Waste Management 101

Waste management is all about collecting, transporting, processing, recycling and disposing waste materials.  Proper waste disposal is always needed to make sure that their harmful effects to the human population or environment are reduced.  There are different kinds of waste management procedures when handling solid, liquid, gas and radioactive wastes.  Aside from that, different fields like agriculture, mining, and healthcare have strict regulations to follow for waste disposal.

There are studies conducted showing that about 90 percent of wastes disposed every year mainly come from industrialized countries, which is about 325-375 million tons of toxic and hazardous waste.  Countries are expressing their concern about the rising number of wastes being disposed every year.  According to the United Nations, there are 60 percent of countries worldwide expressing their waste concern in the 1992 Earth Summit.

Improper waste disposal can cause big problems to human health.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) states that there are about five million fatalities every year because of diseases related to improper waste disposal.  For example, stagnant water and pile of wastes in the backyard could actually be a source of dengue, tetanus or vermin related disease like leptospirosis.

Not all management practices are the same, industrial waste management would of course be different from household waste disposal.  Urban and rural waste management are also different.  Which why there are people who are primarily employed as waste specialists officers and whose job is to ensure that wastes are properly disposed.

Every county would also have their own waste disposal method.  There are government agencies and local government units that provide waste collection services, they would often have partnerships with private waste management companies.  For example, in Australia, every curb would have three collection bins like one for the recyclables, general and garden wastes.  Households are encouraged to start composting to reduce wastes.  This is the same waste collection done in Canada.  In Taipei, households and industries are charged for the volume of their wsastes produced.

In waste management there is something known as the waste hierarchy or the 3 Rs:  reduce, reuse and recycle.  This 3 Rs remains to be the basis of waste management programs, technologies and strategies being developed.  Government programs implemented are based on these principles, for example in the United States there are states that would implement regulations of non-collection of yard wastes to encourage households to recycle.

Another program implemented by the government would be the extended product responsibility or the EPR.  This is a strategy that would ensure that manufacturers would be responsible for their products after they were disposed by the consumers.  The method used in Taiwan is also known as the Polluter Pays Principle.  The polluter would pay for the impact of their waste on the environment.

Some industries find waste management and environmental responsibility good business opportunity for their own businesses.  They report increased efficiency, energy reduction costs and even getting local and national government incentives since the government offers tax rebates for industries that would use “green” technology.