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... [continues]
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