Today, countries worldwide face a waste management crisis ― an estimated 12.3 billion tons of municipal solid waste were collected worldwide in 2011 ― the increasing quantity and complexity of waste associated with economic growth, industrialization, and urbanization poses serious problems, especially for developing countries. The rate of municipal solid waste generation is faster than that of urban population growth due to increasing consumption ― the demand for goods and services is driving production — especially products that are packaged and have short life-spans, resulting in waste and even more consumption. While product consumption benefits some businesses, the paradigm of boundless consumption as we are currently experiencing it, needs to change, since the waste produced is growing world problem with dramatic social and environmental impacts.
Waste disposal can have serious environmental impacts ― landfills are reaching capacity, consuming dwindling land space, and cause air, water and soil pollution including the emission of about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while incineration results in emissions of dangerous air pollutants. Improper, ineffective, and inefficient waste management negatively impacts health and the environment — resulting in pollution of the air, land and water, emission of greenhouse gases and toxic materials, and the loss of precious materials and resources. Waste streams from electronic equipment or e-waste, which contain hazardous materials, pose one of the biggest management challenges in both developed and developing countries. Such mixed municipal solid wastes, as well as hazardous wastes and some industrial wastes can impose serious health and ecological risks if uncollected or dumped in uncontrolled and unsecured landfill sites.
Solid waste management practices include waste prevention and re-use, waste collection, transport, and sorting, waste recycling and composting, waste treatment by incineration or chemical and biological processes, energy recovery, and waste disposal in landfills.
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