Chapter 17: Waste Management

Waste
Any unwanted material that results from human activities or processes. Can degrade human health, water quality, air quality, and soil quality. Divided into three categories based on its source: Municipal Solid Waste, Industrial Solid Waste, and Hazardous Waste
Municipal Solid Waste
Non-liquid waste that comes from homes, institutions, small businesses. The more people, the more waste produced (increased 72% since 1960). Paper and plastic products are the largest part of wastes to date. Developed countries deal with their waste better
Industrial Solid Waste
Waste from production of consumer goods, mining, agriculture, and petroleum extraction and processing
Hazardous Waste
Solid or liquid waste that is toxic, chemically reactive, flammable, or corrosive – Home or industrial
Wastewater
Water that comes from our household, business, public facilities that drains of flushes down our sewer systems, industry, or runoff from out streets and storm drains
Source (Waste) Reduction
An approach to waste management that minimizes the amount of waste we generate – Best option
Waste Stream
Flow of waste as it moves from source->disposal destinations
Sanitary Landfills
Waste is buried in the ground or piled in large, engineered mounds “the dump”. Regulated by local, state, and federal regulations for safety and pollution control. Decomposed by bacteria and fungi, and soil laters act to cover waste and promote reduced odor
Leachate
A fluid that seeps from decomposing landfill sites in sanitary landfill construction – monitored and collected
Scrubbers
A chemical treatment of gases produced by incinerators to clean liquid and solids
“Waste to Energy” Facilities (WTE)
Facilities that uses burn waste in order to generate electricity
Landfill Gas
A mix of gases produced as a byproduct of decomposition that consists of about half methane which can be burned to produce electricity
Composting
The conversion of organic waste into mulch/leaf litter through natural biological processes of decomposition keeping organic material out of sanitary landfills (enriches soil)
Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs)
People and machines sort through items, then prep them for processing
Bottle Bills
Policy that allows customers to return bottles and cans to stores after use and receive a refund to help the reduction of wastes
Industrial Waste
Waste from factories, mining, agriculture, petroleum extraction
Industrial Ecology
Redesigning industrial systems to reduce waste output
Life Cycle Analysis
The assessment of the effect a product has on the environment from the initial concept to disposal. The U.S is known as a “throwaway society”
Synthetic Organic Compounds
Substances manufactured from organic chemicals (carbon-based) such as pesticides, cleaning compounds, and plastics that can cause various illnesses in humans and animals, including birth defects, cancers, and kidney disorders
Electronic Waste (e-waste)
Waste involving electronic devices like Coltan, Tantalum, VCR’s, printers, etc
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
Enacted in 1976 to give EPA “Cradle to Grave” authority on hazardous waste.
Surface Impoundments
Sites that temporarily store liquid hazardous waste
Deep-Well Injection
When humans inject hazardous waste way underground to keep it from contaminating groundwater
CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act)
Aka Superfund; Passed in 1980 with the goal of identifying and cleaning up abandoned hazardous waste sites
Brown-fields
Abandoned polluted industrial sites in central cities, many of which are today being cleaned and redeveloped
Approaches to Waste Management (3)
Minimize, recover/recycle, safe disposal
Sanitary Landfill Construction
Site where the bottom is lined with plastic or clay to prevent wastewater from polluting groundwater. The location must be away from rivers and streams and well above groundwater table.
Sanitary Landfill Problems
Landfills can create awful odors, water pollution, fill-up, and methane gas (good and bad)
Incineration
Combustion of wasted mixed with fossil fuels at high temperatures. It generates about 35% of the energy generated by the same amount of coal (good), ash contains numerous toxic metals which are more difficult to dispose of (bad), burning releases toxins into the air (bad), burning “creates” new toxins due to high heat of combustion (bad), and burning releases particulate matter-soot-into the air (bad),
Packaging
A type of waste reduction by redesigning packaging to maintain safety and make less garbage, and be more easily recycled
Policies
A type of waste reduction either using “bottle-bills” which is trying to force recycling, or “outlaw” of certain products such as plastics and glass containers
Reuse
A type of waste reduction by the consumer that encourages people to use your same cup, get cloth grocery bags, fill your own water bottle, etc.
Plastics
There are about 9 kinds of plastic and when they get recycled they can’t be mixed. Not easily recycled so it discourages people
Recycling
Collection and reprocessing of waste materials into new consumer products. There are about 9000 curbside recycling programs now in effect in the US. Recycled aluminum saves 95% of the processing costs from the ore.
Solid Wastes Today
Incinerated Wastes: 16%, Landfill Wastes 54%, and 30% of the waste is Recycled/Composted