19: Solid Waste Management
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Flushable wipes, are flushable right? No. Over and over, plumbers and waste water treatment workers state that they do not degrade fast enough and clogs drains and sewers across the globe. Not all flushable wipes are created equal, and some are better than others. Unfortunately, there are no legal requirements these products are required to passed to be called flushable, and the only guiding body is the integrity of the company manufacturing the wipes. If you want advice about your body you go to your doctor. If you want advice about your pipes, talk to your plumber. They will tell you that the only things that should go down your toilet are the 3 P’s, pee, poo, and (toilet) paper.
- 19.1: Waste Generation
- Trash is a unique human construct because in healthy ecosystems, one organisms waste is always used by another organism. Wastes may be biodegradable or nondegradable. Agriculture, industry, and mining are responsible for most waste generation globally. However, the U.S. generates about 4.9 lbs of municipal solid waste per person.
- 19.2: Waste Disposal
- Open dumps, sanitary landfills, and incinerators are three primary methods of waste disposal. Open dumps increase disease transmission and pollution and are banned in the U.S. Sanitary landfills seal trash to prevent pollution. Incineration can reduce waste volume and generate electricity, but it releases some air pollutants.
- 19.3: Solid Waste and Marine Life
- Ocean dumping or the escape of trash into the ocean can form garbage patches, soups of small plastic pieces trapped in circular ocean currents. Plastic harms marine life by causing choking, poisoning, and damage to internal organs.
- 19.4: Waste Reduction
- The waste management hierarchy lists processes for handling waste in order of preference. Unfortunately, the least preferred process (disposal) is currently used for a large volume of waste. Individuals can limit the impacts of waste through the four R's: are refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Additionally, composting at home can reduce food wastes.
Modified by Rachel Schleiger (CC-BY-NC).