Effect of waste disposal and recycling in Nigeria
The generation, utilization and disposal of wastes (which constitute environmental hazards) are highlighted in this paper as a network flow problem. In this configuration, we construct and solve as optimal network flow, the problem of minimizing the cost of disposing wastes from sources of generation to dumpsites. Numerical applications based on iterative procedures suggest an appreciable (optimal) reduction in the cost of disposing wastes generated at production sites to various dumpsites. Wastes or effluents have over the years been growing in virtually every known city of the world since the great Industrial Revolution of Great Britain in the nineteenth century. The reason for this is that the quest for economic growth as well as development has led many a country to establish industries that can produce variety of goods and services required by the people. In the course of production and consumption of such goods and services, wastes are necessarily generated.
Since about 1970, the boom in the city solid wastes can only have matched the boom in the oil sector in Nigeria, heaps of which tend to disfigure the city image coupled with the tremendous environmental health hazards it poses. The rapid urbanization of major cities in Nigeria has led to serious environmental degradation with domestic and industrial wastes constituting with significant major forms of environmental problem. To this end, various levels of government, manufacturing industries and organizations have been trying their possible best to manage. Wastes generated particularly in the urban areas.
In view of the above, various of approaches and methods have been suggested and adopted at waste management vis-a-vis their cost effectiveness. Such methods include large scale incineration by use of incinerators Oduola (1986). This has been criticized for not being cost effective and poses environmental pollution problems, Oluwande and Owebokun (1986).
Allen (2001) suggest that any waste management approach in Nigerian cities will depend on the ability to forecast the magnitudes of the waste based on accurate data on present and future waste generation rates. This is in order to handle the problem efficiently and at the lowest possible cost: since the major factors that influence the volume of wastes in Nigerian cities include population size, standard of living, Land - use make up as well as other cultural factors. Other methods of wastes management such as compaction, crushing and comminution, tipping etc have been adopted without any meaningful success Nze (1977). The implication is that the resources expended in finding an effective means of waste management have gone down the drain, Okpala (1986), Egunjobi (1986).
In today’s society, people have become very wasteful. Many Americans have never lived or been exposed to an environment where resources were not plentiful, so there is a lack of appreciation for the resources that are easily accessible. The United States of America generates hundreds of million tons of solid waste per year. The commonly known term for solid waste is trash or garbage. Solid waste has become a major problem- it is a potential threat to public health, it scars the environment, and it can be a block to the economic development of an area because of the negative image it presents (Cardinali, 2001).
Waste can be loosely defined as any material that is considered to be of no further use to the owner and is, hence, discarded. However, most discarded waste can be reused or recycled, one of the principles of most waste management philosophies. What may be of no further use to one person and regarded as waste to be dumped, may be of use to the next person, and is the basis of the rag picking trade, the sifting through of refuse at landfills for recovery and resale, a very fundamental historical waste management practice still functioning in many countries, often conducted on a highly organised commercial basis.
Waste is generated universally and is a direct consequence of all human activities. Wastes are generally classified into solid, liquid and gaseous. Gaseous waste is normally vented to the atmosphere, either with or without treatment depending on composition and the specific regulations of the country involved. Liquid wastes are commonly discharged into sewers or rivers, which in many countries is subject to legislation governing treatment before discharge.
In many parts of the world such legislation either does not exist or is not sufficiently implemented, and liquid wastes are discharged into water bodies or allowed to infiltrate into the ground. Indiscriminant disposal of liquid wastes pose a major pollution threat to both surface and groundwater. Solid wastes, the subject of this chapter, are mainly disposed of to landfill, because landfill is the simplest, cheapest and most cost-effective method of disposing of waste (Barrett and Lawler, 1995). In most low- to medium-income developing nations, almost 100 per cent of generated waste goes to landfill. Even in many developed countries, most solid waste is landfilled. For instance, within the European Union, although policies of reduction, reuse, and diversion from landfill are strongly promoted, more than half of the member states still send in excess of 75 per cent of their waste to landfill (e.g. Ireland 92 per cent), and in 1999 landfill was still by far the main waste disposal option for Western Europe (EEA, 2006). Furthermore, although the proportion of waste to landfill may in future decrease, the total volumes of municipal solid waste (MSW) being produced are still increasing significantly, in excess of 3 per cent per annum for many developed nations (Douglas, 1992). Landfill is therefore likely to remain a relevant source of groundwater contamination for the foreseeable future (Allen, 2001).
Solid waste composition, rate of generation and methods of treatment and disposal vary considerably throughout the world and largely determine the potential of waste to impair groundwater quality. The purpose of this chapter is to outline the risk that waste disposal presents to groundwater quality and the information that is required to assess this risk.
Wastes generated by the full extent of human activities range from relatively innocuous substances such as food and paper waste to toxic substances such as paint, batteries, asbestos, healthcare waste, sewage sludge derived from wastewater treatment and as an extreme example, high-level (radioactive) waste in the form of spent nuclear fuel rods. Numerous classifications of solid wastes have been proposed (e.g. Tchobanoglous et al., 1993; Ali et al., 1999), and the following represents a simple classification of waste into broad categories according to its origin and risk to human and environmental health:
- household waste;
- municipal waste (MSW);
- commercial and non-hazardous industrial wastes;
- hazardous (toxic) industrial wastes;
- construction and demolition (C&D) waste;
- health care wastes – waste generated in health care facilities (e.g. hospitals, medical
- research facilities);
- human and animal wastes; and
- Incinerator wastes.
Household waste represents waste generated in the home and collected by municipal waste collection services. Municipal solid waste (MSW) includes this plus shop and office waste, food waste from restaurants, etc., also collected by municipal waste collection systems, plus waste derived from street cleaning, and green (organic) waste generated in parks and gardens.
Storage of waste in a disposal facility serves to minimise the effects of waste on the environment. This is achieved by restricting any effluent derived from the waste to a single location, where emissions can be controlled. If control is lacking or inadequate, disposal facilities may become point sources of groundwater contamination. In many regions, centralized waste disposal has historically occurred by land filling, wherein local quarries and gravel pits have been filled with waste because, in many cases, they simply constituted an appropriately sized hole in the ground. Such locations typically offered little protection against contamination of adjacent groundwater supplies. Legislation, designed to protect usable groundwater, has helped to reduce the incidence of this practice in many high to middle income countries (e.g. US EPA, 1974; CEC, 1980; NRA, 1992). Modern waste management practices involve disposal of waste in specially sited and engineered sites known as "sanitary landfills".
