Solid Waste Management

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Many biological processes, domestic and commercial activities result in a lot of solid wastes. A range of wastes are generated at different levels; some of them are household trash, municipal solid wastes, effluents from industries, biological wastes such as dead tissues derived from hospitals,  parts of the dead animals etc. Wastes can also be derived from offices, stores, schools, and all the public places.  Each waste differ in their nature, the municipal solid wastes may contain plastic covers, paper, food wastes, glass, metals, rubber and rubber goods, leather and leather goods, jute, textile material, etc. Carbage has a mixture of many inorganic chemicals, plastics day to day products and many more. In most of the cases, the waste is subjected to incineration (burning) which can trigger air pollution. Open dumping of solid wastes is a major issue in urban premises as it is found that animals like donkeys, dogs, and cattle will scatter the waste. Such waste provides scope for the breeding of rats and flies resulting in zoonotic diseases.  Let us discuss some of the wastes, their sources and ways to manage them. 


Sources of solid wastes

Tones of solid waste generated round the clock with hardly a few wastes being recycled. Unfortunately, waste management is very poor in many countries despite the technological advancement. In many cases, people are unaware of the consequences of excessive wastes. Solid wastes are generated by multiple sources. Some of them are,  wastes generated from homes, farmlands, offices, industries, and factories are thrown in an open land. Some of the specific sources of solid waste are as follows.


Residential wastes 

A lot of household wastes are generated each day. Wastes can range from peel of vegetables and fruits, decayed vegetables, food wastes, plastics, paper, glass, electronic and electric items, leather goods, cardboards, metals, etc. Solid wastes generated from the residential activities enter the garbage and municipal wastes.


Industrial wastes

Industrial wastes are one of the largest sources of wastes in our country. As the country is heading towards industrialization, a variety of wastes can be generated. Some of them are waste tools, raw materials being thrown away, packaging wastes, ashes, construction and demolition materials, Medical wastes, drugs, clothes, etc.


 Institutional waste

It is the waste derived from colleges, schools, tutorials, training centres, military barracks. A range of wastes produced by institutions is trash,  laboratory wastes, papers, used pens, plastic wastes, glasses, rubber wastes, metals, cardboard materials, and electronics.


Commercial wastes

They come from commercial buildings and office settings, markets, commercial streets, super bazaars, big markets,  street markets, hotels, restaurants, and godowns. These centres generate a lot of paper wastes, plastics, waste foods, metals, glass pieces, cardboards, transporting tools, and other hazardous wastes


 Construction and Demolition Areas

This is probably the least managed waste. The waste generate includes scrapped steel material, broken bricks, and tiles, concrete, wires, pipes, wood, plastics, rubber, glass, etc.


Municipal services

Garage ( Greatest proportion of the municipal waste), public wastes generated in the bus stations, wastes from parks, sludge, demolition wastes, toilet wastes,  wastes from beaches, waste from water treatment plants, landscaping wastes, etc.



In the agriculture-dependent nations like India, the damage that agriculture costs is lethal. Agriculture is another important generator of wastes including dairy wastes, solid bottles, fertilizer and pesticide containers spoiled food, etc.


Biomedical waste

It is the combination of biological and medical supplies such as the waste from hospitals, medicals centres, unused and used medical equipment like syringes, bandages, human bones, body parts, used gloves, cotton swabs, soiled linen, drugs, paper, plastics, drugs, and chemicals, etc.


Effects of  Solid Wastes and their poor management

A lot of solid wastes being dumped on a slopy surface are washed away through rainwater, consequently, the wastes reach aquatic sources. Water reservoirs such as ponds, wells, rivers are lodged with unwanted solids resulting in water pollution. On the other hand, mosquitoes bred in the waste yards increases the risk of malaria and other animal-borne diseases. If the solid wastes are burnt, people can suffer from respiratory sickness due to bad smell, ash (after burning) and the dust produced out of solid waste. Industrial wastes can cause irreversible biological, genetic and physicochemical damage. Hazardous wastes like pesticides, insecticides, hospital wastes, electronic items, plastics, batteries containing lead, mercury, zinc and some radioactive materials which can seriously damage the health and well-being of human beings and animals. Some of the lethal effects of solid wastes in the long-term are cancer, serious skin infections, infectious diseases, blood disorders, genetic mutations etc.


Methods of solid waste management

The most fundamental strategy of waste management is to cut down the sources that generate a lot of solid wastes- Reducing. Reducing at source will help in the quantitative management of solid wastes. It is important to properly collect, segregate, transfer, store, process and finally treat the waste with an appropriate method. If the products are biodegradable, they can properly be reused or recycled. Techniques of waste management varies according to the type and amount of wastes. Treatment of solid wastes is broadly categorized into reuse, recycle or dispose of depending upon whether the waste is biodegradable or not. Reusing is a strategy in which the wastes like papers, jugs, plastic containers are separated and washed if necessary to use them all over again. Recycling is a method in which we don't use the waste directly unlike in the previous method. In a recycling method, one form of the waste is changed to another form, for example, plastic can be moulted by heating and give them a different shape to use them again. Disposal method is the last resort useful if the items are no more good for either reuse or recycle. 


Most commonly used methods of solid waste management

Sanitary Landfill

It is a method where the garbage is distributed in between the thin layers of soil then compresses and covered with the thick layers of sand, clay, topsoil, and gravel to prevent seepage of water. 


It is a method involving the burning of solid wastes at a high temperature to bring down the waste into an ash form.  Incinerators are used to incinerate the wastes. It is commonly used in hospital setups.


Composting is used against the biodegradable waste to generate manure. 


The solid wastes are decomposed by using chemicals in the presence of heat and oxygen. This is achieved at a greater level of pressure as well as at temperatures ( 430 degrees Celsius).






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