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Urban Solid Wastes Management in the USA

Introduction

Solid waste management has emerged as a global problem of a considerable magnitude. The pursuit towards decreasing the solid wastes quantities as well as recovering the scarce resources from the bundles of waste generated on daily basis throughout the world has in the last few years broadened the scope of management of these wastes. Few decades from to date, the number of solid wasters which was generated especially in many urban regions was in small amounts which could easily be managed without causing any reason for panic, but things have drastically changed and now a few cities have found themselves in a crisis because of having problems of managing the solid wastes which these cities generate on daily basis (Michael, 1999).

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This crisis was due to the increasing amounts of solid wastes production especially in the drastically industrializing towns, the reduction of landfill capacity, rising dumping costs and opposition to the construction of new solid waste disposal facilities (Michael, 1999). It is because of these problems that the use of waste hierarchy management methods to conserve the environment is gaining popularity in many regions of the United States.

Urban Solid Wastes Quantities

In the United States of America, for example, little could be done until the time when some significant data was obtained on the quantities which several urban towns were realizing on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. The federal leadership, through the environmental protection agency then heavily embarked on coming up with the necessary data which could facilitate the designing of necessary initiatives to combat the crisis (Michael, 1999).

A study that has much significance was done in 1968 called the national community survey for solid refuse practices which gave baseline data to the environmental protection agency on probable initiatives and policies to address the above-mentioned crisis. After the above-mentioned survey being done, there have been other several studies done and the inferences from them have been used to give a possible way forward (Lawrence, Pereira, et al, 1980).

Using the Waste Hierarchy to conserve the Environment

After the united states realizing the kind of crisis to which most urban areas were exposed as far as solid wastes management was concerned, there were several policies formulation and technological advancements designed to address the challenge. One of the basic principles which were adopted was the 3R principle. The 3R principle stands for solid wastes generation Reduction, Promotion of reuse of the waste and Recycling of the wastes (Lawrence, Pereira, et al, 1980).

This broad approach seeks to address the vital junctures in the production, utility and dumping of material and products in order to significantly reduce wastefulness and enhance the value of resources. This strategy seeks to promote source reduction in order to reduce the capacity, reduce the negative impacts of solid wastes and enhance the usefulness of products.

The main aim of using the waste hierarchy strategy is to utilize an arrangement of all these interventions to handle the urban solid wastes stream in a safe and effective way that has no or minimal negative impact on human health and conservation of the ecosystem. There is also an aspect of encouraging the human population to come up with community-specific innovations which can potentially reduce the wastes, enhance the recycling practices, and promote other better wastes management practices. Because each and every urban region have specific waste profiles that are the type of wastes generated and the amounts, economic and social structure, infrastructure and policies differ always vary. Hence the people charged with decision-making at the local level are the ones who are in the right position of assessing their community requirements and be able to come up with the appropriate solid waste management interventions (Walsh, Philip, et al, 1995).

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Solid Wastes Generation Reduction

Source reduction is also referred to us as waste prevention. It is a front-end move toward addressing the urban solid wastes problems. It merely means the producers, manufactures and users of products have to change the way products are manufactured and used. It is an excellent attempt towards moving away from the traditional end pipe waste management interventions which were used in the past. Source reduction is the start of the pipe intervention and can be described as the design, production and utility of products in ways that cut down the quantity and impact of toxicity originating from solid waste produced when the goods come to the end of their usefulness. Some of the practices of waste reduction practices include (using for the second time of the shopping bags), product material capacity reduction (such as doing away with irrelevant products packaging), cutting down of the toxicity of the products (for example by using substitutes for heavy metals and other toxic materials), raising the product lifecycle (e.g. by coming up with products which have longer usefulness), and lowering the consumption (e.g. by altering the buyer’s practices of bulk purchases).

Promotion of Reuse of the Solid Wastes

The general meaning of reuse is the act of using the same commodity or item for more than one time. It does not only mean the use of the commodity or items in their original state or design. This concept enables the used commodities or items not to be thrown away after only one time of use. The reusing of items enables these items to give maximum value instead of going straight to fill the limited landfill. The concept of reuse is quite an old strategy. Glass containers were always reused for the keeping of almost all kinds of liquid substances. Toys, books, clothes, appliances and furniture can always be reused or donated to charity or sold as used-up commodities. Many organic wastes such as food refuse, animal and plant wastes can always be reused either as compost fertilizer and for many other applicable uses.

