Solid waste management occupies an important position in the improvement of our society. It is regarded as a trillion dollar industry that every businessman wants to penetrate into. There are 3 main methods of solid waste management, namely land filling, incineration and recycling.
The first method of solid waste management is land filling. Landfills are used to treat waste by burying it under the soil. Land filling has traditionally been a primary method of waste disposal. Garbage is covered with a layer of soil to prevent it from blowing around. That method is very economical and convenient. However, we have to consider its bad side. We should detect methane gas production and groundwater contamination when burying solid waste under the soil. It costs $1 million per hectare to control these effects. To some extent, methane collected from that procedure will be used to generate electricity. In the United States, the number of landfills is declining, from 8000 in 1988 to 2000 landfills in 2012. Many landfills do not meet the requirements and guarantee the quality of Environmental Protection Agency. New landfills are opposed because of public concern about groundwater contamination, costs of transportation and spaces for landfills.
Methods of solid waste management
Another method of solid waste management is incineration which is defined as converting waste into steam, gas and heat. It is one of the most effective ways to manage solid waste. About 15% of US solid waste is incinerated. Incinerators dramatically reduce the amount of solid waste (up to 90% by volume and 75% by weight). However, incineration also causes a lot of concern for America. Primary risks of incineration include air quality problem, toxicity and ash. Even when using modern techniques to control pollution, small amounts of pollutants are still generated into the environment. In addition, cost of land and new incinerators construction are also major concerns that the United States of America are facing. According to Environmental Protection Agency, construction costs of incinerators range from $45 to $300 million, which is a big sum of money. Indeed, few developing countries can afford incineration.
The third method of solid waste management is recycling. In the United States, recycling accounts for 30% of the total solid waste management. It seems the best way to reduce pollution, conserve resources, save energy and create new jobs. Plastic bags, containers and glass are often recycled. The recycled materials will be then used to make new products which have the same purposes as the ones made from raw materials. Actually, recycling is environmentally friendly but not all kinds of solid waste can be recycled and the cost of recycling is so high.
To sum up, there are 3 primary methods of solid waste management, including land filling, incineration and recycling. Each method owns distinguish strengths and weaknesses. It is better to combine these methods to gain the best utility. More than that, people should pay much attention to waste management and spend more on waste industries.