The ability of a substance to be broken down physically and/or chemically by microorganisms. For example, many chemicals, food scraps, cotton, wool, and paper are bio-degradable; plastics and polyester generally are not.
Decayed organic matter that can be used as a fertilizer or soil additive.
Composting is the controlled decomposition of yard wastes or food wastes to make a fine, nutrient-rich topsoil.
The protection and careful use of resources and the environment.
The act of purchasing or consuming goods and services as an end in itself.
Each county appoints a coordinator to assist residents and businesses in finding markets for their designated material. They publish recycling notices and newsletters, arrange for household hazardous waste collection, visit public groups to educate them, inspect institutions to assure compliance with local source separation laws, and may arrange for pickup of materials.
To separate into constituent parts or into simpler compounds through chemical change; to rot; the break down of organic matter by bacteria and fungi; to change the chemical structure and physical appearance of matter.
Every county designates the materials for which it can find stable markets. Municipalities are then expected to require residents to collect those items. Counties may require one list of materials for homes and another for businesses and institutions.
Everything is disposable, of course, but more products are intended to be used once and discarded. Students use disposables, but may not realize that they were considered luxuries a generation ago.
Diversion is any activity that keeps materials out of the waste stream. It can mean putting out a bin to collect paper or drink containers, next to a garbage can, or putting an extra roll-off (big waste bin) on a construction site just for wood scrap, or a basket in your kitchen to collect paper. It may also mean cleaning house and filling bags for a charity or garage sale, or for handing down to another family. It may even mean composting kitchen scraps at home.
A site used to dispose of solid waste without environmental controls.
Oil, coal, and natural gas are all fossilized ancient plants. They all burn to supply energy and all pollute the air. Because we have limited wind and solar energy production, and nuclear energy presents its own difficulties, manufacturing operations are mostly dependent on fossil fuel.
Water found beneath the earth’s surface that fills pores between materials, such as sand, soil, or gravel; supplies wells and springs.
Any waste material that is potentially dangerous, including but not limited to material that is explosive, radioactive, ignitable, corrosive, toxic, or reactive.
Products containing hazardous substances that are used and disposed of by individuals rather than industry. Examples include paints, solvents, and pesticides.
A facility used in the process of burning trash at very high temperatures, producing heat, electricity and toxic ash; furnace for burning waste under controlled conditions. (see resource recovery).
Many counties and some private enterprises operate these facilities that take mixed materials and separate them for recycling. Some use the subsidized labor of job training programs. These operations allow residents to combine most materials in one collection container, but also introduce costs into the recycling process.
A specially constructed site for safely and effectively disposing of garbage; the disposal of solid waste at engineered facilities in a series of compacted layers on land and the frequent daily covering of waste with soil. Fill areas are carefully prepared to prevent nuisances or public health hazards, and clay and/or synthetic liners are used to prevent releases to ground water. If no hazardous materials are placed into the landfill it may be possible to reclaim the site after the landfill is closed.
a. Sanitary landfills are disposal sites for non-hazardous solid waste spread in layers, compacted to the smallest practical volume and covered by material applied at the end of each operating day; and
b. Secure chemical landfills are disposal sites for hazardous waste, selected and designed to minimize the chance of release of hazardous substances into the environment.
Trash that is carelessly dropped or left about (especially in public places); waste material which is discarded on the ground or otherwise disposed of improperly or thoughtlessly.
A potentially harmful gas released from landfills as trash decomposes. Methane gas is composed of carbon and hydrogen with the chemical formula CH4. It is lighter than air, colorless, odorless, and flammable. Vents placed around landfills allow methane and other gases to escape into the atmosphere, or to be burned as a fuel source. Methane gas is considered a greenhouse gas, one that traps heat within the earth's atmosphere.
Waste that is generated in public households, commercial establishments, institutions and businesses. MSW includes used paper, discarded cans and bottles, food scraps, yard trimmings, and other items. Industrial process wastes, agricultural wastes, mining wastes, and sewage sludge are not MSW. Practically, towns can't keep track of how much and what waste comes strictly from homes, unless transporters collect from homes and institutions on separate days. Big businesses and industries arrange their own garbage collection, so these wastes can be measured separately. This collection of lessons concentrates on municipal waste because students can directly affect it and because diversion of this waste has the most room for improvement.
Resources that are obtained from the earth, such as petroleum, coal, and water. Some natural resources, such as wood, can be replaced while others, such as water and natural gas, are of limited supply.
Substance that cannot be broken down in the environment by livings things.
Pollution from numerous widespread locations or sources that have no well-defined points of origin. May originate from landuse activities and/or from the atmosphere. Examples include leaching of excess fertilizer from fields and acid rain.
A finite resource that cannot be replaced once it is used (for example, petroleum, minerals).
Organic, or biodegradable, materials will decompose if buried through the action of bacteria and other soil organisms. But, as noted, nothing decomposes well in landfills. Organic wastes tend to be wet, and require excess energy for incineration. For these reasons, organic waste is worth diverting to home or school composting, where space is available. Organic wastes include food wastes, paper, cardboard, cotton, silk, and dead plants. Meat and dead animals are also organic, but inappropriate for composting since their decomposition is harder to accomplish and they attract scavengers. Many products are marketed as organic so that they seem safer, and they often are, but they still use resources.
