CHAPTER 18
MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE: DISPOSAL AND RECOVERY

I. History of Solid Waste

A. Pre-World War II

1. Consumption Patterns - little trash generated
a. Food
b. Transportation
c. Clothing
d. Plastics (rayon)

2. Recycling and Reuse Patterns
a. Industry
- Why throw away something that can be incorporated into the product?
- Consumer goods manufactured for repair not disposal
b. Consumers
- Rags purchased from consumer to make paper
- Reuse common: remake clothes, make quilts, rag rugs

3. Garbage Disposal Options
a. Open dumps
b. Burning trash in barrels
c. Private land disposal

B. World War II

1. Recycling was a patriotic duty
2. Plastics were developed and use exploded

C. Post-World War II

1. Consumption Patterns
a. Current quantity of garbage generated per person is over 4 lbs per day but it
is beginning to drop
b. Composition of garbage
c. Types of waste change since WWII

2. Recycling and Reuse Patterns

3. Current Disposal Options
a. Landfill
b. Incineration
Fig. 19.2 This figure shows the composition of municipal solid waste in 1996 in the United States. (Data from EPA, Office of Solid Waste, "Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States," 1997 edition.)
Fig. 19.3 This figure shows the disposal of solid waste to landfills, combustion and recycling, 1996 (Data from EPA, Office of Solid Waste, "Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States," 1997 edition.).
II. Disposal Options

A. Landfills

1. Advantages
a. Handles a large volume
b. Eliminated air pollution from burning trash

2. Disadvantages
a. Leachate generation and surface and ground water contamination
b. Methane production
c. Incomplete combustion
d. Settling
e. Difficult to site

3. Reducing Landfill Problems
a. Speed decomposition by adding water
- improves economic viability of methane recovery systems
- speeds settling and increases the quantity of waste that can be buried at
the site
- eases the handling of leachate by reducing the length of time needed for
recovery
- leachate can be used to increase moisture for decomposition
b. Site landfills away from groundwater and create liners and leachate recovery
systems
Fig. 19.5 The landfill is sited on a location above the water table. The bottom is sealed, overlaid by a layer to drain the leachate. Refuse is layered and covered with soil, so that the completed fill sheds water. Wells are used to monitor the groundwater.
Fig. 19.6 This figure shows the net import and export of municipal solid waste, by state in 1992.
C. Waste to Energy (WTE) Facilities

1. Advantages
a. Garbage weight and volume reduced
b. Toxic chemicals are concentrated and may beeasier to handle
c. No changes need in collection procedures or people's habits
d. Generates electricity

2. Disadvantages
a. Air pollution
b. Ash is difficult to handle and maybe considered hazardous, thus requiring
special disposal
c. Expensive and difficult to site
d. Demands a large quantity of waste to be generated
e. Directly competes with recyclables that are combustible (paper)
Fig. 19.7 Schematic flow for the separation of materials and combustion in a typical modern waste-to-energy combustion facility.
III. Solutions

A. Reducing Waste

1. Benefits
a. Overall energy use is reduced
b. Overall resource use is reduced
2. Disadvantages
a. Requires changes in human behavior

B. Recycling Wastes

1. Benefits
a. Energy Conservation
b. Resource Conservation
2. Disadvantages
a. Requires a change in human behavior
b. Can be confusing to the consumer
c. Is not the most efficient way to reduce resource and energy waste
3. Impediments
a. Lack of sorting standards
b. Tax incentives to use raw rather than recycled materials
c. Market: people have to buy materials made from recycled goods
d. External costs not included in market price of goods made from raw materials
whereas some external costs have been included in goods made from recycled
products resulting in higher consumer costs.

C. Composting

1. Easy to do in backyards and municipalities are beginning to do.
2. Benefits
a. Saves landfill space
b. Creates great fertilizer
3. Disadvantages
a. Must separate yard wastes from other wastes
b. Requires a change in human behavior

IV. Public Policy

A. LULU, NIMBY, and NIMTOO
B. Siting of Facilities in Low Income and/or Minority Neighborhoods (Environmental
Racism)
C. Integrating Waste Management