Management of Solid Waste Systems

Iraj Zandi

DOI: 10.2190/EH8Q-49G8-CDCL-2B3B


This paper attempts to analyze one aspect of the environment, that is, the solid waste problem. The nature and characteristics of solid waste management systems are discussed; the substantial differences between the litter problems and the solid waste problems are shown.

It is pointed out that major changes in the solid waste management system are possible, essentially through three different policy decisions: lowering the standard of living, recycling, and or multiple-purpose design. Lowering the standard of living is rejected on the ground that it is neither desirable nor necessary.

It is shown that banning nonreturnable bottles from the market will not ease to a noticeable degree either the solid waste problems or the litter problem.

It is stressed that, while the emergence of recycling as a national policy, in general, is a very encouraging sign, recycling by an engineered system should not be confused with "boy scout" recycling, that is, recycling by volunteer groups. Examples are cited which indicate that this type of voluntary action may even do greater damage to the environment.

It is asserted that solid waste management is a complex problem. Reasonable solutions can only be found by examining the whole gamut of human activities from resources extraction, through production and utilization of goods to disposal of solid waste. It is shown that simple solutions are not answers, that a wise management implies seeking the minimization of the adverse effects of solid waste on public health, reducing the nuisance, eliminating the ugliness, cutting costs, and increasing resource re-utilization by creation of sane governmental institutions and the development of a learned profession. Our management of solid waste should be multidimensional, time sensitive, multipurpose, and a conservationist endeavor.

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