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Chapter 17 Solid and Hazardous Waste Richard Davison, Thomas Nattestad , Lucas Cohen. 17-1: Wasting Resources. Solid Waste. Solid Waste: Unwanted or discarded material Nature doesn’t have solid waste. Directly produced solid waste is called garbage
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Chapter 17Solid and Hazardous WasteRichard Davison, Thomas Nattestad, Lucas Cohen
Solid Waste • Solid Waste: Unwanted or discarded material • Nature doesn’t have solid waste • Directly produced solid waste is called garbage • 98% is produced by mines, factories, and business
Solid Waste in the USA • We produce 1/3 of world’s solid waste • 98.5% comes from Oil production, agriculture, sewage, and industrial activity
MSW • Municipal solid waste (MSW): garbage or trash generated by homes and workplaces • Enough to fill garbage trucks around world 18 times • 55% Landfills, 30% recycled, 15% burned
Producing Less Waste • Two ways to deal with Waste • Waste Management • High-waste approach • Views waste as unavoidable • Waste Reduction • Low-waste approach • Mimics nature
Reducing Solid Waste • Some estimates claim 60-80% of solid waste could be eliminated
Reducing Solid Waste (cont.) • Sustainability Six: • Consume less • Redesign products to use less • Redesign manufacturing processes to produce less pollution • Sustainable products • Longer lasting products • Reduce Packaging
Dealing with Waste • Change industry to deal with/use waste better • Make waste of one industry the resource for another • Can develop Resource Exchange Webs to move around materials • In Europe, 1/3 of resources are taken to exchange sites
More Waste Management • There will always be a byproduct but it doesn’t have to waste • This is how nature deals: byproducts • Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company: • Implemented Waste Exchange • Reduced waste by 33% and air pollution by 70% • Saved 750 million dollars in waste disposal
Selling Services • Changes from material-flow to service-flow • People would lease the service a good provides • Xerox: • Lease out printers • Take back used up printers and reuse materials
Reuse • Advantages • Reduces use of matter and energy resources • Cuts pollution and waste • Creates local jobs • Saves Money
Disadvantages • Can pose a health hazard • Mostly in less wealthy countries • People scavenge dumps looking to reuse scraps and are exposed to: • Toxic metals • Infectious diseases
Using Refillable Containers • Reusable beverage containers • Costs less • Saves materials • Countries including Denmark, Canada, Finland, and Germany have all made a lot of progress limiting non-reusable bottles
Other Ways to Reuse Things • Cloth grocery bags • Metal or plastic lunchboxes • Plastic Containers for storing leftovers
Recycling • Five major products that can be recycled: • Paper products • Glass • Aluminum • Steel • Some Plastics
Recycling • Materials can be recycled in two ways: • Primary (closed-loop) • Secondary recycling (down cycling)
Recycling • Two types of Waste: • Pre-consumer (internal waste) • Post-consumer (external waste)
Recycling-Composting • Composting is very important • Simple process • Replicates natures recycling process • Biodegradable material • Organic material
Recycling • U.S. recycles about 30% of waste • Four factors hinder further reuse + recycle • Faulty accounting system • Uneven economic playing field • Low charges for dumping • Recycled materials price fluctuation
Waste to Energy • More than 1000 incinerators worldwide • Advantages: • Low water pollution • Quick and easy • Disadvantages: • High Cost • Highly toxic ash
Open Dumps vs Sanitary Landfills • Fields or holes where garbage is deposited • Only occasionally covered • Fairly harmful and toxic • Used mostly in developing countries • Solid waste in spread out in thin layers • Covered daily with fresh soil or plastic foam • Help to greatly reduce impact • Very technologically innovative
What is Hazardous Waste? • Hazardous Waste is any discarded solid or liquid that is toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive enough to explode or release toxic fumes.
Science and Politics • Developed Countries produce 80-90% • In US, 5% of hazardous waste is regulated • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) • Cradle to Grave • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (1980) • Identify Hazardous waste sites and clean up according to priority – 1250 sites
Brownfields • Brownfields – Abandoned industrial and commercial sites – often contaminated with hazardous waste
Terrorist Attacks • 15,000 sites that contain large amounts of hazardous waste in US • 790 sites where a catastrophic disaster could result in 100,000 to 1 million deaths • No federal laws establishing minimum security at chemical facilities
Case Study: Bhopal, India • December 2, 1984 • Union Carbide Pesticide Plant • Worst industrial accident in history • Underground storage tank explosion • Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas released • Highly toxic • 600,000 people exposed, 20,000 died as a result by 2001 • Could have been avoided with less than $1 mil. in upgrades
Detoxifying Hazardous Waste • Bioremediation • Bacteria and enzymes destroy or convert toxic waste • Phytoremediation • Natural or genetically altered plants treat toxic waste • pollution sponges
Burning and Burying • Hazardous Waste can be burned or buried • Risk is pollution of air and/or water • Air – dioxins and toxic ash • Water – toxins leech into ground water
More Burning and Burying • Solutions • GOOD IDEA - Deep Well disposal: deposit below geologic formations – prevent leeching • BAD IDEA – Surface Impoundments: excavated depressions (ponds, pits where hazardous waste is stored) • 90% threaten groundwater • Secure Hazardous Waste Landfills • Above-Ground Buildings
Case Study: Lead • Lead does not break down in the environment • Potent Neurotoxin • 12,000-16,000 children treated for acute lead poisoning each year • Unleaded Gasoline • Between 1976 and 2000, children with lead levels above safe dropped from 85% to 2.2% • 400,000 children still have unsafe levels • Some say there is NO safe level.
Case Study: Mercury • 1/3 of mercury in atmosphere comes from natural sources • 2/3 comes from human activities (mostly coal-burning) • Humans can be exposed in two ways • 1. Vaporized elemental mercury in the air or HG2+ Salts • 2. Methyl Mercury from eating fish • Methyl Mercury easily biomagnifies and fish high on the food chain can have high levels in tissues • Only way to lower human exposure is to stop coal-burning and waste incineration
Politics: Grassroots Action • In the US, citizens have prevented hundreds of incinerators, landfills, and treatment plants from being built in their communities • People who live near waste facilities have a much higher health risk • “Not in My Backyard” approach – however, waste has to go somewhere • Many argue best solution is to stop dangerous waste from being produced in the first place - prevention
International Action to Reduce Hazardous Waste • International treaty to prevent transfer of hazardous waste internationally • Controls 12 persistent organic pollutants (POPs) • POPs concentrate in human body • DDT, 8 other chlorine containing persistent pesticides, PCBs, dioxins, and furans • Treaty seeks to also ban/phase out use of these chemicals • Swedish Law – by 2020, bans all persistent bio-accumulating chemicals • Requires industry to prove safeness • Chemicals are considered guilty until proven innocent – opposite of current US policy
Solutions: Making the Transition to a Low-Waste Scoiety • Four key principles to prevent pollution and reduce waste : • 1. Everything is interconnected. • 2. There is no “away” for the wastes we produce • 3. Dilution is not always the Solution to Pollution • 4. The best and cheapest way to deal with waste and pollution is to produce fewer pollutants and reuse and recycle materials.