env100 note 55.docx

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28 Mar 2012
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ENV100 Lecture Notes Mar 16, 2012
Managing Our Waste
Readings: Chapter 18
This lecture will help you understand:
The types of waste we generate
Approaches to managing waste
The scale of the waste dilemma
Conventional waste disposal methods
Approaches for reducing waste
Industrial solid waste management
Issues in managing hazardous waste
The Beare Road landfill: making good use of old garbage
1968 - 1983: The Beare Road pit received municipal garbage from Toronto
1983: landscape restoration undertaken
1996: began to collect the methane-rich gas being generated by the decomposting
garbage (LFGTE, landfill gas-to-electricity)
o “We can’t have an economy that uses our air, water, and soil as a garbage can.”
–David Suzuki“
o Garbage isn’t generic gunk. It’s elements of our behavior all thrown together.” –
William Rathje, Garbage Archaeologist
Waste management is changing in the “throwaway age”
Changes in consumption patterns
o Consumption increases with income and with urbanization
Changes in quantity and types of waste
o Quantity of waste increases with consumption
o Emerging categories of waste: hazardous, nuclear, and military waste, and now
e-waste
Waste generation is rising in all nations
Waste generation increases with income
Waste in Canada has increased with growth in population and GDP
The nature of materials and packaging has changed substantially from 100 years ago
o More anthropogenic, hazardous, and non-biodegradable materials
Waste management is changing in the “throwaway age”
Changes in packaging
o Materials have changed
Historical: cloth, natural fibre, plant material, wood
Modern: wood, cardboard, glass, plastic
o Modern packaging materials are durable and degrade much more slowly
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Plastic bags: 1 second to produce 20 minutes in use 400600 years to
break down
o Amount of packaging has increased dramatically
It is challenging to classify waste
Source/origin:
o What activity generated it?
Type/composition:
o What is it made of?
Behaviour/toxicity:
o How dangerous is it for human health and biosphere?
Management/treatment:
o How must it be handled? Who is in charge?
The source and type of waste determine how it must be managed
Municipal solid waste: non-liquid waste from homes, institutions, and small businesses
Industrial solid waste: from production of consumer goods, mining, agriculture, and
petroleum extraction and refining
Hazardous waste: solid or liquid waste that is toxic, chemically reactive, infectious,
flammable, corrosive, or radioactive
Sewage and Wastewater: water used in household, business, or industry; polluted
runoff from streets and storm drains
Waste disposal is regulated by three levels of government
Municipal:
o Collection, diversion, and disposal of solid waste
o Drop-off facilities for hazardous waste
Provincial and territorial:
o Movement of waste materials within the jurisdiction
o Licensing of treatment facilities
o Legislation and guidelines for landfill sites
Federal government:
o International agreements about waste
o Transboundary movements of waste materials
We have several aims in managing waste
Minimize the amount of waste we generate (source reduction)
Recover materials from the waste stream
Recycle the recovered materials
Dispose of waste safely and effectively
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