Wrappers or containers used to protect food or other products from dirt, germs, and damage. Packaging often provides information about the product. Sometimes goods contain more packaging than they need.
A material made from petroleum capable of being molded, extruded, or cast into various shapes. There are many different kinds of plastic made from different combinations of compounds.
Manufacturers are often eager to show that they are helping the environment by using recycled materials. This led, years ago, to fraudulent claims of recycled content. A paper manufacturer, for instance, might use cuttings from the factory floor, reintroducing the material into the manufacturing process. This is a good practice, but it is not the same as accepting paper that has been collected from users at the end of its useful life. In fact, it is no more than what most factories do because it cuts their costs. So, to clearly express the difference, the terms pre-consumer and post-consumer are used. Post-consumer content supports municipal recycling by creating a market for the materials.
Recycling means the processing of materials in order to make them ready for marketing. In some cases, the only processing needed is proper packaging and transportation. Newspaper can be wet and cooked down in place of wood pulp so the processing is only the amount needed for virgin material. But other recycling takes more processing. Computers need to be completely dismantled by hand so that the different parts may be packaged and sent to produce new items. Used cars are dismantled to remove fluids and (recently) mercury switches, crushed for shipping, shredded to remove the non-metal parts, and, finally, resmelted. Stumps and old pallets (skids) may be ground for mulch.
The activity of buying/obtaining goods and services in exchange for money or the consideration of something of monetary value.
Separating and collecting materials, industrial processing (grinding, blending, melting, addition of new stock) needed to make the material useful. Recycling may turn materials back into the same commodity (newspapers back to newsprint) or may turn one commodity into another (used lubricant into fuel or used drink bottles into fiber and cloth).
Source reduction is purchase or use avoidance. Schools that send notices home only with the oldest child to avoid duplication, credit card holders who use e-billing, and consumers who buy in bulk all practice source reduction by cutting off the need for materials at the source.
Resources that are created or produced at least the same rate at which they are consumed, so that there is no net loss of the resource. Plant and animal materials are considered renewable because, with farming or natural reproduction, they may be endlessly replaced. Sunlight and wind are also considered renewable. Non-renewable resources are those that were formed with the earth, such as metals and stone. Some resources are considered non-renewable because, even though they do renew themselves, the process is so slow that it is not helpful to us: swamps are continually turned to coal, but the process takes a few million years. Recycling the non-renewable resources is therefore most important, but even the renewables should be recycled to minimize pollution and energy use.
1) The recovery of material or energy from solid waste.
2) The process of obtaining matter or energy from materials formerly discarded.
Reuse is the redistribution of materials for use as they are. It may mean resale or donation, or unusual uses of an object. Reuse may require a little cleanup, but no disassembly.
These are modern structures built with a clay foundation and several liners to keep any liquids from escaping the landfill and entering the groundwater. As each portion is filled, it is capped, or covered, to keep rainwater from entering the landfill. Garbage deposited in the landfill is covered each day with soil or dry waste to prevent fire and repel scavengers. Some are designed to hold hazardous waste.
Solid waste is any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous materials resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural activities and from community activities (does not include solid or dissolved materials in domestic sewage or in industrial sources subject to permits under the CWA).
Waste managers think of garbage as a stream because it is like a river that never stops flowing. The solid waste stream includes everything that isn't hazardous waste or sewage. Even some liquids are "solid waste." We talk about the "total solid waste stream," which includes household waste, business waste, industrial waste, bulk trash, home appliances, construction debris, car batteries, tires, "red bag" medical waste, and yard waste. But the "municipal solid waste stream" only includes the waste from homes, small businesses and institutions that are served by the municipal collection system.
Some items are separated industrially from the waste stream: for instance, the leaded glass in CRTs is separated from the plastic shell by technicians. But businesses and homes are expected to separate some items at the source - the place we use them - so that no industrial separation is needed. Those items are the designated recyclables named by the county.
These are the charges that transporters of garbage must pay to deposit waste at transfer stations, landfills, or resource recovery facilities. Transporters pay by the ton and the waste is weighed as the truck rolls over scales on the way in and out of the facility. The transporter then passes the cost on to the customer.
A holding facility for garbage where waste is reloaded into large trucks for more cost-efficient transportation to landfills, recycling dealers, and resource recovery sites.
Facility where solid waste is transferred from collection vehicles to larger trucks or rail cars for longer distance transport.
Processing and or removal to final resting place or transfer to a place for re-use or recovering of waste.
The weight or volume of materials and products that enter the waste stream before recycling, composting, landfilling, or combustion takes place. Also can represent the amount of waste generated by a given source or category of sources. Source: US EPA
Reducing the amount of waste generated and disposed using strategies such as waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and composting or energy recovery. Preventing or decreasing the amount of waste being generated through waste prevention, and recycling, or by purchasing recycled and environmentally preferable products.
To clean or repair something old and use it again instead of throwing it away. Practices which find alternate uses or alternate avenues for use of an item rather than expending energy to dispose it or alter its form by recycling or composting.
A watershed is the area of land that drains into a particular body of water such as a river, lake, stream or bay. It is separated from other systems by high points in the area such as hills. It includes both the waterway itself and the entire land area whose streams and rainfall eventually drain into it.