Waste management involves reducing and adequately disposing of commercial, industrial, and household waste. Junk Day Louisville KY addresses the issue of hazardous waste. Which can cause environmental and health hazards if not handled correctly.
Start by identifying the different waste streams at your facility. Once you’ve done that, set goals for your facility to achieve and track its progress over time.
Many people believe that recycling is the best way to make our environment greener. It certainly has its merits, especially if the right items are recycled properly. It is also a great way to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills and incinerators, which can pollute the air, water and soil with toxic chemicals.
Recycling involves processing materials that would otherwise be sent to the trash and remanufacturing them into new products. In the United States, this process is known as the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Almost any material can be recycled, from paper and cardboard to glass, metals and plastics. It can even include old clothing and mattresses. In most cities and towns, residents can place recyclables in curbside bins for pickup. Larger materials can be dropped off at a local recycling center.
Some materials can be recycled over and over without losing their purity, such as paper, aluminum and glass. Other materials, such as polystyrene foam and some kinds of plastic bags, are reprocessed into different forms of that material, such as egg cartons, building insulation or plastic furniture. Newspaper is often reprocessed into other paper products such as egg cartons, construction paper, or kitty litter.
Reprocessing recycles saves natural resources by reducing the need to harvest or mine for fresh raw materials. This helps protect the world’s limited supply of natural resources and reduces pollution caused by mining, logging and land clearing. It also conserves energy because producing products from recycled materials takes less energy than producing them from raw materials.
Moreover, recycling diverts materials from landfills and incinerators, which require substantial amounts of land and resources for waste storage. It also reduces the need to rely on non-renewable fuels for power generation, which can lead to global climate change.
It can be easy to forget that not all items are recyclable, so it is important to check labels and educate yourself on what can and cannot be recycled. Also, encourage others to do the same, and help them get in the habit of putting all of their trash in appropriate receptacles.
Incineration is a process whereby waste is burned at high temperatures in an incinerator. The reaction converts carbon molecules and hydrocarbons into flue gases, ash, and water. The incineration process is often used to treat clinical waste and hazardous materials, as it can withstand very high temperatures required for pathogen inactivation and toxic contamination destruction.
In the many of these wastes are burned in waste-to-energy furnaces, or “waste-to-energy” (WTE) plants. This energy is then used to produce electricity.
This process produces air pollutants and other byproducts that are detrimental to human health, including a large quantity of greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides, dioxins, and non-methane organic compounds. Moreover, a large percentage of the incinerators are located in low-income and communities of color, which experience increased rates of cancer diagnoses, reproductive complications, respiratory issues, and other health problems due to proximity to these facilities.
Although recycling, reuse, and composting help reduce the amount of material that must be incinerated, these methods have not made up for the massive increase in volume of nondurables since 1960. This is largely because durable items like paper, glass, metals, and textiles are being replaced with single-use plastics and non-biodegradable containers and packaging.
The incineration of these wastes releases a large amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and produces a significant amount of ash that must be stored or placed back on the land. These wastes can also create toxins and poisonous leachate that contaminate underground water systems, causing unsafe salts, heavy metals, volatile organic chemicals and other contaminants to leach into the groundwater.
Incineration is often referred to as “chemical recycling,” but unlike traditional reprocessing, which uses chemicals and other processing steps to transform the waste into useful products or fuel, the waste-to-energy incineration process simply burns the waste, which then forms a gas that is turned into electricity through steam turbines. This electricity is then sent into the grid and sold to households and businesses.
As the world’s population grows and urbanization increases, so do pressures on limited natural resources. Arup’s sustainable solutions help clients reuse, recycle or recover valuable materials from waste, reducing dependence on raw material extraction and fostering a more circular economy.
Throughout most of human history, the amount of waste produced was minimal. Pre-industrial societies generated ashes and biodegradable organic material, which were released into the soil with little impact. In addition, the raw materials needed for tools were either gathered locally or passed from one generation to the next. In the 19th century, industrialization increased the production of both solid and liquid wastes. This led to the need for better waste management and disposal practices.
In recent times, many communities have started to view their waste as a resource rather than something that must be sent to landfills. For example, many items discarded contain valuable metals that can be recycled to create new products. Paper products can be turned into mulch or even woodchips that are used in horticulture and other commercial applications. The nutrient rich organic material contained in human excreta is also a useful resource when it is separated from urine and feces (known as ecological sanitation) and used to produce compost or energy through anaerobic digestion.
Many countries and cities have implemented recycling programs and other waste management strategies to take advantage of the potential of these waste streams. , for instance, uses state-of-the-art waste-to-energy facilities to convert its municipal solid waste into electricity and heat. This method of waste management reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is used and helps to prevent environmental damage.
In the past, before cities instituted garbage collection and landfills were closed to the public, many people made a living by sorting through open dumps, separating usable items from unwanted trash and collecting scrap metal. Once economics joined environmentalism, however, these individuals were replaced by companies that specialized in waste recovery. Today, these companies collect everything from old refrigerators to discarded clothing and scrap metal to use as raw materials in the manufacture of new products.
Waste-to-energy is another way that the discarded waste we produce can be put to use. This energy-from-waste method turns non-recyclable waste into heat and electricity. WtE can be achieved either through direct combustion using waste incinerators or by producing a combustible fuel from waste using processes like anaerobic digestion and plasma gasification.
The most common WtE system is the mass-burn system, in which unprocessed MSW is dumped into a large incinerator and burned to generate electricity (see image below). The energy generated from burning waste is used to boil water, which then turns into steam and drives turbines that create electricity. In addition, the hot steam can also be used for heating purposes.
This system is incredibly energy efficient, as compared to landfills and other forms of MSW disposal. However, the energy efficiency of this type of system can be offset by the environmental costs associated with burning waste. One of the major drawbacks to this waste-to-energy approach is that the burning of trash emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. This is a problem that has been well-documented, and it’s why responsible waste management plans are now looking toward zero-waste efforts and more sustainable energy sources to power our world.
Another issue with this process is that it doesn’t recover valuable resources from the waste. For example, metals are often left behind in the combustion process, which can be a big disadvantage if the goal is to reduce waste and protect our planet. It would be much better if those metals could be recycled instead of being lost to the abyss in an incinerator.
The bottom line is that reducing the amount of trash we produce is always preferred to disposal methods that don’t give back to our environment or community. We can all help by refusing single-use plastics and excessive packaging, maximizing reuse, recycling as much as possible, and supporting local, zero-waste businesses. If we can keep our waste to a minimum, the world will be a safer place for everyone. Thanks for reading, and keep up the good work!