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Municipal Waste Disposal as Social and Ecological Issue


Nowadays, when the volumes of produced waste emphasize the need for the use of appropriate solid waste disposal techniques, it is considered that waste incineration serves as a good alternative to landfill methods as it decreases the volume of waste and takes smaller space (Hu, Li, Nguyen, & Kavan, 2015). Nevertheless, it has some serious disadvantages including air pollution and excess production of ash, which can adversely impact the health of city residents. Therefore, the selection of proper locations for waste incineration plants is of great importance as it can be argued that their situation in the city area is highly detrimental. The suggested study will aim to ban the location of the waste incineration industry within the urban zones. Since the topic covers both social and environmental issues, the core disciplines employed during the research will include sociology and environmental/natural science.

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“Sociology is a discipline that makes it possible to see how individual experiences…are connected to the wider society” (Eastern Kentucky University, 2018, para. 1). It studies specific social processes such as distributive relations, interactions between different people and population groups, etc. What is especially important for the proposed study is that within the given discipline it is possible to investigate the processes that take place not only in the society but also in other spheres of life, including ecological situations. There is a plethora of sociological research methods aimed to capture a process of interest. They may be exploratory, analytical, and descriptive. The main tools include surveys, interviews, experiences, participant observation, field research, and case study (Little & McGivern, n.d.).

Environmental Science

One of the main goals of ecology as a science is to study the basic laws and the development of the theory of rational interaction between individuals, society, and nature, considering human society as an integral part of the biosphere. At the present-day stage, environmental science primarily aims to provide evidence that would help bring the society out of the global ecological crisis and allow it step onto the path of sustainable development, in which the needs of the present generation will be met without depriving future generations of an opportunity to fulfil their own vital needs. The methodology employed within the discipline aims to meet rigorous scientific standards, as well as capture personal and social motivations influencing the environment (Ruth, 2015). Thus, it allows implementing both quantitative and qualitative research methods, i.e., ecological surveying and statistical analyses, and so on.

Study Design

To collect the data on the degree of awareness of air pollution related to waste incineration, and the overall public attitudes to the industry, it is possible to use surveys and questionnaires, which can be distributed within an urban area located proximately to a plant. Along with the questions about demographic characteristics of participants, the surveys may include the questions about residents’ willingness to abate pollution and their perceptions of the effectiveness of current active environmental standards. As for the environmental data, it can be studied mainly by using the secondary data such as epidemiologic studies and quantitative research findings collected from researches on local-level and population-level air pollution due to waste incineration, as well as its links to health outcomes.

According to Ruth (2015), personal experiences of nature and environment, environmental action and policy are closely interrelated. It means that the two selected disciplines can be well-integrated. The sociological data including attitudinal responses to waste incineration operations, as well as their effects on the public health, can largely define the possibility of banning the location of the industry within the city area. Additionally, the quantitative ecological and epidemiological data on the level of air pollution can significantly substantiate the findings of the study and provide evidence either for or against the proposed ban.


Eastern Kentucky University. (2018). Sociology as a discipline. Web.

Hu, H., Li, X., Nguyen, A. D., & Kavan, P. (2015). A critical evaluation of waste incineration plants in Wuhan (China) based on site selection, environmental influence, public health and public participation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(7), 7593–7614. Web.

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Little, W., & McGivern, R. (n.d.). Chapter 2. Sociological research. Web.

Ruth, M. (2015). Handbook of research methods and applications in environmental studies. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

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