A majority of us think that the procedure of solid waste management involves dumping the waste in landfills or burning the solid waste in incinerators. While both of these procedures are the primary methods through which waste is managed across Australia, there are numerous other elements that make up the integrated solid waste management system. Having proper waste disposal techniques are important as these can help to reduce the volume and toxicity of the waste that is dumped. Recent developments have allowed us to adopt new methods that are selected and used according to the form, composition, and quantity of the waste that is to be disposed off.
Below we highlight some of the most effective waste disposal and management techniques.
Dumps and landfills
Landfills: This is the method that is most widely used all across the Australian mainland. These landfills are created artificially to reduce or eliminate the risks from disposal of the waste materials out in the open at public spaces. The sites are chosen careful, in a manner that allows the land features to work as a buffer between the landfill and the environment at large. Any area that would not directly or indirectly affect the environment is ideal for the development of a landfill. While the use of the landfills does not pose a threat to the public health or the environment, the cost of setting up the landfills is comparatively huge. All forms of solid waste can be disposed off in these landfills after the recyclable items have been separated for other purposes.
Nowadays, there are numerous firms all across Australia that offer to handle the entire waste disposal procedure. For example, in Canberra there are specialized organizations for skip hire Canberra and they lend skip bins to their customers and handle the waste disposal for them.
Controlled dumping: These sites are generally found in the urban areas. They resemble the landfill in that they have almost all of the same features as that of the landfills, barring one or two. Features like tenure usage, basic record keeping and waste covering are generally available for the controlled dump yards but they lack a proper engineering design, planning and operation. They are, however, useful for disposing off the waste materials when these cannot be carried to the landfills, which are usually situated in the outskirts.
Bioreactor landfills: Technological research has given way to a number of new methods of waste disposal such as the bioreactor landfills. These landfills use microbiological processes to augment the waste decomposition procedure. However, there arises a need to continuously add liquid to sustain the optimal moisture for the microbial digestion. The liquid is added by re-circulating the landfill leachate. If and when the amount of leachate drops below the normal level, liquid waste such as sewage sludge is used for the procedure.
Biological waste treatment
Composting: This is a frequently used technique of waste disposal. It involves the controlled aerobic decomposition of organic waste materials by the use of small invertebrates or microorganisms. A major portion of the waste that is disposed off can be recycled to produce compost, which serves as a valuable soil conditioner. The compost is rich in nutrients and can be added as organic fertilizer for growing crops. Composting can be of different varieties such as vermin-composting, static pile composting and windrow composting.
Anaerobic digestion: This involves the use of biological processes to decompose the organic materials. While composting involves the use of air for the growth of the microbes, anaerobic digestion uses an environment that is free from oxygen and bacteria.
Incineration: This is a highly common method of waste disposal in Australia. It involves the combustion of the waste materials in the presence of oxygen. The incineration methodology is primarily used to recover energy for heating or generating electricity. There are several advantages to the incineration method such as reduction in the volume of waste generated, lesser transportation costs and decrease in the generation of greenhouse gases.
Gasification and pyrolysis: These are two similar methods that involve the decomposition of the organic waste materials by exposing them to minimal amounts of oxygen and very high temperatures. While pyrolysis does not involve the use of oxygen at all, gasification uses very low amounts of oxygen in the process. Out of the two methods, gasification is more useful since it results in the generation of energy from the burning procedure, without polluting the air in the region.
Even though a lot of waste materials are burnt in the open air, this method can be quite dangerous for the environmental health of Australia. Since the incinerators, in which the waste is burnt, lack pollution control devices, they release an array of harmful gases out into the open air, leading to worsening air quality in the process. However, despite the harmful effects of this method, it is practiced rampantly in numerous localities as it offers an easy solution to the disposal of the waste materials. This can only be stopped when there is adequate knowledge of the harmful effects of open waste burning among the local residents.
The waste problem in Australia can be tackled with the combined efforts of all the residents in the country. Each and everyone of us can contribute positively by putting greater thought into our consumption and disposal patterns. This can be done when people are educated about the harmful effects of waste mismanagement and are willing to participate in the reduction of the waste that is generated every year.