01 Feb

Solid waste management in the field of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) involves the collection, transportation, and disposal of waste materials in a manner that is safe for both the environment and human health. This includes implementing policies and procedures to minimize waste generation, as well as properly managing and disposing of any waste produced.

"The process of collecting, transporting, treating, and disposing of solid wastes is referred to as "solid waste management."

Present Status:An estimated 33 percent of the world's 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste produced annually is not handled in an environmentally sound manner. The average amount of waste produced per person per day worldwide is 0.74 kilograms. However, it varies from 0.11 to 4.54 kgs.India generates 62 million tonnes of waste each year, of which about 43 million tonnes (70%) is collected, about 12 million tonnes are treated, and 31 million tonnes is dumped in landfill sites.Some key components of solid waste management in EHS include:   

Waste reduction: This involves implementing practices and policies that minimize the amount of waste produced in the first place. This can include recycling programs, composting, and reducing packaging and other unnecessary materials.   Collection and transportation: Once the waste is generated, it must be properly collected and transported to a designated disposal facility. This includes ensuring that waste is properly packaged and labeled and that all transportation is done in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.   

Disposal: The final step in solid waste management is proper disposal of waste materials. This can include landfilling, incineration, or recycling. It is important to ensure that all disposal methods comply with all applicable regulations and laws.Overall, solid waste management in EHS is important for protecting the environment and human health. By implementing effective policies and procedures, companies and organizations can minimize the negative impact of waste on the environment and help ensure that waste is disposed of safely and responsibly.

Need for effective waste management:The human race as a whole is the primary contributor to waste management. More waste is produced than we can handle. Therefore, our health and the ecosystem would start to suffer without proper waste management. All kinds of mixed waste collected cause segregation problems. Every day, people are moving from town to cities and cities are unable to manage the waste produced by the increased human population. Waste is projected to increase to 200 million metric tonnes per year by 2041 in India, which is almost twice of what is being produced now ( India - MSW generation amount 2001-2041 | Statista).Hence, there is a need for effective waste management so that people can segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste and minimize their materials consumption altogether. 

Things to think about:Sometimes things need to go to landfills, like hazardous substances. The waste must be properly handled, transported, and disposed of at all these stages. Hazardous and biomedical waste needs special care because it can contaminate the surrounding environment if not safely disposed of. The landfills should be timely covered and lined so that no leachate seeps into the ground, thus contaminating ground water. Landfill gas collection systems should be implemented in landfills to collect and flare the harmful gases coming out of landfills. But priority should be given to not producing waste in the first place. For this, people must reduce their consumption, reuse the materials if possible, and recycle them. Recovering other things like energy from waste should be the last resort because waste-to-energy plants are very costly and release harmful chemicals into the air. How are you reducing your consumption and waste production?

Author- Ashpreet Kaur, MS, BS Hardeep Hegde, Palak ChawlaEditor- Ashpreet Kaur, MS, BS

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