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Waste Management

Essay by   •  February 9, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,100 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,879 Views

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Municipal waste is disposed of in three different ways. As of 2004 it is estimated that 71 percent is land filled, 16 percent incinerated, and 13 percent recycled. Other wastes that have to be disposed of are nuclear and hazardous wastes. The environmental effects of different waste management solutions will be discussed as well as ideal ways, in my opinion, to dispose of different forms of solid wastes.

Landfills are the most commonly used form of disposing wastes today. It is also a form of disposal that causes many environmental impacts that are in need of addressing. A major effect of landfills is Leachate, a contaminated liquid that percolates through the waste in a landfill and probably the most addressed issue. This contaminated liquid can soak into the ground and cause water contamination according to the Department of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University. Another effect of landfills is air pollution. Not only can air pollution from landfills contribute to acid rain and green house gases but it can also have an impact on the citizens around it. Soil gas migration can cause a four-fold elevation of risk for bladder cancer and leukemia among women reported a study at the New York Health Department's website.

The second form of waste disposal is incineration. This type of disposal releases many air pollutants to include admium, lead, mercury, dioxin, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide contribute to acid rain and smog. The incinerators mainly contribute to air pollution but the ash left over from burning waste has to be buried in landfills thus contributing to ground pollution too.

The last waste management system is recycling. Recycling consists of processing used or abandoned materials for use in creating new products. This method was created to address issues created from the other two forms of waste management and has a positive impact on the environment. It helps to reduce the amount of waste needed for disposal by making a portion of it available for reuse.

Hazardous and Nuclear waste disposal is a very serious issue. It can cause soil contamination, water contamination, air pollution, and can have a huge impact on plant and wildlife. The problem with hazardous and nuclear waste is that no "clear cut" solution has been identified to properly dispose of this waste. Many of it has been buried in landfills or underground and then leaked into the earth, thus once again contributing to water contamination. It is common knowledge that the effects of hazardous and nuclear waste is very profound and can lead to death or mutation of plants, animals and people that come into contact with it.

The realization of the negative environmental effects that waste disposal has can be a very sobering experience. It has enacted many people to question what we should do and how to handle this waste. Organizations such as Green Peace and the Environmental Protection Agency make it their goal to educate society as well as implement laws to govern the disposal of waste so that the negative effects that these wastes have on the environment is reduced. These organizations have educated individuals and tried to get each person to do their part to help the environment. What can we do to help is a question that many Americans now ask.

An obvious solution to handle solid waste is through recycling. There are many useful products that can be created from the recycling of glass, plastic, paper and many other items. The major factor that should be focused on is the recycling of paper. I say this because according to EPA.gov, paper contributes to 40 percent of a landfill's contents. This staggering statistics lead to my long- term solution in handling waste.

The government should enact a law that makes it mandatory that all Americans must recycle their newspapers. This step alone will reduce the amount of garbage that goes into our landfills by 13 percent (Epa.gov). A department should be created to

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