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Solid and Hazardous Waste CHAPTER 24. OBJ 24.1. Wasting Resources. United States 4.6% of the world's population 33% of the world's solid waste 75% of its hazardous waste. Solid Waste Source Reduction Reuse Recycling Composting Landfills Hazardous Waste Superfund Sites. OBJ 24.2.

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wasting resources

OBJ 24.1

Wasting Resources
  • United States
    • 4.6% of the world's population
    • 33% of the world's solid waste
    • 75% of its hazardous waste
Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites
solid waste

OBJ 24.2

Solid Waste
  • 98.5% is from
    • 1. Mining
    • 2. Oil and gas production
    • 3. Agriculture
    • 4. Sewage treatment
    • 5. Industry
  • 1.5% is municipal solid waste (MSW)
solid waste5
Solid Waste
  • Problems
    • Disease (Rodent and pest reduction)
    • Fire potential
    • Decrease in the aesthetic quality of the environment

municipal solid waste
MSW—more commonly known as trash or garbage—consists of everyday items

Product packaging

Grass clippings




Food scraps





OBJ 24.3

Municipal Solid Waste


*Includes rubber and textiles

Source: EPA Office of Solid Waste, Municipal Solid Waste Fact Sheet

  • In 2008, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced more than 250 million tons of MSW
    • Approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day (1680 pounds/year)
    • Up from 2.7 pounds per person per day in 1960

  • Several MSW management practices prevent or divert materials from the wastestream
    • Source reduction
    • Reuse
    • Recycling
    • Composting

agriculture waste

OBJ 24.4

Agriculture Waste
  • Livestock produce sewage
    • 200,000 hens, 1200 head of cattle in a feedlot, & 10,500 hogs may produce as much waste as 20,000 people
    • In the U.S., there are 337 million hen, 96.1 million head of cattle & 58.7 million hogs which produce twice as much sewage as all the humans in the U.S.
Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites
source reduction

OBJ 24.5

Source Reduction
  • Source reduction (waste prevention) means consuming and throwing away less
  • Purchasing durable, long-lasting goods
  • Seeking products and packaging that are as free of toxins as possible

source reduction16
Source Reduction
  • May be as complex as redesigning a product
    • use less raw material in production
    • have a longer life
    • be used again after its original use is completed
  • Source reduction actually prevents the generation of waste in the first place, it is the most preferable method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment

source reduction17
Source Reduction
  • Since 1977, the weight of 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles has been reduced from 68 grams each to 51 grams
  • That means that 250 million pounds of plastic per year has been kept out of the waste stream
Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites

OBJ 24.6

  • Reusing items by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups, or selling them
  • Use a product more than once, either for the same purpose or for a different purpose
  • Reusing, when possible, is preferable to recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again
ways to reuse
Ways to Reuse
  • Using durable coffee mugs
  • Using cloth napkins or towels
  • Refilling bottles
  • Donating old magazines or surplus equipment
  • Reusing boxes
  • Turning empty jars into containers for leftover food
  • Purchasing refillable pens and pencils
  • Participating in a paint collection and reuse program
Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites
  • Recycling, including composting, diverted 64 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 1999, up from 34 million tons in 1990
  • Typical materials that are recycled include batteries, recycled at a rate of 96.9%, paper and paperboard at 41.9%, and yard trimmings at 45.3%
  • These materials and others may be recycled through curbside programs, drop-off centers, buy-back programs, and deposit systems

  • Recycling
    • Prevents the emission of many greenhouse gases and water pollutants
    • Saves energy, supplies valuable raw materials to industry
    • Creates jobs
    • Stimulates the development of greener technologies
    • Conserves resources for our children’s future
    • Reduces the need for new landfills and combustors
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that affect global climate
    • In 1996, prevented the release of 33 million tons of carbon into the air—roughly the amount emitted annually by 25 million cars.


Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites

OBJ 24.7

  • Composting is the controlled biological decomposition of organic matter, such as food and yard wastes, into humus, a soil-like material
  • Composting is nature's way of recycling organic wastes into new soil used in vegetable and flower gardens, landscaping, and many other applications

  • Composting
    • Keeps organic wastes out of landfills
    • Provides nutrients to the soil
    • Increases beneficial soil organisms (e.g., worms and centipedes)
    • Suppresses certain plant diseases
    • Reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides
    • Protects soils from erosion
    • Assists pollution remediation

Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites
  • Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), landfills that accept MSW are primarily regulated by state, tribal, and local governments
  • EPA, however, has established national standards these landfills must meet in order to stay open
  • The number of landfills in the United States is steadily decreasing—from 8,000 in 1988 to 2,300 in 1999
  • The capacity, however, has remained relatively constant
  • New landfills are much larger than in the past
resource conservation and recovery act
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was enacted by Congress in 1976 and amended in 1984.

The act's primary goal is to protect human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal.

In addition, RCRA calls for conservation of energy and natural resources, reduction in waste generated, and environmentally sound waste management practices.

federal landfill standards
Federal Landfill Standards
  • Location restrictions ensure that landfills are built in suitable geological areas away from faults, wetlands, flood plains, or other restricted areas
  • Liners are geomembrane or plastic sheets reinforced with two feet of clay on the bottom and sides of landfills

OBJ 24.8

Landfill Design

The bottom liner may be layers of clay or other synthetic material (clay, plastic, or composite), which is placed on compacted soil.

The bottom of the landfill is sloped and pipes along the bottom collect leachate. This leachate collections system must be very carefully planned and built by engineers. It is usually a system of pipes. (These pipes are among a gravel and sand layer.) The leachate is then pumped away and treated at a plant.

