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Chapter 21: Solid, Toxic and Hazardous Waste. Brita Christensen and Carlye Richter. Case Study: South Africa’s “National Flower”. -Some South Africans began referring to plastic bags as the country’s national flower -Each year shops hand out 8 billion light-weight, single-use bags

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chapter 21 solid toxic and hazardous waste

Chapter 21:Solid, Toxic and Hazardous Waste

Brita Christensen and Carlye Richter

case study south africa s national flower
Case Study: South Africa’s “National Flower”

-Some South Africans began referring to plastic bags as the country’s national flower

-Each year shops hand out 8 billion light-weight, single-use bags

-If they were thicker (80 microns) they would be reusable and litter would be reduced

-Trade unions fear that current machines wouldn’t be able to make such bags, causing unemployment

-If the bags were thicker, stores would charge more for them, making customers more likely to reuse

solid waste
Solid Waste
  • The U.S. produces 11 billion tons per year
  • ½ is agricultural waste
  • 1/3 of all solid wastes are produced from mining and primary metal processing
  • Road and building construction debris
  • Improper disposal methods spread waste
  • Industrial waste is 400 million metric tons a year
  • 60 million of these are hazardous or toxic waste
  • Municipal waste is 200 million + metric tons a year
  • 2/3 of a ton per person
  • How many tons of solid waste does the U.S. produce every year!?
the waste stream
The Waste Stream
  • Definition: the steady flow of varied wastes that we all produce, from domestic garbage and yard wastes to industrial, commercial and construction refuse.
  • Most of this waste could be valuable if it wasn’t mixed
  • Hazardous materials spread through garbage making disposal processes more difficult, expensive and risky
  • Examples of potentially hazardous trash: spray paint cans, pesticides, batteries, cleaning solvents, dioxin releasing plastics
  • What is one example of potentially hazardous trash!?
waste disposal methods
Waste Disposal Methods

Toxic chemicals are showing up in groundwater supplies that ½ of America depends on for drinking

-Theoretically, one liter of gasoline could make a million liters of water undrinkable

Open Dumps Release Hazardous Materials Into Air and Water

--The Three “R’s”

Open, unregulated dumps are predominant in most developing countries

Mexico City produces 10,000 tons of trash a day

Manila, Philippines –half of their waste collects in “Smoky Mountain” -20,000 people live and work there

Open dumping has been banned in most places, but illegal dumping is still a problem

200 million L of motor oil are illegally dumped a year –5 times the amount spilled from Exxon Valdez, 1989

ocean dumping is nearly uncontrollable
Ocean Dumping is Nearly Uncontrollable

-25,000 metric tons (55 million lbs.) of packaging a year are dumped at sea.

-Federal legislation prohibits dumping of municipal refuse, industrial waste, sewage and sewage sludge in the ocean

-60-80 million m3 of dredge spoil are disposed of at sea.

landfills receive most of our waste
Landfills Receive Most of Our Waste

-Sanitary landfills are an alternative to open dumps

-This method regulates and controls solid waste disposal

-landfill operators are required to compact the refuse and cover it with a layer of dirt, this controls pollution but also takes up 20% of landfill space

-An impermeable clay and/or plastic lining underlies and encloses the storage area in landfills

-Drainage systems surrounding the liner catch drainage and monitor chemicals that may be leaking

-location is essential to landfills, demonstrating concern for long-term effects associated with this form of disposal


What is an alternative to open dumps!?

more on landfills
More on Landfills …

-The U.S. spends $10 billion a year to dispose of trash

-1,200 of the 1,500 existing landfills in the U.S. have closed since stricter financial and environmental protection requirements for landfills took effect in 1984

-Cities have begun exporting trash which is expensive

-Methane –an important GHG is important to recover.

-It seeps to the surface of a landfill and escapes, but now it is collected and burned.

-Landfills could provide enough electricity for a city of a million people


How much money does the U.S spend per year on disposing of trash!?

exporting waste exposes villagers to hazards
Exporting Waste Exposes Villagers to Hazards

Most industrialized nations have agreed to stop shipping hazardous and toxic waste to less-developed countries

The Taiwan village disaster

Poor neighborhoods and minority populations are much more likely than richer ones to be the recipients of dumps, waste incinerators, and other locally unwanted land uses (LULUs)

One method of disposing of toxic wastes is to recycle them

Manufacturers are now required to report the “active” ingredient content of their product, but much can go unreported as “inert” matter

incineration produces energy but causes pollution
Incineration Produces Energy but Causes Pollution

Burning serves as an alternative to landfills


Refuse-derived fuel

Mass burn

Incinerators are costly, but can also extend the lifetime of existing landfills

EPA found high levels of toxic substances in incinerator ash –more in the fly ash than others

EPA says the danger is small, and causes 1 death per million people every 70 years, though critics claim it to be 250 per million

To reduce dangers, remove batteries containing heavy metals and plastics containing chlorine before incineration (eliminates majority of dioxins and other by-products)


What is one advantage of incinerators?

shrinking the waste stream

Shrinking the Waste Stream

Recycling means reusing, but also reprocessing

One problem for recyclers is the fluctuation in market prices for commodities

Another problem is contamination (ex: soda bottles)

Plastic recycling is down 50% due to “on the go” packaging

Recycling is the best alternative because it saves money, energy, raw materials, and land space

Encourages individual awareness and responsibility

Recycling has quadrupled since 1980, right now Japan is the world’s leader, recycling ½ of it’s municipal waste

