WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY
Waste management is commonly associated with managing waste material that already exists on the planet. However, proper waste management also involves the transformation of the process of waste creation.
Waste management is a crucial aspect of sustainability that helps prevent or minimize global climate change. That’s why the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a handy four-tiered waste management hierarchy to wisely guide our waste management choices.
Let’s learn about the inverted pyramid of the waste management hierarchy.
THE FOUR STEPS OF THE WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY PYRAMID
The waste management hierarchy provides a hierarchical approach to identifying the most preferred methods and the least preferred techniques of waste generation and management.
These are the four main steps of the inverted triangle of the waste management hierarchy:
1. Source Reduction & Reuse
The most preferred method of waste management is to reduce the creation of waste materials in the first place.
Source reduction aims to minimize the unnecessary use of goods and services. It typically involves reducing input when products are manufactured.
These efforts can result in energy conservation and lower usage of virgin materials, which in turn could lead to less pollution and toxic trash. Some examples of source reduction are the use of renewable energy sources and packaging reduction.
Reuse is one more effective way to minimize the creation of waste. An example of this is the choice to use reusable packaging instead of disposable packaging.
2. Recycling / Composting
Waste is simply a resource in the wrong place. Recycling is the collection and transformation of materials to turn them into new products instead of disposing of them as waste. Materials are usually recycled off-site, but some types of waste may be recycled on-site.
EPA recommends that communities properly evaluate their recycling programs for everyday waste to prepare them to handle incident-related waste if the circumstances call for it.
3. ENERGY RECOVERY
The waste-to-energy (WTE) procedure involves capturing energy from trash. There are different WTE techniques, such as waste incineration, anaerobic, pyrolization, gasification, digestion, and landfill gas recovery.
For instance, solid waste may be incinerated to generate electricity. Old tires may also be used to produce clean energy via pyrolysis.
4. Treatment Disposal
Treatment disposal is the least preferred method in the waste hierarchy. Nevertheless, it is an important element of waste management.
The use of landfills is popular in the fulfillment of the treatment disposal process. Landfills in the U.S. are controlled by strict standards established by the EPA. They are usually regulated on a local or state level.
Practice the Steps in the Waste Management Hierarchy
Waste management requires thoughtful planning and hard work, yet it is worth making an effort to fulfill it.
Our sustainability efforts in the form of waste management can play a significant role in reducing toxic waste and preventing climate change in the long run.
Let’s practice all the four steps in the waste management hierarchy in our personal life and business life to promote a better climate and a better world.