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Chapter 17. Solid wastes!. Wasted Resources . Less than 5% of the world’s population (4.6% in the USA) Produce more than 33% of the world’s solid waste. Its a symptom of affluenza. Shows how wasteful a society can be. Many of trashed resources are recyclable

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Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Solid wastes!

Wasted resources
Wasted Resources

  • Less than 5% of the world’s population (4.6% in the USA) Produce more than 33% of the world’s solid waste.

    • Its a symptom of affluenza.

  • Shows how wasteful a society can be.

    • Many of trashed resources are recyclable

      • Aluminum, Steel, Tires, plastics.

    • Many are not necessary.

      • Disposable diapers.

Producing less waste
Producing less waste

  • Waste management systems attempt to reduce environmental harm from wastes.

    • Philosophy accepts that more waste will be produced.

    • Goal is to transfer or contain wastes safely.

  • Most common method is the landfill


  • Sanitary landfills are designed to contain and hide MSW.

    • They’re more environmentally friendly than open dumps.

    • Designed to catch and contain leachate: a liquid that seeps to the bottom of the fill.

Waste reduction
Waste reduction

  • Waste should be reused, recycled or composted.

    • Discourages waste production

    • Encourages waste reduction or prevention

    • Saves energy, natural resources, and money.

  • Encourages sustainability.


  • Six ways to maintain sustainability

    • Consume less (affluenza)

    • Redesign processes and manufacturing to use less raw resources.

    • Redesign processes and manufacturing to produce less waste.

    • Develop products that are easy to repair, composted or recycled.

    • Design products that last longer.

    • Eliminate unecessary packaging.


  • Designing industrial ecosystems

    • One companies waste becomes another’s raw materials (p. 393)

    • Example: The ash created by the burning of coal in a powerplant could be sold to cement manufacturers.

      • Manure from animal farms could be sold to vegetable farmers.


  • Helps reduce resource use, and saves money.

    • Developing countries reuse materials, but open dumps are hazardous to the poor.

    • E-waste: old TV sets, computers, and cell phones.

      • Discarded units are shipped to developing countries with lax environmental laws and are stripped for their reuseable parts.

      • Workers are exposed to toxic metals like cadmium, lead and mercury.

Reusable stuff
Reusable stuff

  • Around the home:

    • Use refillable metal water bottles.

    • Washable plastic lunch containers.

    • Use boxes instead of plastic wrap or tinfoil.

    • Recycle rechargeable batteries

    • Use cloth grocery bags.

    • Use cloth napkins.


  • Closed loop: Paper to paper

    • Open loop: raw materials to something different.

  • The economic benefits of recycling usually outweigh the costs.

    • Unless the resource is hazardous

    • Or the demand for the product fluctuates.

    • Landfill charges are often cheaper.

Burn and bury
Burn and bury

  • MSW can be burned in an incinerator.

    • High operating costs

    • Air pollution (lots of toxic smoke)

    • Citizen opposition (Not in my backyard)

Hazardous waste
Hazardous waste

  • Developed countries are the only one’s with a technology level high enough to produce most hazardous wastes.

    • Considered waste that is toxic, inflammable, corrosive, or reactive enough to explode or release toxic fumes.

    • 1980 CERCLA: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

    • AKA: Superfund.

Polluter pays

  • Clean-up of a hazardous area was designated as polluter-pays by the Superfund act.

    • In 1995, congress changed the funding to taxpayers.

    • This greatly slowed the progress of the National Priorities List (or NPL).

    • Factories, junkyards, old landfills, gas stations.

Harmful chemicals

Cleaning solvents




Stains, Varnishes

Oil based paints


Dry-cell batteries





Rodenticides (Arsenic)


Gasoline/Motor oil

Battery acid


Solvents/Rust remover

Harmful Chemicals

Burn bury

  • When burned, toxic waste enters the air/water.

  • Underground wells can be used to store some wastes

    • Wastes pumped into porous rock formations.

  • Surface impoundments can house waste.

    • Basically a pit or lagoon. As water evaporates, waste settles to bottom.

Trash incineration


Reduces trash volume

Less need for landfills

Low water pollution




Toxic Air pollution

Toxic ash

Discourages waste production.

Trash incineration

Surface impoundments


Low cost

Quick to build

Waste can be retireved

Can store wastes indefinitely


Groundwater contamination

Air Pollution

Overflow from flooding

Disruption and leakage from earthquakes

Surface impoundments

Deep underground wells


Safe if done properly

Waste can be retrieved


Low cost


Leaks and spills at surface

Corrosion of well casing

Damaged by earth quakes

Deep Underground Wells


  • Various types of plants act like sponges to remove hazardous pollutants

    • Radioactive substances, organic compounds, and heavy metals can be removed from the soil by plants.

      • Sunflowers can be used to absorb radioactive strontium 90.

      • Willows and poplars prevent chemicals from reaching groundwater

      • Brake ferns can remove lead, arsenic, and other metals.

Heavy metal poisoning
Heavy Metal Poisoning

  • Lead

    • Symptoms: nervous system impairment, Lowered IQ (7.4 points average), shortened attention span, hyperactivity, hearing damage, various behavior disorders.

  • Mercury

    • Nervous system damage primarily to fetuses and infants.

    • May be converted into Methylmercury, which will accumulate in food chains. Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tuna, Tilefish, should not be eaten by pregnant women.