment through minimizing the need to fully dispose (eg. by incineration and causing air pollution) of the waste generated and reducing the need to introduce new raw materials into the environment and then having to dispose of them later. In your everyday living, you may already be separating out paper products, aluminum soda cans or glass bottles into different waste containers so that these could be recycled. When bring your own shopping bag to the supermarket instead of using a new plastic bag, that’s another way of recycling.