Waste Management

Introduction

Waste – waste is anything that is no longer useful or required. Waste products have no further use in production or consumption by the user.     

Classification of waste

Wastes are of three types (Solid, Liquid, and Gas)

  • Solid
    • Plastic bottles
    • Scrap metals
    • Broken furniture
    • Toys
    • Glass bottle   
  • Liquid
    • Waster water
    • Fats
    • Oils
    • Detergent water
    • Chemical substances are produced in factories and industries.  
  • Gaseous (Obtained from the manufacturing process or another process)  
    • Carbon-di-oxide
    • Sulphur-di-oxide
    • Nitrogen-di-oxide
    • Carbon monoxide
Solid, Liquid Gas waste

Radioactive (or nuclear) waste is a byproduct of nuclear reactors, fuel processing plants, hospitals, and research facilities.

Radioactive Waste

Two types of waste depending on the toxicity

  • Toxic waste – It may be formed in solid, liquid, and gaseous. This kind of waste is harmful to humans, animals, and Plants.
    • Mercury
    • Battery
    • Unused Computer parts
    • Paints
    • Chemical
    • Syringes
    • Needles
    • Pesticides
  • Non-toxic waste – this kind of waste is not harmful to humans, animals, and Plants.
    • Paper
    • Glass
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Food leftover

Sources of waste

  • Domestic wastes (leftover of food items, excretory products)
  • Industrial waste (Chemical compounds)
  • Agriculture waste (Pesticides, manures, animal excretion husk)
  • Municipal Waste (Plastic Bags, used containers, broken items, packaging items.)
  • Organic waste (Plant and animals’ bodies, meat, fish, and peeling of fruits and vegetables)
  • Biomedical waste (bandage, syringe, needles)
  • Radioactive waste (ashes, other substances)

Soil

There are many different ways that soil can become polluted, such as:

  • Discharge of industrial waste into the soil
  • Underground storage tanks
  • Excess application of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer
  • Solid waste seepage

The most common chemicals involved in causing soil pollution are:

  • Petroleum hydrocarbons
  • Heavy metals
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents

Effects of waste on the environment

  • Surface water pollution
  • Water contamination
  • Soil contamination
  • Air pollution
  • Impact on Health

Water Contamination – Chemical waste from factories is thrown into water bodies and this chemical composition is affected water bodies which are responsible for negative impacts on the ecosystem.

Water Contamination

Soil Contamination – It is typically caused by industrial activity, agricultural chemicals, or improper disposal of waste. This kind of waste is mainly harmful to plants as well as consumers of these plants.

Soil Contamination

Leachate – The liquid that forms as water trickles through contaminated areas is called leachate. It forms a very harmful mixture of chemicals that may result in hazardous substance entering the soil and ground water.

Leachate

Methods of waste management:

Collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of waste.

Reduction: This is a process of waste minimization at the source itself, and elimination of harmful and persistent wastes. This involves redesigning products in order to reduce the production of waste at home, work, or other places.

Reuse: To reuse is to use an item again after it has been used before. Reuse helps to save time, money, energy, and resources. eg. Packing boxes, gift wrappers, toys, etc.

Recycling: Recycling is processing used materials into new, useful products. It helps to save raw materials, energy, and money and controls pollution and environmental degradation. e.g. Newspaper, iron items, etc.


Processes of waste disposal and management:

(a) Segregation of waste: Separation of wastes at the source of the collection is known as segregation of waste. This reduces the cost of transportation, and energy and helps in acquiring organic stock for energy generation, etc. Wastes may be categorized as

  • Bio-degradable-Kitchen wastes, garden trimmings, paper, etc.
  • Nonbiodegradable Plastics, glass, old medicines, bulbs, cans, etc.

(b) Landfilling: This is the most common and old method of waste disposal, where the waste is buried underground. But this method is not much in use in modern days, as this requires a huge vacant land for the purpose, produces strong methane and other gases, and causes contamination problems.

(c) Composting: Composting is an easy and natural bio-degradation process that takes organic wastes like kitchen wastes etc. and turns them into nutrient-rich food for plants. This is done by microbes, which can turn unsafe organic products into safe composts. But it is a slow process and needs lots of space.

(d) Drainage method: This is a method of waste management by removal of suspended solid particles in the disposed of liquid or water before it is discharged back into the environment. The ‘Primary treatment’ removes about 60% of suspended solids from the water. The ‘Secondary treatment’ removes 90% of the waste. The ‘Tertiary treatment’ is the final step taken before the water is discharged into the environment.

(e) Scrubbing: Wet scrubbing is a method of using a liquid to remove solid, liquid, or gaseous wastes and pollutants. The scrubbing liquid is sprayed into the disposed of gas in a spray chamber. Contact with the spray liquid removes the pollutants of the gas. This is done to control pollution by particulate matter. Recently, dry scrubbing is also popular.


Role of students in waste management:

Students’ activities in waste management:

Reduce waste creation

  • Use proper towels and ceramic plates instead of paper napkins and disposable plates and spoons.
  • Use proper shopping bags instead of getting plastic bags from shops.
  • Use old packing boxes and gift wraps.

Reuse things that end up as waste:

(i) Use of old clothes from elders.

(ii) Use of toys, gift wraps, furniture, etc.

(iii) Innovative use of discarded items. E.g., Pen stands out in an empty soda can.

Cleaning programs

Students may arrange some waste and litter collection programs to clean the neighborhood. For example,

  • awareness camps and demonstration programs can be arranged by the students in the locality to increase the general awareness of people regarding garbage disposal.
  • Schools can arrange groups of students for the regular survey, whether the people of the locality are actively following the cleaning and garbage disposal systems or not.

Effects of waste disposal on Bhagirathi Hooghly river-A Case Study

A sharp decline in the quality of water of the Bhagirathi-Hooghly River is due to the increasing level of pollution from urban and industrial areas. Although considered holy, people do not hesitate to dump domestic and industrial waste into the river.

3/4th of the pollution of the river is due to untreated municipal wastes and sewage. Apart from industrial and domestic wastes, about 40,000 dead bodies are burnt along the river-side and the ash is dumped into the river.

Pollutants also come from nearby paper industries, textile industries, tanneries, etc. All this makes the river water impure, which is unhygienic for drinking, domestic, agricultural, or industrial use.


Ganga Action Plan:

The Ganga Action Plan was started in 1986 to control of water pollution of the Ganga throughout its course. The main function of this plan is to make the river free from the disposal of waste from the cities along the banks of the river. The main objectives of the Ganga Action Plan are:


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