Waste accepted in municipal waste landfills in developed countries would normally consist of municipal solid wastes, plus commercial and non-hazardous industrial wastes, and construction and demolition (C&D) waste. There is a tendency in many countries for C&D waste, usually regarded as inert, to be buried on the construction site where it is generated. However, since downward percolating rainwater may leach heavy metals from C&D waste, recent waste regulations in some developed countries requires all C&D waste to be disposed of in landfills.
Human and animal wastes are usually not disposed of in landfills, although animal carcasses and waste from abattoirs may in some countries be disposed of in dumps and landfills. Human corpses are not generally regarded as waste, but they degrade in a similar way to other organic waste, and also produce leachate in significant quantities. The majority of corpses are buried in cemeteries, although a significant proportion are cremated (incinerated), the proportion varying from country to country depending on the proportions of different religious groups in the population and their funeral rites. The main health concern with human and animal wastes is the high concentrations of pathogenic organisms associated with this type of waste, and the potential it has to spread disease.
According to the most recent global statistics, the death rate from all causes is 9 per 1000 of the population. In many regions burials are concentrated into relatively small areas, such as municipal cemeteries, where each body introduces a heavy burden of organic, inorganic and biological parameters into the subsurface. Hydrogeological factors have historically not been taken into account when locating cemeteries and the potential impact of cemeteries on groundwater quality has not been considered (Fetter, 2001).
Animal and human remains, although not considered a ‘waste product’, represent a risk to the quality of local groundwater because of the proliferation of microorganisms that occurs during the process of corpse decomposition (Pacheco et al., 1991). The number of bacteria in a human body is greater than the number of human cells. Many of the bacterial cells are harmless saprophytes that benefit the host (e.g. by synthesizing vitamins or by metabolizing toxic waste products). However, some of the species will be pathogenic, or have the potential to be pathogenic. In addition, the human body is host to a variety of different viruses, fungi and protozoa that may cause disease if transmitted to a susceptible person. Most pathogens will remain viable for a period of time after the host dies; the length of time depending on the pathogen. In most cases long-term survival of the pathogen is unlikely, but notable exceptions have generated concerns amongst the general public and the scientific community during investigations of burial sites: The examination of graves containing the remains of smallpox, cholera, anthrax and plague victims, as well as victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic, have been subject to rigorous controls to prevent the potential dispersal of the pathogen from the burial site.
One of the main agents in decomposition (putrefaction) is Clostridium perfringens. These bacteria spread along blood vessels causing haemolysis, proteolysis and gas formation in blood and other tissues. The liquids produced through putrefaction contain a high density of microorganisms. Very few studies have been carried out on the microbiology of human putrefaction. The best known is by Corry (1978), who has published a catalogue of bacterial species that have been isolated from human cadavers; some of the species listed are pathogenic. These liquids can migrate down into the water table, particularly as coffins and caskets are not watertight and are liable to decay. Microbiological contaminants that may result from the decomposition of cadavers include Staphylococcus spp., Bacillus spp., Enterobacteriacae spp., faecal streptococci, Clostridium spp., Helicobacter pylori, enteroviruses, rotavirus, calicivirus, and F-specific RNA phage.
Spongberg and Becks (2000) list additional potential chemicals that can be released from cemeteries. These include arsenic and mercury (embalming and burial practices), formaldehyde (embalming, varnishes, sealers and preservatives) as well as lead, zinc and copper (coffins). Spongberg and Becks (2000) also discuss investigations in Ohio where increases in zinc, copper and lead in the soil at a large cemetery were observed. Significant increases in arsenic were thought to indicate contamination from embalming fluids or wood preservatives.
There are several historical accounts of pollution of water wells in the vicinity of cemeteries (e.g. Teale, 1881), but few recent studies of the microbiological impact of cemeteries on groundwater (West et al., 1998). An analysis of groundwater quality beneath an active cemetery in the UK provided evidence that confirms the risk to groundwater, although no pathogens or viruses were isolated. The impacts on groundwater, of three cemeteries in Sao Paulo and Santos, Brazil have been monitored by Pacheco et al. (1991), by installing piezometers throughout each of the cemetery sites. One cemetery is situated on Tertiary sediments, 4-12 m above the water table, one is on weathered granite, 4-9 m above the water table, and the third is on Quaternary sandy marine sediments, 0.6-2.2 m above the water table. Contamination of the piezometers by faecal coliforms, faecal streptococci and sulphite reducing clostridia was found to be widespread throughout all of the cemeteries. Thus, clearly, assessing groundwater pollution potential therefore needs to include the potential for pathogens from cemeteries, particularly from large cemeteries.
The rate at which waste is generated corresponds roughly with levels of income. In high-income countries of Europe and North America between 500 and 750 kg of solid waste are produced per person per year (OECD, 1997). In contrast, urban populations in most low-income countries, for example in Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire, generate between 100 and 200 kg of solid waste per person per year (Attahi, 1999; Onibokun and Kumuyi, 1999). Despite this lower rate, rapid urbanisation, particularly in low income developing countries has left little space for disposal of the increasing amounts of waste material being generated in urban settings (Sangodoyin, 1993). As a result, uncontrolled disposal (i.e. "fly tipping") is rife in many countries, and is a diffuse source of groundwater contamination.
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 check for improper disposal of newspapers and provide hefty fines for Americans that do now want to obey this law. It may seem strict but the overall benefits of this enactment would outweigh the initial cry of Americans that feel that this proposal is unfair. After this program has been implemented and the bugs worked out successfully the government should keep adding materials to the “mandatory recycling lists”. To think that if we could get a 100% recycling rate of paper, that would be a 40 percent reduction of waste disposal that goes into our landfills.
