Solid waste management already has a ton of benefits. But incorporating sustainable techniques in solid waste management ensures that public health is protected and the environment conserved. Sustainable techniques in solid waste management can significantly reduce the strain on our natural resources through composting, recycling, waste reduction, and reuse. So now, let us go through some sustainable techniques in solid waste management.
Sorting and segregating waste makes it easier to identify materials that authorities can recycle. It is essential to keep waste out of landfills and in a circular waste to resource loop. Governments worldwide have committed to expanding the amount of recycled waste and holding businesses responsible for their waste. The correct sorting and segregation of waste save time and money. There are two fundamentals that the segregation-sorting of wastes depends on:
The type of waste
The treatment and disposal method is appropriate for that type.
Sorting wastes at the source itself helps societies identify items that can be reused and set aside items for recycling. It also helps them understand the amount of waste they generate. It helps them to better associate waste generation with the consumption of material goods. This association can help them reduce and improve their acts of consumerism, failing to end up mixed together at a landfill. The decomposition of mixed wastes releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It also pollutes nearby bodies of water and the surrounding soil.
Composting is how organic wastes get broken down into simpler forms by microorganisms. ‘Compost’ is the broken-down residue material. A natural fertilizer of sorts, farmers can add compost to the soil to help plants grow better. Food waste makes up 30% of all solid waste at a landfill. Composting keeps organic wastes (like food scraps) out of landfills. Keeping organic waste out of landfills is crucial since they release methane if thrown away unsegregated. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
The Basics of Composting:
There are three essential ingredients required for any composting:
Browns – Twigs, branches, dry leaves, etc.
Greens – Vegetable and fruit waste, coffee grounds, tea bags, grass and plant clippings, etc.
The browns provide carbon, greens provide nitrogen, and water offers a source of moisture—all these help in the breakdown of organic matter. Any composting pile must contain equal amounts of browns and greens.
What cannot be composted and why?
Meat and fish bones: attract rats and flies. They could also create odour problems.
Plants with a disease: the bacteria that are causing the disease might survive. It could be transferred back to other plants through the compost.
Coal, charcoal, and ash: contain substances that are harmful to plants.
Dog, cat, or other pet faecal waste: might contain parasites, bacteria, pathogens, and viruses that are harmful to a human’s health.
4R: Reduce, Reuse, Recover, and Recycle
The 4Rs provide a model for societies, communities, businesses, and ordinary people to practice sustainability. By practising sustainability in our generation of waste, we can make a substantial positive difference on our planet and its resources. Understanding the importance of the 4Rs and what they stand for can help us be more aware of our responsibility to preserve the environment and resources for future generations. They help us understand our role in keeping our oceans free from waste (mainly plastic). They also help us reduce our consumption of unnecessary items that significantly tax our resources.
The 4Rs are:
Authorities would not have to implement solid waste management systems if we could reduce waste at the source. It would result in saving vast amounts of costs. The money saved can be diverted and used for other essential functions. Reduction of waste at the sources can only happen when we reduce our consumption of resources. We must understand what items are crucial for our well-being and what items symbolize luxury and greed. For example, we do not need a private vehicle such as a car or bike for our bare existence. But we still buy cars because they establish a social position in society. Apart from that, it also forms a very convenient means of transport. However, our reluctance to use public transport because it involves a great deal of hassle stems from our search for comfort. But our comfort means the destruction of our planet.
Reusing goods and items keep them away from landfills. Of course, they will end up in a landfill one day. But, reusing an object will keep space in landfills free for at least more time than if it were to be thrown away after just one use. For example, single-use plastic bags have become common in marketplaces today. People use them to carry home groceries and discard them upon reaching home. But if we can reuse the same plastic bag the next time we go grocery shopping, we can reduce the amount of it as waste. Plastics choke sewers and gutter ways, taking hundreds of years to decompose.
An excellent example of recovery is the composting of organic wastes. Composting provides us with a resource to better our yield of crops. Composting enables us to recover valuable nutrients from organic wastes.
Recycling lets us use resources that people formerly discarded as waste. Recycling plays a vital role in keeping debris out of landfills. It contributes to a circular economy. However, waste should be recycled only as a last resort. Though recycling does keep waste and resources in a circular loop, the processes involved in recycling still release energy into the atmosphere. The release of energy contributes to a warming planet. People should send an object for recycling only after using it to its full extent and degree.
The complete form of PPP is the Public-Private Partnership Model. It includes the involvement of the private sector in waste management functions of municipal and local government bodies. Private and public bodies working together can achieve high operational efficiency. Local governmental bodies lack the finance to carry out efficient waste management functions. The lack of finance is where the private sector steps in. The provincial government can carry out primary functions such as waste collection. Private companies and individuals can manage the processing of waste. The processing of wastes can reduce the burden on landfills. It also creates job opportunities for the urban poor.
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