When waste is well sorted, recycling is most successful

Recycling reduces our need for raw resources

Although public policy favors the use of raw material now, government statutes are working to change that

commercial scale recycling and composting
Commercial-scale Recycling and Composting

Composting is the most common form of large-scale recycling

Cities and towns have begun providing compost facilities to save landfill space

Organic debris is 12% of our waste stream, and ½ of organic waste is composted

An increasing number of the thousands of tons of debris sent to landfills is being collected, sorted and resold

Thermal conversion Process (TCP)

de manufacturing

Definition: the disassembly and recycling of obsolete products like TV sets, computers, refrigerators and air conditioners. Electronics and appliances are one of the fastest-growing components of the global waste stream

E-waste –computers, cell phones, TVs and printers

A single computer can contain 70 different chemical compounds

40% of lead and 70% of heavy metals come from e-waste

Some nations have taken the initiative in reducing these environmental hazards


What is an example of E-waste?

reusing vs recycling
Reusing vs. Recycling
  • Reusing is better than recycling
  • The reusable, refillable bottle is the most efficient beverage container we have
  • Big companies prefer recyclable containers over reusable containers because they are more cost efficient
  • In some cases, reusing is not energy efficient
  • Where manufactured products are expensive and labor is cheap, it pays to reuse

Which is better: reusing or recycling?

reducing waste is often the cheapest option

Reducing Waste is Often the Cheapest Option

Excess packaging of food and consumer products is one of our greatest sources of unnecessary waste

Paper, plastic, glass and metal packaging material make up 50% of our domestic trash by volume

Most packaging is primarily for marketing purposes

Canada’s National Packaging Protocol (NPP)

1) no packaging  2) minimal packaging  3) reusable packaging  4) recyclable packaging

-Photodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastics

Both are compostable or degradable

Sometimes materials don’t decompose completely

The most effective way to save energy, materials, and money is to slow the consumption of throwaway products

Hazardous Waste Must be Recycled, Contained or Detoxified

Hazardous waste –any discarded material, liquid or solid, that contains substances known to be (1) fatal to humans or laboratory animals in low doses (2) toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenicto humans or other life-forms (3) ignitable with a flash point less than 60 degrees Celsius (4) corrosive or (5) explosive or highly reactiveMost hazardous waste is recycled, converted to nonhazardous forms, stored or otherwise disposed of onsite by the generators5 billion metric tons of highly poisonous chemicals were improperly disposed of in the U.S. between 1950 and 1975

hazardous and toxic wastes
Hazardous and Toxic Wastes

The most dangerous aspect of the waste stream is that it often contains highly toxic and hazardous materials that are injurious to both human health and environmental quality

The EPA states that industries in the U.S. generate about 265 million metric tons of officially classified hazardous wastes each year, slightly more than 1 ton for each person in the country

40 million metric tons (22billion lbs.) of toxic and hazardous wastes are released into the air, water, and land in the U.S. a year


Why is the waste stream so dangerous?

federal legislation
Federal Legislation

The Resource Conservation and Recovery ACT of 2976

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund ACT) of 1980 (modified in 1984 by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA))

The Toxic Release Inventory requires more 20,000 manufacturing facilities to report annually on releases of more than 300 toxic materials

superfund sites are those listed for federal cleanup
Superfund Sites are Those Listed for Federal Cleanup

The EPA estimates that there are at least 36,000 seriously contaminated sites in the U.S.

The GAO says it’s higher (400,000 +)

By 1997 1,400 sites were on the NPL (National Priority List) for cleanup financed by the federal Superfund program

Superfund –a revolving pool designed to (1) provide an immediate response to emergency situations that pose imminent hazards and (2) to clean up or remediate abandoned or inactive sites

case study 2 hardeman county tennessee
Case Study #2: Hardeman County, Tennessee

The chemical build up began when William T. Love left his project of a man-made canal unfinished

Hooker Chemicals Corp. used this as a landfill

The runoff started emerging throughout the community

The seepage caused adverse effects among community members

Some included: birth defects, miscarriages, still births, cancers, heart diseases, nervous system defects and other health related issues

The tragedy was resolved only after many activist efforts


Large areas of contaminated properties that have been abandoned or are not being used up to their potential because of real or suspected pollution

No one wanted to redevelop brownfields because of liability


Why does no one want to redevelop brownfields?

redeveloping brownfields
Redeveloping Brownfields

Reusing contaminated properties can rebuild old cities, create jobs, increase the tax base, and prevent needless destruction of open space at urban margins

Programs have been established at the federal and state levels to encourage brownfield recycling

Must pass EPA standards

what do we do with toxic and hazardous wastes
What do we do with toxic and hazardous wastes?
  • Produce less waste!
    • Modify manufacturing processes, recycle, and reuse material
  • Convert to less hazardous substances! (several processes to make hazardous materials less toxic)
    • Physical treatments- tie up or isolate substances
    • Incineration- burning wastes
    • Chemical processing- transform materials into nontoxic
    • Bioremediation- uses microorganisms to absorb, accumulate, and detoxify toxic compounds
what else do we do with toxic and hazardous wastes
What else do we do with toxic and hazardous wastes?
  • Store permanently!
    • Permanent retrievable storage- placing waste storage containers in a secure building, salt mine, or bedrock cavern where they can be inspected periodically and retrieved for repacking or for transfer
    • Secure landfills- must be safe
      • Thick bottom cushion of compacted clay
      • Layer of gravel over the clay and drain pipes to collect seepage
      • Thick polyethylene liner
      • Layer of soil or absorbent sand cushions
      • Wastes packed in drums, separated into small units

What is one method of disposing of hazardous wastes?