waste management refers to the complementary use of a variety of practices
to safely and effectively handle municipal solid waste. The following is
EPA's preferred hierarchy of approaches.
- Source Reduction is the design, manufacture, purchase, or use
of materials (such as products and packaging) to reduce the amount or
toxicity of trash generated. Source reduction can help reduce waste
disposal and handling costs because it avoids the costs of recycling,
municipal composting, landfilling, and combustion. It also conserves
resources and reduces pollution.
- Recycling is the process by which materials are collected and
used as raw materials for new products. There are four steps in recycling:
collecting the recyclable components of municipal solid waste, separating
materials by type (before or after collection), processing them into
reusable forms, and purchasing and using the goods made with reprocessed
materials. Recycling prevents potentially useful materials from being
landfilled or combusted, thus preserving our capacity for disposal.
Recycling often saves energy and natural resources. Composting,
a form of recycling, can play a key role in diverting organic wastes
from disposal facilities.
- Waste Combustion and Landfilling play a key role in managing
waste that cannot be reduced or recycled. Combustion in specially designed
facilities reduces the bulk of waste and provides the added benefit
of energy recovery. Source reduction and recycling can remove items
from the waste stream that may be difficult to burn, cause potentially
harmful emissions, or make ash management problematic. Landfilling is
- and will continue to be - a major component of waste management. The
portion of waste requiring incineration or land disposal can be significantly
reduced by examining individual contributions to garbage and by promoting
the wise use and reuse of resources.