Another aspect of recycling that should be focuses on is the pay-as-you- throw program utilized in many cities today. Factors plaguing every American adult are economic issues because every American strives to survive economically in this world. The pay-as-you-throw program directly affects a consumer’s wallet by charging for the amount of waste a consumer disposes of. This program would make Americans more waste conscience. My idea to expand this program is rewarding households for recycling. For example, if a household recycles a certain amount of a certain product they should get a price cut in their disposal bill or rewarded with some sort of monetary item. The bottom line is that we have many different people in America and one aspect that connects us all is money. If you mess with people’s money they will listen.
Waste management is the collection, transportation, processing or disposal of waste materials, usually ones produced by human activity, in an effort to reduce their effect on human health and communities. Focus in recent decades has been to reduce waste materials' effect on the natural world and environment, and to recover resources from them through waste management (Miller, 2005). Municipal solid waste is the most common form of waste often referred to as trash or garbage. It consists of everyday items such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. In 2003, U.S. residents, businesses and institutions produced more than 236 million tons of municipal solid waste, which is approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day. This totals to 1,624 pounds of waste per year (Miller, 2005). As more countries develop and population growth rates increase around the world, the amount of waste produced will become a major environmental issue. Landfills, incineration and more traditional forms of waste management will have to give way to the widespread use of environmentally friendly techniques such as recycling, composting and source reduction.
The municipal waste management system was established a century ago to protect public health in America’s growing industrial cities. At the dawn of the 20th century the earliest municipal waste managers characterized municipal refuse using three categories: ashes, garbage and rubbish. Ashes were the residue of coal and wood used primarily for space heating and cooking (Spiegleman, 2006). Garbage was the waste from food preparation and rubbish was a miscellaneous category made of various worn out products and packaging. In addition to the wastes collected from households and businesses, municipal waste managers faced a staggering quantity of organic wastes generated by horses that served as the main means of transport in cities. Not surprisingly municipal refuse was seen as an urgent public health problem. Waste that was improperly managed, especially from households and communities, was a serious threat to the spread of infectious diseases. It only made sense to provide for the prompt removal of waste as a community service. This was one of the Progressive Era reforms instituted to make life more bearable in the growing industrial cities of North America. Over time the development of municipal crews in uniform who hauled the communities’ refuse to an official disposal site became the urban waste management standard (Spiegleman, 2006). By the 1960’s, municipal solid waste was beginning to be viewed as an environmental problem as well as a threat to public health. Ground water impacts from landfills and air pollution from waste incinerators were a continuing concern, but there was also a growing policy emphasis around resource conservation and materials recycling. In 1969, the National Environmental Policy Act made a commitment for the federal government to enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources (Spiegleman, 2006). In pursuit of this policy the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) produced annual reports characterizing the municipal solid waste in the country. The reports divided municipal waste into two basic categories: products and other wastes. Products are other manufactured goods and packaging, what was earlier called rubbish. Other wastes are primarily food scraps and yard trimmings. Insignificant a century ago, products are now the largest category of municipal solid waste. In an effort to conserve resources, the municipal solid waste management system in North America was enhanced during the mid 1980’s with the introduction of new municipal recycling services for certain recyclable products (Spiegleman, 2006). Paired with new technology recycling and source reduction was hoped to be the answer to growing waste management problems. Despite significant public investment, management programs have not yet achieved the desire for significant reduction of waste.
States and communities nationwide are now actively pursuing an integrated solid waste management approach because no single management option alone can handle all of our nation’s waste. It is important to use a combination of techniques in order to provide the most cost-effective, efficient and safest solutions for each community and the environment. The EPA has ranked the most environmentally sound strategies for municipal solid waste. Source reduction (including reuse) is the most preferred method, followed by recycling and composting, and lastly, disposal in incinerator facilities and landfills. Currently in the United States, 30 percent of solid waste is recovered and recycled or composted, 14 percent is incinerated and 56 percent is disposed of in landfills (Miller, 2005).
During the past 35 years, the amount of waste each person creates has almost doubled from 2.7 to 4.4 pounds per day. The most effective way to stop this trend is by preventing waste in the first place (Miller, 2005). Waste prevention; also know as source reduction, is the practice of designing, manufacturing, purchasing, or using materials such as products and packaging in ways that reduce the amount of trash created. Reusing items is another way to stop waste at the source because it delays or avoids that item's entry in the waste collection and disposal system. Finding a way to reuse items such as clothes and appliances can prevent millions of pounds of waste from entering the environment. There are more than 6,000 reuse centers around the country, ranging from specialized programs for building materials or unneeded materials in schools to local programs such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army (Miller, 2005). Source reduction can also help reduce waste disposal and handling costs because it avoids the costs of recycling, municipal composting, land filling, and incineration. Source reduction also benefits the environment by conserving resources and reducing pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Source reduction can be a successful method of reducing waste generation.
Recycling, including composting, diverted 72 million tons of material from the environment in 2003, setting a national record. While recycling has grown in general, recycling of specific materials has grown even more drastically: 42 percent of all paper, 40 percent of all plastic soft drink bottles, 55 percent of all aluminum beer and soft drink cans, 57 percent of all steel packaging, and 52 percent of all major appliances are now recycled. The process of recycling is very simple and everyone needs to participate in each phase of the loop. Only 1.36 pounds of waste per person is recycled daily (Miller, 2005). The recycling process includes three steps: collecting and processing, manufacturing, and buying recycled products. Collecting recyclables varies from community to community, but there are four primary methods: curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund programs. The key to recycling is the individual. Recycling is a choice. Once cleaned and separated, the recyclables are ready to undergo the second part of the recycling loop. More and more of today's products are being manufactured with total or partial recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include newspapers and paper towels, aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers, steel cans, and plastic laundry detergent bottles. Recycled materials also are used in innovative applications such as recovered glass in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) or recovered plastic in carpeting, park benches, and pedestrian bridges (Kuitunen, 2005). Purchasing recycled products completes the recycling loop. Through "buying recycled," governments, businesses and individual consumers each play an important role in making the recycling process a success. As consumers demand more environmentally sound products, manufacturers will continue to meet that demand by producing high-quality recycled products. From government and industry to small businesses and people at home, every American can make recycling a part of their daily routine.
Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 23 percent of U.S. municipal solid waste (Miller, 2005). That's a large amount of waste sent to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead. Composting offers the obvious benefits of efficiency and creating a useful product from organic waste that would otherwise have been landfilled. These materials are put through composting which is an artificial digestion process to decompose the organic matter and kill pathogens. Composting can suppress plant diseases and pests, reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers, promote increased production of agricultural crops, facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by nourishing contaminated soils. When used effectively, composting can be not only an agricultural supplement and waste management option, but also an everyday practice used by individuals to help reduce waste.
Although source reduction, reuse, and recycling divert large portions of waste from disposal, some waste still must be placed in landfills. Landfills are carefully designed structures built into or on top of the ground in which waste is isolated from the surrounding environment. All landfills are monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations and modern facilities are located, designed and operated to be environmentally sound. Landfills are constructed with a number of safeguards, including liners, leachate collection, gas monitoring, and other systems depending on the type of waste to be managed (Merrill, 2005). Solid waste landfills must be designed to protect the environment from contaminants which may be present in the solid waste stream. Federal and state regulations govern where a landfill can be sited and how it can operate to protect human health and the environment. Disposing of waste in a landfill is the most traditional method of waste disposal and remains a common practice in most countries. Historically, landfills were often established in unused quarries, mining voids or pits. Running a landfill that mineralizes environmental problems can be a hygienic and relatively inexpensive method of disposing waste materials. Old or poorly managed landfills can create number of adverse environmental impacts however, including wind-blown litter, attraction of vermin and soluble pollutants such as leachates, which can leak into and pollute groundwater. Another product of landfills is landfill gas, mostly composed of methane and carbon dioxide, which is produced as the waste breaks down and causes significant amounts of air pollution (Merrill, 2005). Many local authorities in urban areas have found it difficult to establish new landfills due to opposition from adjacent landowners because few people want a landfill in their local neighborhood. As a result solid waste disposal in landfills has become more expensive as materials must be transported further away for disposal. Also, growing concern about the impact of excessive expansion of land filling has given rise to efforts to minimize the amount of waste sent to landfills in many areas. These efforts include taxing or levying waste sent to landfills along with increased promotion of other waste management options.
Incineration is the process of destroying waste material by burning it. Incineration is carried out both on a small scale by individuals and on a large scale by industry. It is recognized as a practical method of disposing of hazardous waste materials, such as biological medical waste. Though still widely used in many areas, especially developing countries, incineration as a waste management tool is becoming controversial for many reasons. First, it is a poor use of many waste materials because it destroys not only the raw material, but also all of the energy, water, and other natural resources used to produce it. Some energy can be reclaimed as electricity by using the combustion to create steam to drive an electrical generator, but even the best incinerator can only recover a fraction of the caloric value of fuel materials. Second, incineration creates toxic gas and ash, which can harm local populations and pollute groundwater. Modern, well-run incinerators take elaborate measures to reduce the amount of toxic products released in exhaust gas, but concern has increased in recent years about the levels of dioxins that are released when burning mixed waste (Merrill, 2005). This controversy stems from the conflict between short-term concerns and long-term ones, in this case between burning the wastes now for convenience or passing on possible environmental consequences to future generations.
In protecting future generations governments must be willing to lead the way. Public policy is the most effective way to fight waste and all forms of pollution. The primary governmental response to waste management is through the Environmental Protection Agency. This organization establishes standards and policy options for lawmakers to enact in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment. The most significant piece of environmental waste legislation passed was the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (Ursery, 2005). RCRA established a system for managing non-hazardous and hazardous solid wastes in an environmentally sound manner. Specifically, it provides for the management of hazardous wastes from the point of origin to the point of final disposal. Also the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 both expanded the scope and increased the requirements of RCRA. HSWA addressed concern about the adequacy of existing requirements to prevent uncontrolled releases of hazardous wastes from waste management units. Three of the HSWA initiatives were especially important in preventing or addressing hazardous waste releases (Ursery, 2005). First, Congress directed EPA to develop what is now known as the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) Program. Under the LDR Program the land disposal of untreated wastes is prohibited. Second, facilities were required to satisfy minimum technology requirements (i.e., liners and leachate collection systems) for surface impoundments, waste piles, land treatment units, and landfills to prevent hazardous wastes from migrating into the groundwater and to allow releases to be detected when they occur. Third, when a facility seeks a RCRA permit, the EPA was granted the authority to require corrective action for releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents from any solid waste management unit, regardless of when the waste was placed in the unit. As shown, the RCRA municipal solid waste program regulates owners and operators of municipal solid waste landfills. The regulations stipulate minimum criteria that each landfill must meet in order to continue operation. RCRA regulations also require public participation, such as public meetings, throughout the permitting process for new hazardous and solid waste treatment, storage, or disposal facilities. Public participation provides citizens with a forum to express their concerns over the construction of a new facility. The mission of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is to provide effective regulations and means to comprehensively manage solid and hazardous waste, from generation to disposal. These regulations must be adhered to by any person or organization that deals with solid and hazardous waste, including the production, transportation, storage or disposal of the waste.
In conclusion, the future of solid waste management lies not in the hands of the government, but in those of the people. It will take an absolute collapse in the World before there is a loud enough call to action to get the needed results. (Kuitunen, 2005). A great example of what can occur, but also how things can be changed happened in the city of Surat during the mid-1990s. The rapid urbanization and rise in population in Surat led to the growth of slums, increases in garbage and overflowing sewage drains. In 1994, Surat was struck by an outbreak of a disease somewhat like the plague. The disease caused panic countrywide and while the citizens blamed the municipality, the civic authorities in turn blamed the citizens for their lack of civic sense. It was concluded that the epidemic was caused by the poor condition of the city. Amazingly, within a span of 18 months the city made a complete turnaround from a dirty, garbage-strewn city to one of the cleanest cities in the country. This transformation was possible due largely to the Surat Municipal Corporation and the efforts of the community. Successful community participation played a key role in the rapid implementation of decisions made by the corporation as institutional changes were the first actions taken. The city was divided into six zones to decentralize the responsibilities for all civic functions. A commissioner was appointed for each zone with additional powers (Kuitenen, 2005). The officials responsible for solid waste management were made accountable for their work; and field visits were made mandatory for them each day. The solid waste management department and other related departments were forced to work and cooperate with one another. In addition to the administrative changes, the new laws had an important role in improving the conditions by also making the citizens aware and responsible for certain preventive actions. These are very basic changes but they are simple provisions that need to be working in all urban areas. This successful turnaround could not have been achieved without the support and cooperation of the people. If other areas of the world could motivate their citizens to take action, more environmentally unsound situations could be prevented and corrected.
