13 March 2011
What is Solid Waste Management?
"Society's systems to deal with waste, in a sustainable way at minimum cost"
By: Steve Symes
Solid Waste Management is the activity of collecting, processing, and disposing of
society’s solid waste in a safe and sustainable manner, to ensure the health of each citizen is not impaired by
rotting wastes, and physically obstructed thoroughfares.
In recent years in the developed nations street cleansing has become routine, and of course, also includes the
removal of anything unsighly as well.
|Street garbage soon fills our
throughfares if not collected..
Solid waste management efforts have in the past decade, mostly been directed at developing
environmentally sound systems of minimizing, re-using, and recycling waste. What waste that then remains, known as
“residual waste” or “black bag waste”, is then still further processed to produce valuable products, or if that is
not possible the organic content is reduced before what then remains is sent to the destination of last resort:
The way that society, in the industrialized nations, disposes of rubbish has changed greatly in recent years. For
example, solid waste is now not dumped into seas or unlined pits, and healthcare (medical) wastes are no longer
disposed of with household waste, due to the risks they hold for injury and infection.
For most industrialized states today, solid waste management is a growing multiple billion dollar business which is
vital to the survival of urban communities. Just imagine how difficult it is in the cities if even one week’s waste
is left on the streets, and how soon that waste would start to smell, harbour vermin, and just physically clog up
all of our transport links.
Rubbish collection agencies remove millions of tons of rubbish annually and sort it for recycling or final
disposal. In towns and cities and rural areas the government organises weekly or fortnightly collections. Only in
the most remote areas are the public required to bring their waste to the landfill, or a collection point.
As a result the solid waste management charge on local taxes (rates) has become a substantial sum for each resident
to pay for waste collection, and disposal.
Ancient solid waste management was such that its investigation has become the mainstay of archaeology. Early solid
waste management consisted of digging pits and discarding all types of rubbish into them.
This made these “middens” a treasure trove for archaeologists who have been able to piece together a huge body of
evidence of the sorts of lives that folk lived. Modern microscopic and carbon dating techniques have revealed how
folks ate, the materials they used to make implements, and a wealth of other insights into the everyday existence
of our ancestors.
In the past, when local authorities did not make collections, and before many towns started to gear themselves up
for regular community rubbish collection, ad-hoc recycling did take place very effectively. Rag and bone men would
buy these items from folk and recycle them. The wealthier people would make their own arrangements for contractors
to remove and dump their waste. However, in those days before plastics and when most people could burn their scraps
on open fires, the quantity of waste produced was much less than today, and most of it would compost itself
naturally when dumped even if dumped inappropriately.
Most solid waste management collection and disposal contracts are let by community government departments. The
companies bid for contracts set to run for a specified term, before they are thrown open for a re-bid. The bidder
prepared to charge the least while undertaking the disposal obligations specified generally wins the
|Handcarts have be a mainstay of
solid waste management since the invention of the wheel itself.
Therefore, the waste management system is a central element of the framework of a civilised
society. Good solid waste management uses technologies, systems and strategies that support government initiatives
and drive sustainable practices forward, maintaining and improving physical environments and bettering the health
Caring for the air, land, water, and natural ecological resources for the public's health is basic in attaining the
long term objectives of sustainability in solid waste management. As waste generation continues to grow more
rapidly than population, the movers and shakers in MSW services must work hard to face up to these significant
Solid Waste Management is the activity of collecting, processing, and disposing of society’s solid waste in a safe
and sustainable manner, Understand what that entails by reading this article.