Essay on Solid and Hazardous Waste Management

Situation A: Plans for a proposed landfill expansion in your city include a recycling facility and a green waste processing facility. The operators of the facility propose to use processed green waste as a daily cover material for the landfill. They claim that using shredded green waste for landfill cover would reduce the amount of dirt required to be hauled in for cover.

Question 1: In your opinion, would the use of green waste in landfills be helpful? Or, would it create problems for the community? Explain.

The recycling and processing of wastes is really important, especially nowadays, when the environment pollution is growing creating a serious threat to human health (Suid 1993). It should be pointed out that landfill expansion traditionally provokes a strong opposition from the part of the community since it increases the risk of being affected by the wastes. On the other hand, often there is practically no other choice but to expand landfills because many communities grow, industry progresses and the quantity of wastes is constantly increasing. In such a situation, there are few alternatives to landfills expansion. This is why the primary task of the operators of such facilities is to make them really safe to the health of people living nearby.

First of all, it is necessary to underline that safety implies an effective protection of people from the negative influence wastes can produce directly on their health. At the same time, it is also necessary to remember about the negative influence of wastes on the environment since, on affecting environment, wastes indirectly affect human health. And even though, there is no direct or indirect impact on human health but only a negative on the environment this is already a sufficient pretext to improve waste recycling and processing technologies and landfill facilities.

In this respect, it should be said that the decision of the facility operator to use green waste as daily cover material in landfills may not very helpful. In stark contrast, it may be extremely dangerous to the environment and health of people living in the area. To put it more precisely, such use of green waste implies that they are supposed to be changed daily. In fact, it seems to be a procedure that may take a long time, at any rate, it will take longer time to cover waste compared to the use of other material for cover that does not need to be so scrupulous, for instance some solid material to cover the waste. Consequently, as it takes more time, the waste will remain uncovered for this period of time exposing environment and people to the threat of being intoxicated or affected by the waste.

Furthermore, green waste cannot be viewed as a sufficient coverage. In other words, green waste cannot provide the sufficient level of security of the waste it is supposed to cover. For instance, the waste may be affected by the natural phenomena, such as rain, that may enhance the negative impact of the waste on the environment and human health.

Thus, it seems to be obvious that the operators of the facility should not use green waste to cover the landfill.

Situation B: In your city, many residents have been cited by the health department for illegal disposal of household hazardous waste. The City Council has proposed to sponsor a household hazardous waste (hhw) roundup.

Question 2: Do you feel that the household hazardous waste problem can be effectively controlled by municipal government? Would stronger enforcement of RCRA help stop improper disposal of household hazardous waste in the city’s sanitary landfill? Why or why not? Justify your position.

Often, municipal government is considered to be responsible for the environmental situation in the area and, especially for the household hazardous waste problem. Naturally, due to such a view on the power of municipal government it is often believed that it can solve the problem of the household hazardous waste problem effectively. However, it is not always so and, in actuality, it is necessary to remember that municipal government is not community itself, it only governs but it cannot fully control all actions of local people.

In fact, speaking about the possible effectiveness of municipal government in the solution of the problem of the household hazardous waste, it is necessary to underline that it can really undertake steps to enforce RCRA and establish a larger control over the household hazardous waste. Nevertheless, the efforts of municipal government, whatever effective they are, cannot resole this problem totally. What is mean here is the fact that, in order to solve this problem effectively, it is necessary to primarily eliminate the cause of the problem. In the case of the household hazardous waste, the ‘cause’ is the local population or, to put it more precisely, those people or households that are not responsible enough to assist to the effective recycling and processing of wastes. This is why even the enforcement of RCRA does not seem to be sufficient to change their behavior and lifestyle.

In such a situation, it is necessary to underline that enforcement may work only to a certain level to the extent that people simply want to avoid some material punishment for the household hazardous waste, for instance (Suid 1993). However, it will not fully solve the problem. In this respect, it is possible to recommend the use of educational programs, involving children and informing them about the negative consequences of the household hazardous waste as well as it is necessary to conduct a public campaign against such waste simply informing people about its dangerous effects. In other words, it is necessary to make people more conscious of the consequences of their actions and effects of the household hazardous waste that will solve this problem more effectively than any restrictive measures.

References:

  • Suid, A. Learn to Recycle! Activities and Patterns for an Ecology Unit. CA: Monday
    Morning Books, 1993.
  • Closing the Loop: Exploring Integrated Waste Management and Resource Conservation. California Integrated Waste Management Board. California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento, CA, 2001.
  • Horosko, M. What a Waste! A Teacher’s Resource for Integrating the Solid Waste Crisis into the Classroom. Norwalk, CT: Southwest Connecticut Regional Recycling Operating Committee, 1992.
  • Super Saver Investigators. Institute for Environmental Education, OH: Chagrin Falls, 1991.
  • Garbage and Other Pollution. Wylie, TX: Information Plus, 1993.
  • The Garbage Primer. New York, NY: Lyons & Burford, 1993.
  • The Recycler’s Handbook. Berkeley, CA: Earth Works Press, 1990.
  • The Solid Waste Mess: What Should We Do With the Garbage? Washington, D.C. North American Association for Environmental Education, 1994.

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