Waste disposal and recycling in Nigeria
Nigeria, officially named the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa and the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the south. Since 1991, its capital has been the centrally-located city of Abuja; previously, the Nigerian government was headquartered in the coastal city Lagos.
The people of Nigeria have an extensive history, and archaeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BC. The Benue-CrossRiver area is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BC and the 2nd millennium AD. On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom, and now consists of 36 states and the federal capital territory. Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 after a sixteen-year interruption; from 1966 until 1999, Nigeria had been ruled (except the short-lived second republic, 1979-1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d'état and counter-coups during the Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria covers an area of 923,768 sq. km on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea. It has Benin on its Western side, Niger on the North, Chad to the north-east and Cameroon to the east and south-east. Its November 1991 census stood at 88,514,501 and has risen above 120 million currently. It is the most populated country in Africa. Its population is extremely diverse with well over 250 ethnic groups, some numbering fewer than 10,000 people. Ten ethnic groups including Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Ibo, Kanuri, Tiv, Edo, Nupe, Ibibio and Ijaw account for nearly 80% of the total population. Most of its population is concentrated in the southern part of the country, as well as in the area of dense settlement around Kano in the north. Between the two areas is a sparsely populated middle belt.
Prior to independence, nationalists continued their demand for the extension of franchise and the holding of direct elections. This led to the abrogation of the 1947 constitution and the introduction of a ministerial government in 1951. The federation became self-governing in 1954. Among the key instigators for independence in the country were Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Herbert Macaulay, leaders of the National Council for Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC), an eastern region dominated party, Obafemi Awolowo (leader of the western based Action Group (AG) party) and Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the conservative Northern Peoples Congress.
Conflicting demands for autonomy and central government by the various political groupings compelled the British in 1954 to establish a measure of compromise to accommodate conflicting demands. In this arrangement, there was to be a federal government, in conjunction with considerable regional autonomy. Specific powers were to be allocated to the federal government including defense, the police force, the terms of national trade, custom duties, finance and banking. Responsibility for other services in the area of health, agriculture, education and economic development was to be with the Regions. The Federation of Nigeria achieved independence on 1 October 1960.
After the exclusion from power at the federal level in the 1959 election, the AG party- with Yoruba sentiments- felt alienated and was also affected by factionalism. Awolowo thus decided to replace Akintola (the Prime Minister of the Western Region) with a protégé, provoking disorder in the Western regional assembly. After a six-month period of state of emergency, Akintola’s new party United People’s Party (UPP) controlled the government of the Western Region, in alliance with the NCNC, which had strong support in the non-Yoruba areas of the region.
The second republic spanned the period 1979-83. The five approved parties that contested the elections were the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, former vice chairman of the SMC under Gen. Gowon’s regime and leader of the AG in the 1950s, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), formed by veterans politicians like Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Makaman Bida both of whom had played prominent roles in the northern based NPC. The others were the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), the northern based opposition to the NPN under the leadership of former member of the NPN, Alhaji Aminu Kano, the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as its presidential candidate and the Greater Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP) led by Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, initial leader of NPP.
Apart from efforts to restore the country back to constitutional rule, the Babangida regime also had to deal with issues of corruption, declining economy under the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and violent clashes between Christians and Muslims on the issue of the imposition of the Sharia law. It also had to suppress the attempted overthrow of the regime.
Nigeria played and continues to play a leading role in African and more especially, West African affairs. It remains a prominent member of the ECOWAS and the AU. The Nigerian government has contributed a significant number of troops to ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), especially in the Liberian civil war in the early to mid 1990 and spearheaded the African military intervention that restored Sierra Leone to civilian rule in March 1998.
The most urgent issues in Nigeria currently are the issue of democracy and the issue of Environment protection, understood not only as an end to military rule but also as the establishment of responsive and responsible political institutions which promote a government that is accountable, prevents corruption, respect human and civil rights, and ensures popular sovereignty and proper wastage management. The issue of corruption, nevertheless, still remains one of the most difficult problems under the current government of Obasanjo.
For most Nigerians however, the pressing problems of everyday survival remain the highest immediate priority. Since the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria's economy has been in crisis despite continued expansion in oil production. The SAP has not helped the Nigerian economy much and the political instability since the early 1990s has severely impeded the ability of successive governments to implement economic policies. Without the establishment of an accountable government, the chances of addressing other pressing problems-like the deterioration of living conditions and the collapse of once outstanding educational institutions-are very minimal.
As humanity develops new technology, the magnitude and severity of waste increases. When computers were developed, it widely was believed that the need for paper would be eliminated. On the contrary this was widely proven false and we are now utilizing more paper than ever. Nigeria is not an exception as the typical Nigerian generates an average of three pounds of solid waste each day. This alone shows what a careless species we have become- using and disposing materials without even considering the damage we are causing. With half a trillion tones of waste around the world, only 25% may be reused for a second or third time and less than 5% can be renewed limitlessly. These facts are true only in developed countries. Since these traditional waste reduction methods have been proven inefficient, we must endorse new innovative technology to arrive at a solution.
Nigeria is also well endowed with abundant human as well as natural resources to address its problems. Many of its outstanding leaders have been kept in prison or in exile. The solution for addressing its problems and thus consolidate democratic governance in the federal republic lies in having a government that works on the principles of good governance and is most especially, accountable to the Nigerian people. Good governance in Nigeria is thus essential to its stability and growth and that of the economies of West African countries in the Sub-region.
With increasing societal violence as Nigeria prepares for the 2005 elections, there are concerns of the state’s ability to hang together as a single entity. While the Olusegun Obasanjo administration can be criticized for not delivering the promised economic goods, the military has been cut down to size and there are attempts at re-professionalizing the army. All in all, while the Nigerian situation gives grounds for concern, the pessimistic judgements that the state may collapse is not that obvious.