Trash is dumped onto the landfill and consistently layered with soil to promote safer and better decomposition.

A cover is placed over the landfill to keep water out (to prevent eventual leachate formation).

Landfills also must have a system to dispose of methane gas. The structure of this system must be carefully engineered.

federal landfill standards48
Federal Landfill Standards
  • Operating practices such as compacting and covering waste frequently with several inches of soil help reduce odor; control litter, insects, and rodents; and protect public health
  • Groundwater monitoring requires testing groundwater wells to determine whether waste materials have escaped from the landfill
federal landfill standards49
Federal Landfill Standards
  • Closure and postclosure care include covering landfills and providing long-term care of closed landfills
  • Corrective action controls and cleans up landfill releases and achieves groundwater protection standards
  • Financial assurance provides funding for environmental protection during and after landfill closure (i.e., closure and postclosure care)

Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites
household hazardous waste
Household Hazardous Waste
  • Common household items such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides contain hazardous components
  • Labels – danger, warning, caution, toxic, corrosive, flammable, or poison identify products that might contain hazardous materials
  • Leftover portions of these products are called household hazardous waste (HHW)
  • These products, if mishandled, can be dangerous to your health and the environment
hw facts and figures
HW Facts and Figures
  • Americans generate 1.6 million tons of HHW per year
  • The average home can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of HHW in the basement and garage and in storage closets
  • During the 1980s, many communities started special collection days or permanent collection sites for handling HHW
  • In 1997, there were more than 3,000 HHW permanent programs and collection events throughout the United States
proper handling
Proper Handling
  • The best way to handle HHW is to reduce the amount initially generated by giving leftover products to someone else to use
  • To deal with household hazardous waste, many communities have set up collection programs to prevent HHW from being disposed of in MSW landfills and combustors – Glendale
  • These programs ensure the safe disposal of HHW in facilities designed to treat or dispose of hazardous waste
  • More than 3,000 HHW collection programs exist in the United States
  • Proper HHW Management
    • Reduction and recycling of HHW conserves resources and energy that would be expended in the production of more products
    • Reuse of hazardous household products can save money and reduce the need for generating hazardous substances
    • Proper disposal prevents pollution that could endanger human health and the environment
Solid Waste
  • Source Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Landfills
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Superfund Sites
case study love canal
Case Study: Love Canal

The Love Canal neighborhood is in the city of Niagara Falls, New York.

In 1978 the neighborhood included about 800 homes, 240 low-income apartments, and the 99th Street Elementary School.

The neighborhood was located over and around a landfill that had been active in earlier decades.


The land was sold in 1920 and became a municipal and industrial dump site.

  • From 1942 to 1953, Hooker Chemical dumped about 21,000 tons of ‘toxic chemicals” at the site.

In 1953 the landfill was covered with layers of dirt.

  • The Niagara Falls Board of Education bought the site from Hooker Chemical.
  • As the city started to grow into the area, the 99th Street Elementary School was built over the landfill, and homes were built around the site.

From the late 1950s into the 1970s, residents reported foul odors and complained that “substances” were seeping into their basements, yards, and the school playground.

  • The city assisted by covering up the seeping “substances.”
  • Tests found high levels of PCB’s in storm sewers and toxic chemicals in wells.
environmental damages
Environmental Damages
  • Reports suggested that there was an unusually high rate of birth defects and miscarriages among Love Canal families.
  • In 1980 the EPA announced that chromosome damage had been found in 11 out of 36 residents tested in the area.
  • There has not been conclusive proof of a link between Love Canal and any illness.
  • The health of residents of the Love Canal area is being monitored in a number of ongoing studies.
about superfund
About Superfund
  • Years ago, people were less aware of how dumping chemical wastes might affect public health and the environment
  • On thousands of properties where such practices were intensive or continuous, the result was uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, such as abandoned warehouses and landfills
about superfund67

OBJ 24.9

About Superfund
  • Citizen concern over the extent of this problem led Congress to establish the Superfund Program in 1980 to locate, investigate, and clean up the worst sites nationwide
  • The EPA administers the Superfund program in cooperation with individual states and tribal governments
  • The office that oversees management of the program is the Office of Emergency and Remedial Response (OERR)
superfund legislation
Superfund Legislation
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liabilities Act (CERCLA); 1980
    • “Superfund” to clean up abandoned sites
    • Hazard Ranking System (HRS)
    • National Priority List (NPL)
    • Reauthorized in 1986 (SARA)
Intended as a solution to those previously contaminated sites with no-one to pay (no PRPs)
  • Two levels
    • Emergency response
      • immediate threat to human health or environment
    • Long term remediation
      • if Hazard Ranking System (HRS) shows a score over 27.5, it is added to the National Priorities List (NPL) for Superfund cleanup
      • 1300 sites on NPL in 1990, more to come
The Baird & McGuire Site is ranked by the EPA as the 14th worst site in the nation out of over 2,000 Superfund sites
superfund sites
Superfund Sites

Red indicates currently on final National Priority List, yellow is proposed, green is deleted (usually meaning having been cleaned up). – October 2008

local superfund sites
Local Superfund Sites

Varsol Spill

  • northeast portion of the MIA
  • overlies the Biscayne Aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for the residents of SE Florida
  • since 1966, approximately 15 spills and leaks at the site (2 million gallons)
  • caused from petroleum solvent discharge from an underground pipeline leak at MIA
  • surface water and ground water were contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • added to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in 1983
  • investigative study in 1985 determined that there was no trace of the petroleum solvent at or around the airport
  • factors are thought to have contributed to the dissipation of the contaminants in the aquifer, including contaminant recovery, biodegradation, and incorporation into "background" contamination of the aquifer
  • deleted from the NPL in 1988