Recycling of Solid Wastes

Recycling usually refers to the active collection and separation of wastes and their succeeding conversion or remanufacture into utilizable or profitable resources. Recycling, as a strategy, makes it possible for a big chunk of the produced volume of solid wastes not to reach the landfills in order to make the landfills to be long-serving. Other associated environmental advantages offered by this technique include; lowering of greenhouse house gases emissions, conservation of energy and biodiversity preservation which would however be exploited for raw materials. The recycling intervention also has led to increased job opportunities, boosted the economy of the country, and enhanced the United States’ economic competitiveness in the world’s marketplace.

Recycling activities are so many and some of the widely known activities include, composting of organic solid wastes. Composting is one of the well-rooted practices which are widely used to recycle most organic wastes in order to come up with decomposed matter in form of stable humus that can be used to enhance soil quality (the U.S.A. Environmental Protection Agency, 1994).

Like any other element of the incorporated hierarchy of solid waste management, recycling initiatives must be designed carefully and rolled off to tackle the requirements of the people, together with an awareness of their cost-effectiveness. Collection recycling and separation programs usually differ in the degree of execution. Some might be simple delivery programs, while others might include wide-ranging curbside compilation and source separation at an established recovery facility. Flourishing recycling, though, needs more than the mere collection and separation of consumed materials. Recycling programs must be able to recognize and come up with markets for the recovered products; only as soon as the resources are reused is the recycling loop completely.

Methods

In order to find out the real success of the resource recovery methods of urban solid waste management which are discussed above, we employ the methodology of using secondary data from recent records and research report findings on the subject at hand. The success findings are compared to a baseline survey which was done in 1988 called the national community survey for municipal solid refuse management and practices (Department of Environment, 1988).

Results

Data Showing the Success of Solid Wastes Generation Reduction

In the year nineteen ninety-six, the Environmental protection agency declared that there are twenty-three million tons of municipal solid wastes which had been source-reduced, which was almost eleven percent of the two hundred and nine million tons of municipal solid wastes produced in that particular year. Hence, all the parties which play an active role in producing solid wastes also have the responsibility of implementing source reduction initiatives so as to keep the generation and disposal of solid wastes to a sustainable state (the U.S.A. Environmental Protection Agency, 1999).

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Data Showing the Success of Reuse of the Solid Wastes

There has been significant data generation from many surveys showing the potential positive impact which can be caused by the reuse of solid wastes. A surprise came from the year nineteen ninety-one, a waste-characterization study which found out that, reuse especially of organic solid wastes has increased greatly and that the amount of this wastes reaching the landfills has reduced by half in several states of the country. This is because the other half of the organic wastes is either, used as animal feeds, reused as raw material or used as compost manure in the farms (Department of Environment, 2000).

Data Showing the Success of Recycling of Solid Wastes

The composting of organic wastes, in particular, has been used tremendously in the last t ten years. In the year nineteen eighty the amount of organic solid wastes recycled was almost negligible that is (less than five thousand tons). By the year nineteen ninety-nine the capacity of the organic solid wastes which was recovered had gone up to twelve point six million tons. This had cut of greatly the number of organic wastes that reached the landfills by almost two-thirds (the U.S.A. Environmental Protection Agency, 1999).

Conclusion

Resource conservation is the ultimate objective of the above-discussed Waste Hierarchy management strategies. Resource reduction is the start of the pipe intervention and has twofold objectives. They include; the reduction of wastes through resource recovery which is usually aimed at preservation of the natural resources and reducing the number of wastes that are to be disposed of. These two aims have to be achieved in order to cut down the detrimental effects to human health and the environment, which might be caused by uncontrollable solid wastes generation and disposal practices.

References

  1. Department of Environment, (1988), Resource recovery an Industrial success, USA: Department of the environment report.
  2. Lawrence, K. Pereira, C. et al. (1980). Resource recovery: processing of solid wastes. USA: Humana Press.
  3. Michael, K. (1999). Municipal solid wastes: Facts and Figures. U.S.A: EPA of U.S.A.
  4. U.S.A. Environmental Protection Agency. (1994). Municipal solid wastes recycling: use of composting yards. Washington: EPA.
  5. U.S.A. Environmental Protection Agency. (1999). Resource recovery methods and their success: data for solid waste generated in the urban areas of the United States. Washington: EPA of U.S.A.
  6. Walsh, P., Philip, R. et al. (1995). Solid Waste Management: policymakers guide. Washington: Environmental Protection Agency of U.S.A.
  7. William, A. Aarne Vesilind, P. et al. (2001). Solid waste engineering, USA: CL Engineering.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Urban Solid Wastes Management in the USA'. 20 November.

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