The problem of waste disposal in Nigeria have been a very disturbing problems to all Nigerian, it is imperative that access to acceptable, affordable and sustainable waste management services be provided to all Nigerians. Waste collection is a service that improves the quality of life of communities. Issues that should be considered include:
The absence of waste collection standards often results in poor quality waste collection services; Uncollected waste causes a number of environmental and health problems; It is unsightly; Accumulations of waste attract vermin such as rats and flies that act as vectors for the transmission of diseases; Decomposition of the accumulated waste gives rise to unpleasant odours and the formation of leachate that may be harmful to health and impact negatively on both surface and ground water. Uncontrolled burning of waste causes air pollution. Waste collection improves the quality of life of residents and makes the area cleaner and more acceptable as places to live and work. Waste collection activities create jobs and provide opportunities for the creation of small businesses. A cleaner environment encourages investment in the community. After knowing all this, how can I still close my eyes and let Nigerian be suffering from this major problem that we are faced with. I know and I am very convinced that it is possible to solve this problem and that’s what we are out to achieve.
The two major environmental and wastage disposal issues in Nigeria are management of solid and liquid wastes, specifically related to commercial, industrial, domestic and medical waste management. Some proposed and ongoing ‘waste to wealth’ projects are in the pipeline and offer huge investment opportunities.
Nigeria’s population is estimated to be about 150 million, and due to economic reasons, the majority of its citizens migrate to the cities in search of employment opportunities. The continuous growth in population puts enormous strain on the limited social infrastructure, which is poorly maintained resulting in huge environmental problems.
The exploration and production of oil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region has caused severe environmental pollution, especially soil degradation resulting from oil spills, non-implementation of environmental regulations, and government complicity, especially during the military era. Under the current democratic government, there has been marked improvement, which allows for increased stringent environmental regulations for the oil industry. Nonetheless, soil, air and marine life pollution resulting from gas flares remain critical issues even as gas provides huge opportunities for investment in harnessing it for commercial purposes.
Several investment opportunities abound in environmental management and include technology, equipment, services associated with soil remediation, oil spill clean up, and environmental training services. With Nigeria’s population continuing to increase, the pressure on the country’s environment appears likely to increase as well, even with the added focus on cleaning up the Niger Delta and tightening environmental laws and regulations.
Of particular concern are the environmental problems associated with massive generation of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and which defies solution to its management. Of particular urgency are the accumulated municipal wastes across several States in Nigeria, especially Lagos, Abia and Imo States, that have drawn national and international concern, and which observers believe demand an urgent and concerted solution.
In recognition of these problems and the various health hazards associated with non-management of wastes, the Government of Nigeria (GON) plans to build integrated sanitary landfills in the cities of Aba and Ibaadan. These cities will run pilot programs that are expected to be recreated in 14 other States of the Federation. Investors can avail themselves of the opportunity to export equipment and services to these States by partnering with local operators on potential projects arising from the program.
In addition, industry observers see huge potential in waste management projects in Nigeria since capacity, technical expertise and infrastructure remain an issue. Consequently, several planned and ongoing waste management and waste to wealth projects have been initiated in several States of the federation, which offer tremendous investment opportunity for exports of waste management and recycling technology and machinery, especially as successful projects can be replicated in other parts of the country.
Nigeria experiences various environmental problems arising from non-oil activity, most of which are related to massive generation of solid and liquid wastes and the absence of any program for managing these municipal solid and liquid wastes (MSW) including wastewater. Solid waste is a serious threat to urban development in Nigeria, where the inability to manage it undermines and destroys the aesthetics of the country’s cities, and is a health hazard to the citizens.
The generation of solid wastes has been increasing steadily over the past 10 years, due to rising population, urbanization and industrialization. In the early 1970s, prior to the discovery of oil in Nigeria, municipal wastes were managed as compost/manure and used for agriculture. However, with the onset of oil wealth, lifestyle patterns changed, leading to increased generation of varied components of MSW. Previously, in the pre-oil boom era, 55% of MSW was composed of food and paper waste, with a smattering of plastics (about 1%), but these components altered drastically with higher income associated with oil the boom. Currently, plastic waste constitutes about 55% of MSW, with food and paper waste making up the rest. Plastic wastes mostly comprise polyethylene shopping bags, sachet water plastic packs popularly called ‘pure water`; thin film plastic packs used as food wrappers and plastic drink bottles. A number of these plastic wastes, especially thin-film plastic bags, are not biodegradable material and as such are not suitable as compost for agriculture, thereby creating disposal problems.
However, the majority of plastic waste materials can be an excellent source of raw materials for packaging industries if appropriately recycled. Observers believe that waste management projects such as plastic recycling, would offer excellent investment opportunities, as they generate considerable profit margins. In Nigeria, MSW often contain toxic and non-biodegradable materials, which are hazardous to health. In a bid to manage these problems, the Government plans to initiate a solid waste management strategy that will include an environmental impact assessment, control wastewater discharges and enact waste management regulations.
Nigeria has no anti-littering law or any specific policy on plastic waste management, and although some municipality by-laws prohibit littering, these are not enforced and appropriate disposal infrastructures are deficient. Waste management legislation in Nigeria, where available, is scattered, scanty, obsolete and non-effective. It is grossly inefficient and non-enforceable, and does not serve as a deterrent to the indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
The absence of a coherent waste disposal policy has adversely affected economic development and human being in Nigeria. Recently, environmental problems created by inadequate infrastructure and inefficient management of municipal wastes were the focus of both federal and state governments in Nigeria. GON, through the Federal Ministry of Environment (MOE), is working with multilateral agencies, multinational companies and other stakeholders to devise a framework of cooperation to tackle these problems. An appropriate regulatory framework is also being instituted to cover all aspects of protecting the environmental from various domestic and industrial activities, and the reckless disregard for the preservation of the environment. To deter indiscriminate dumping of waste material, GON plans to enact very stringent legislation to ensure strict enforcement and adherence to environmental laws.
