How are waste treatment and disposal done?

Waste management generally means the collection, transport, processing or disposal, managing, and monitoring of waste materials to minimize its’ consequences on humans and the environment.

Waste disposal trucks
Waste disposal trucks

There are several methods of managing all the various types of waste. Some of these methods cause additional harm to the environment, but not doing anything is not an option.

Let us see below two common ways of managing waste:

  • Incineration method of waste management:

Incineration means burning waste. This method is common in countries with limited landfill space. Incineration chambers can be small for domestic use, but there are large ones for municipal use as well. It is great for treating waste with contamination (like those from hospitals) and hazardous waste from factories, but the method produces too much carbon dioxide (see our air pollution lesson). Modern incineration processes are more efficient and release less dioxin than home fireplaces and backyard barbecues. This method is common in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. This method is effective but expensive.

  • Sanitary Landfills as waste disposal:

Generally, this term means a large piece of land away from living places where all the waste from a town is deposited. But there is more to landfills. Proper landfill management involves sorting out all the waste (waste separation) and sending only the waste that cannot be recycled and composted to the site.

Proper landfills are also lined at the bottom to minimize the leakage of soil pollutants and other toxins from getting into the water table. This method is effective but expensive and difficult.
In many towns, sorting is not done. All the waste (paper, food, diapers, glass) is mixed up and deposited. That is a problem because glass and plastics take thousands of years to decompose. Additionally, the landfills soon become full, smelly, and unsafe for the environment.
Proper waste management is not cheap, but it is something we all have to get involved and discuss. The effect of not getting involved can be catastrophic to our health and environment.