We all observe how waste is generated in our homes and neighbourhood and how it is disposed of. The disposal of waste has been done in a haphazard manner since ages, be it in villages, towns or cities. But today waste generation and disposal has become a matter of concern owing to the enormous increase in population, the changes in our lifestyles and consumption patterns, huge expansion of industries, transport, communication and commercial infrastructures and unrestrained use of modern technology. In fact, waste management has emerged as a serious challenge having major implications not only for human health and social life but also for the environment.
It is in this context that this chapter deals with different dimensions of waste management. The focus in this chapter, is on solid waste disposal.
10.2 SolId WaSte
What do we mean by solid waste? Almost everything that we use degenerates and loses its utility over a period of time. Many things become unusable after we use them only once. We then throw them away. Everything that we discard after it loses its usability is known as solid waste or garbage. There are different sources from where solid waste or garbage is generated everyday from individual households (domestic waste), and from industries and commercial establishments.
However, all such wastes are not uniform in nature. Broadly speaking, solid wastes can be divided into two distinct categories biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste.
10.2.1 Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable Waste
Let us understand how biodegradable wastes are different from non-biodegradable wastes by conducting the following activity.
We define biodegradable materials as those substances made of organic matter, such as plant and animal matter, that can be easily broken down by nature. For example, vegetable peels and other kitchen waste, vegetables, fruits, tea leaves, paper, wood, etc.
Non-biodegradable materials are those materials, which cannot be broken down easily, and retain their form for a long period of time. For example, metals, tin, glass, plastics etc.
10.3 SolId WaSte Disposal
The garbage that we generate every day has not only increased in volume phenomenally, but has also changed its composition due to changes in our lifestyles and consumption patterns. For instance, there is now an increasing use of non-biodegradable
materials such as plastics, metals and glass, specifically in urban areas.
Technological advancement has further brought in an increasing use of electronic items and gadgets. These are useful for us, but when discarded (known as E-Waste) they can be harmful to the environment and human health, particularly for the workers associated with this occupation.
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