Waste management is all about collecting, transporting, processing, recycling and disposing of waste materials. Proper waste disposal is always needed to make sure that the harmful effects to the human population or the environment are reduced or eliminated. There are different kinds of waste management procedures when handling solid, liquid, gas and radioactive wastes. Different fields such as agriculture, mining, and healthcare also have separate strict regulations they must follow for waste disposal.
There are studies that have been conducted showing about 90 percent of waste products disposed of every year come mainly from industrialized countries. This amounts to about 325-375 million tons of toxic and hazardous waste. Many countries are expressing concern about the rising amount of waste disposed of every year. According to the United Nations, approximately 60 percent of the countries worldwide are expressing concern about this growing problem.
Improper waste disposal can cause big problems to human health. The United Nations Development Program (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 diseases 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 practices are also different. This is why there are people who are primarily employed as waste specialists and whose job it is to ensure that wastes are properly disposed.
Every country would also have its’ own waste disposal method. There are government agencies and local government units that provide waste collection services. These are often partnered with private waste management companies. For example, in Australia, every curb would have three collection bins including one each for the recyclables, general waste and garden waste. Households are encouraged to start composting to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. This is the same type of waste collection that is done in Canada. In Taipei, households and industries are charged for the volume of the wastes produced.
In waste management there is something known as the waste hierarchy or the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The 3 R’s remain 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 implement regulations of non-collection of certain yard wastes to encourage households to recycle and/or compost.
Another program implemented by the government would be the Extended Product Responsibility (EPR). This strategy would ensure manufacturers are responsible for their products even after disposal by consumers. The method used in Taiwan is known as the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP). 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 some are getting local and national government incentives since the government offers tax rebates for industries using “green” technology.
Waste is not something we should stop thinking about just because it’s something discarded. It’s the amount discarded we should be concerned with and realize if we don’t do something about it, we will pollute our planet just with the sheer amount of waste we discard. Remember to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle anytime and anything you can. Help clean up our planet and keep it that way.