Hazardous and non-hazardous wastes are differentiated in waste management legislation of many countries. A range of legal definitions exist for hazardous waste, but it can generally be thought of as waste or a combination of wastes with the capacity to impair human health or the environment due to its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical or infectious characteristics when improperly used, treated, stored, transported or disposed. In many countries, hazardous (toxic) industrial wastes (both organic and inorganic), solid incinerator residues, bottom and fly ash are disposed in special hazardous waste landfills, and specialized disposal or incineration may also be practiced for healthcare wastes. In many low- to medium-income parts of the world, where uncontrolled open dumps are common, all waste tends to be dumped together, regardless of its origins or its hazardous nature. A specific characteristic of leachate from hazardous industrial waste is that it may be toxic to the bacteria naturally present and thus delay biodegradation of organic substances in leachate.
With increased urbanization and industrialization as well as recent substitution of organic materials for synthetics, management of MSW has become a nightmare in Nigeria, especially since there is a critical need for technical expertise, capital and machinery to manage waste. The best market niche for North American companies is in the provision of recycling technology, supply of machinery/equipment and waste management services training. Various waste materials such as plastics containers, polythene bags, aluminum and iron scraps, which are not recycled, can be excellent raw material for industry.
Recycled plastic materials can be used as raw materials for manufacturers of shopping bags; cosmetics containers/jars used in packaging chemicals, pharmaceuticals, creams, and beverages. There is a huge unsaturated market for plastics derivatives, which is growing at a tremendous rate. Other opportunity for investment lies in the recycling of sawmill waste, especially as sawdust is a major air and water pollutant in Nigeria, and can be converted to serve as raw material for wood board, light construction material and composite for agriculture.
As a result of health, economic and social issues consequent on the indiscriminate dumping and inadequate management of MSW, the Government of Nigeria, through its agencies and parastatals, is focusing on ways to efficiently manage and recycle MSW. Several States have initiated various waste management and waste to wealth projects to dispose the huge mounds of MSW generated in their States.
Some of these projects, though in their rudimentary stages are constrained by lack of technical expertise in waste management, equipment/machinery and the capital to execute them. For instance, with adequate funding support, investors can design, construct, install and manage a Floating Resource Recovery Plant that will convert approximately 1, 000 tonnes/day of MSW to produce 25 megawatts of electricity per hour, and 1, 350, 000 gallons of potable water per day. This type of project is very attractive to State governments, especially when executed on an equity participation model of 10 - 20 year Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis. Industry observers have identified huge investment opportunities accruing from waste management in Nigeria, especially given the huge volumes of plastics and other recyclable materials which enter the MSW chain and which are key components for recycling plants. Food and animal wastes are also huge sources of fertilizer.
Some proposed and ongoing waste to wealth projects are in the pipeline and offer huge investment opportunities, including:
- Conversion of animal and food waste to fertilizers for agriculture;
- Conversion of domestic MSW into bricks or panels used for construction;
- Conversion of plastic materials to green diesel (fuel) for motor vehicles and machinery;
- Conversion of oil for energy or industry as other by-products which are expected to produce water and energy;
- Conversion of other recyclable materials such as glass, metals;
- Conversion of wetlands, land replenishment and construction of engineered landfill sites and incinerators (both mobile and fixed) for medical waste;
- Construction of wastewater, common effluence treatment, and sewage plants; and
- Supply of compactor trucks, tippers and pay loaders, monitoring equipment and other ancillary equipment.
Waste management companies can also explore other investment opportunities and areas of partnership offered by providing technical assistance to manage the full spectrum of waste management and recycling activities.
Technology is needed in areas such as:
- Provision and rehabilitation of sewage/drainage infrastructure, procurement of requisite equipment for collection and disposal of waste, monitoring, and enforcement, training and manpower disposal;
- Technical assistance relating to advisory/consultative knowledge on waste management;
- Support for public sector participation/involvement, for instance landscape/beautification programs, waste management, collaboration with Federal, State, and Local government, as well as NGOs, CBOs, CDAs and multi donor agencies;
- Technical support to establish a framework for implementation of drainage, monitoring/control of outdoor advertising, enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, appropriate public enlightenment and environmental education;
Waste Management in Nigeria
Waste management on its own is both capital and economic intensive, which means huge capital outlay is required. Where there is availability of funds, the issue of waste management also has to be given priority. For instance, what is LagosState budget for waste management? The large chunk of waste management in Lagos gulps between 20-25% of government funds on the average. We are working within a projected population of 130 million in Nigeria. In Lagos, for instance, we are working with a projected population of between 12-18 million. We do not need anybody to tell us that waste management should occupy priority position in Nigeria, because of the multiplier effects. Apart from funding, there is another important problem -peoples attitude. These include -indiscriminate waste disposal, littering, poor hygienic practice and responsible institution arrangements. Do we have responsible institutional arrangement put in place by the government? If they are entrenched, what kind of funding do they get and what is the managerial ability of the people in charge of it? In Nigeria presently, the availability and the capacity of waste managers is lacking.
You can count on your finger tips, how many sanitation engineers we have in this country. Another pertinent problem has to do with equipment. What types of equipment are available to prosecute waste management? What are the present practices of waste management in the country? Finally, Lagos is one of the six mega cities in the world where the population is more than 10 million people. For you to move waste in Lagos from a transfer station to the dump site, you cannot make up to two trips before the end of the day. In other cities where the population is not dense, you can make 40 trips. Invariably, traffic congestion becomes a problem in waste disposal and management.
Peculiarity of Nigerians is another potent factor. We have just come from a strike. We are now looking at the backlog of wastes for over a week unattended to. A situation -where 0.115kg of waste is generated by an average individual daily, then multiplied by a population of 12-18 million speaks volume of the tonnage of wastes. When you do not clear it in a day, talk less of two, three days, then a week, it means you have to work 24 hours for several days to clear the refuse.
In the past, waste management was an appendage under the government setting. The government used to manage waste. Now there is a gradual shift from government funding with management being transferred into private hands.
We are looking at partial commercialization intended to bring the people into focus. What happens when the community is brought in is for them to contribute in one way or the other, Nigerians being used to people not paying their bills, NITEL and NEPA can tell you their experiences. The GSM operators succeeded because they are prepaid. In fact, paying a stipend of N 150 to N200 for refuse to be collected monthly is an uphill task collecting from house- holds.
