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Municipal Solid Waste Management

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is what people leave after their everyday life activities, and includes items such as paper, plastic garbage, metals, electronics, and textiles. These leftovers are damaging for the environment, and its their volumes grow with the human population. The waste issue is especially urgent for places with a high density of citizens, therefore different strategies of waste management are applied by governments and environmental organizations. This paper aims to discuss the methods of usage and recycling of municipal solid waste.

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An average person’s daily life produces at least several municipal solid waste items: food packages, paper coffee cups, plastic bottles, or clothes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (2017) claims that “the total generation of MSW in 2017 was 267.8 million tons or 4.51 pounds per person per day.” Indeed, the volume of waste increases, and the primary source of it is humanity. People generate solid waste in households, offices, commercial facilities, manufacturing industries, institutions, and biomedical organizations. There are multiple ways of reducing the volume of MSW, such as reusing and recycling. Reusing can include donation donating the used and unnecessary items to non-profits, buying used things, and preferring the reusable upon disposable. Recycling can be applied by proper waste sorting, collecting, and buying products made from recycled materials. Not all waste can be recycled, therefore it is necessary to consider its type before applying a way of reducing the refuse volume.

Municipal solid waste can be generally divided into the garbage, rubbish, and trash. Garbage is mostly organic waste left from foods or paper leftovers, which are decomposable, while rubbish is the material such as glass or metal. For example, leftovers from food preparation are garbage waste, while the glass bottle from water is rubbish. Trash is all the other waste such as plastic packages, electronics, or biomedical items that take hundreds of years to decompose. One of the strategies for managing refuse is collecting it in specialized facilities depending on the type of waste.

Proper MSW collection is a significant part of waste management performed in different cities worldwide. Optimal routing for waste collecting is vital, and it includes scheduling and defining the proper logistics for trucks (Sulemana et al., 2018). There are several characteristics to apply on to the routing of MSW collection trucks to assess it them as optimally effective. First, it must consider how long it takes for households and facilities to generate the volume of waste suitable for a truck. Second, the cost of MSW collection, including labor and gas for vehicles, has to be evaluated to become as low as possible. Third, the environmental factor has to be viewed while composing the distances per truck, so waste collection does not increase greenhouse gas emissions. Fourth, the process of waste collection should be comfortable for citizens. Trucks’ routes should not cause traffic jams, and the time of collecting should be appropriate.

The destination to where trucks get the waste and collect it sometimes is not the ending point. Vehicles leave refuse at the transfer stations that exist to provide a more sustainable waste management system. Waste transfer stations are facilities facilities’ purpose of which is to store the refuse before the next stage of elimination. Municipal solid waste can then be moved to landfills and dumps located far from the cities, as well as to be sent for composting or incinerator.

Composting and incineration are the two ways of reducing the volume of garbage and rubbish. Waste composting makes it possible to drain organic decomposable elements from refuse to decrease its their size. The purpose of this process is to reduce the total volume of waste to store. Incineration is the other approach that helps in managing the refuses by destroying a part of it. A positive aspect of a waste incinerating procedure is its ease of applying and the fact that almost all rubbish will be effectively eradicated. However, incineration is not the best way to manage waste because it pollutes the air, and the emission of toxins cannot be adequately calculated to be prevented. The other negative aspect is that ashes left from incinerated refuse can harm people and the environment, thus leaving them on in landfills or dumps can have severe consequences.

Trash that cannot be eliminated by composting and incineration is collected and stored in landfills or dumps. Landfills are places where refuses refuse are buried for their further decomposition, and more than 70% of municipal solid waste is disposed of on them (Abdel-Shafy & Mansour, 2018). While the landfill’s waste is almost completely hidden underground, dumps are where the refuse is stored without any structure or utilization. The government regulates landfills, but dumps can be located anywhere and have no control. Moreover, opposite to dumps, places for landfills are usually carefully chosen and systematically managed. The environmental or economic damage made by landfills can be evaluated, yet dumps’ impact is unknown.

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If each person in a city of 20,000 people generates 5 pounds of municipal solid waste per day, it generates 36,500,000 pounds of MSW yearly. If another city’s landfill volume is required per year is 300,000 m3, and the average fill depth is 15 m, the required landfill area per year is 20,000 m2. Many cities’ populations are larger, and the areas for the yearly landfill are smaller. Government and environmental organizations need to implement even more effective strategies of municipal solid waste management, while citizens have to reduce its generation to prevent Earth from turning into a dump.

References

Abdel-Shafy, H. I., & Mansour, M. S. (2018). Solid waste issue: Sources, composition, disposal, recycling, and valorization. Egyptian Journal of Petroleum, 27(4), 1275-1290. Web.

Sulemana, A., Donkor, E. A., Forkuo, E. K., & Oduro-Kwarteng, S. (2018). Optimal routing of solid waste collection trucks: A review of methods. Journal of Engineering, 2018. Web.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2017). National overview: facts and figures on materials, wastes, and recycling. Web.

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