Those currently operating private sector operators in waste management are mainly party stalwarts, who know little or nothing about waste management. Remember these operators came with everything initially borrowed -vehicles, money for fuel, shovels, etc. If you do not pay promptly, the job will collapse, that is what happened to the PSP: Waste management through the PSP in LagosState collapsed about a year ago. What we have presently is a time bomb waiting to explode.
There area about 35 different kinds of diseases that can be contracted through poor waste management. Currently Lagos, Kaduna and Onitsha, have witnessed an up rise in the number of cholera patients. We have an epidemic at hand. There is waste management crisis in Lagos. From what we see in Lagos if the situation persists in the next one year, do not expect the Lagos you are seeing today to be the same Lagos. It is high time they accessed the ecological fund. It is not that the government has not recognized the problem at first hand; the truth is the problem has outpaced them. It is easy for NITEL to disconnect you, NEPA can equally do so from the pole, but where does the private refuse waste manager disconnect a household?
What are the likely solutions? When we conceptualized the PSP; three sectors were involved. These include the immediate community, landlord-tenant association, the local government and the third was the private sector participant. The idea was for the community to be part and parcel of the whole idea. The problem arose when the immediate community was sidelined by party-loyalists turned PSP operators. The importance of the community landlords is that they are on ground; they know themselves within a particular neighborhood. These party loyalists came in as government contractors waiting for cheque every month.
The major contributing factor is the in- discriminate dumping of wastes into the gutters. These constitute obstacles to the free flow of water, causing the gutters to overflow, and subsequently flooding. Three years back, Clean Up Nigeria, in conjunction with UNESCO, and the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research conducted studies on the causes of flood in Lagos. It was followed by a public enlightenment on how to prevent flooding in LagosState. This year, the Lagos State Government has also joined these two organizations in a project intended to provide modern clean drainage environment in urban areas. The essence of the project is to involve the community to evolve a wise practice agreement on how they can keep the gutters free of sediments, thereby ensuring free flow of water, hence preventing flooding.
Nigeria is embarking on a massive integrated programme starting with public enlightenment programme in August in Lagos. Nigeria have recruited 1000 and trained 70% of these sanitation corps. These corps are Nigerians from all works of life that will monitor, coordinate and correct the unsanitary habits of the people; they go on the duties as they go along their daily duties.
In Conclusion, it is true that we live in a throw-away society. So, protecting the environment is essential for the quality of life of current and future generations. The challenge is to combine this with continuing economic growth in a way which is sustainable over the long term. Interest in determining costs and benefits is increasing in the environmental field. The possibilities for performing cost-benefit analyses in the waste area depend, however, on what is known about the actual emissions or discharges associated with waste disposal methods and their effects on the environment and health. On the other hand, the benefits and disadvantages of recycling are more complex. Development of a recycling program can be expensive, and recycling generates pollution. Thus, several questions arise: Is recycling really well for the environment? How does it affect the economy? Does it save or cost money? Political decisions are rarely implemented on the basis of original investigations of the costs and benefits of various measures. Environment policy should be based on the belief that high environmental standards stimulate innovation and business opportunities. Economic, social and environment policies are closely integrated.
Each ton of solid waste diverted from disposal, whether reused, recycled or composted, is one less ton of solid waste requiring disposal. The value of reusing, recycling and composting solid waste is clear when you consider the amount of disposal space required to accept that material. By implementing other waste- management strategies (as well as resource-management strategies), we reduce our dependence on incinerators and landfills. And when using recycled materials in place of trees, metal ores and minerals, there is less pressure to expand forestry and mining production.
Recycling should be more than a waste-management strategy; it is also an important strategy for reducing the environmental effects of industrial production. Supplying industry with recycled materials, instead of “virgin” resources extracted from forests and mines, is preferable because it saves energy, reduces dangerous air and water pollutants, such as greenhouse-gas emissions, and because it conserves scarce natural resources.
Saving energy is an important environmental benefit of recycling, because using energy usually requires fossil-fuel consumption and involves air-and-water pollutant emissions. The energy required manufacturing paper, plastics, glass and metal from recycled materials should be generally less than the energy required to produce them from virgin materials. Additionally, providing recycled materials to industry (including collection, processing and transportation) typically uses less energy than supplying virgin materials to industry (including extraction, refinement, transportation and processing).
A great amount of energy should used in industrial processes and in transportation should involves burning fossil fuels. Recycling will help stem global climate-change dangers by reducing the amount of energy used by industry, thus reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Recycling can significantly reduce the amount of pollution entering the air and water. There is more benefit because less fossil fuel is used and because recycling keeps materials out of landfills, where they can introduce contaminants into groundwater systems. Recycling also keeps materials out of incinerators, which can pollute the air and create ash residue. Twenty-seven different types of air and water pollutants are reduced when companies recycle instead of use virgin resources in manufacturing and disposing of the waste products. At today's prices, curbside recycling programs typically add 15 percent to the cost of waste disposal.
Critics charge that legislated mandates for the use and purchase of recycled products have wasted taxpayers' money, cost consumers more, both at the point of purchase and by limiting product options, dampened the development of resource-saving technological innovations and on occasion harmed the environment. Technology, they contend, has made it possible to use resources without danger of exhausting them. And as for the space necessary to dispose of solid waste by traditional methods, garbage generated at current rates for the next 1,000 years could be contained in a landfill just 100 yards deep and 35 miles square.
Waste prevention and source reduction essentially hold the key to solving our severe waste problems. Using methods such as eco-industrial parks, computer or nano technology to reduce waste would help eliminate the need for mountainous landfill sites and enormous pollution clean up costs. Entering the new millennium as an advanced species we must solve the problems whose answers lie before us and strive to solve the ones without answers. We have the formula to waste reduction now all we have to do is solve it.
By implementing the above discussed programs I feel that waste making it to our landfills will be greatly eliminated. This will allow waste management agencies to focus more energy and time studying other ways of controlling the negative effects of wastes that does make it to landfills. A recycle conscience society can preserve the earth for many generations to come.
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