Solid Waste Management and Its Process

Solid Waste Management

Solid waste management is associated with the control of waste generation, its storage and collection, transfer and transport, processing and disposal in a manner that is in accordance with the best principles of public health, economics, engineering, conservation, aesthetics, public attitude and other environmental considerations. The following points are explained briefly below.

solid waste management, garbage, landfill

Waste generation :

Wastes are generated at the start of any process, and thereafter, at every stage as raw materials are converted into goods for consumption. The source of waste generation determines quantity, composition and waste characteristics. For example, wastes are generated from households, commercial areas, industries, institutions, street cleaning and other services. The most important aspect of this part of the Solid waste management system is the identification of waste.

Waste Storage :

Storage is a key functional element because collection of wastes never takes place at the source or at the time of their generation. The heterogeneous wastes generated in residential areas must be removed within 8 days due to shortage of storage space and presence or biodegradable material. Onsite storage is of primary importance due to aesthetic consideration, public health and economics involved. Some of the option for storage are plastic containers, conventional dustbins (of households), used oil drums, large storage bins (for institutions and commercial areas or servicing depots), etc. Obviously, these vary greatly in size, form and material.

Waste Collection :

This includes gathering of wastes and hauling them to the location, where the collection vehicle is emptied, which may be transfer station (i.e, intermediate station where wastes from smaller vehicles are transferred to larger ones and also segregated), a processing plant or a disposal site. Collection depends on the number of containers, frequency of collection, types of collection services and routes. Typically, collection is provided under various management arrangements, ranging from municipal services to franchised services, and under various forms of contracts.

Transfer and Transport :

This functional element involves :

  • The transfer of wastes from smaller collection vehicles, where necessary to overcome the problem of narrow access lanes, to larger ones at transfer stations.
  • The subsequent transport of the wastes, usually over long distances, to disposal sites.
  • The factors that Contribute to the designing of a transfer station include the type of transfer operation, capacity, equipment, accessories and environmental requirements.


Processing is required to alter the physical and chemical characteristics of wastes for energy and resource recovery and recycling. The important processing techniques include compaction, incineration and composting, thermal volume reduction, and manual separation of waste components.

Recovery and Recycling:

This includes various techniques, equipment and facilities used to improve both the efficiency of disposal system and recovery of usable material and energy. Recovery involves the separation of valuable resources from the mixed solid wastes, delivered at transfer stations or processing plants. It also involves size reduction and density separation by air classifier, magnetic device for iron and screens for glass. The selection of any recovery process is a function of economics, i.e costs of separation versus the recovered material products. Certain recovered materials like glass, plastics, paper, etc, can be recycled as they have economic value.

Waste disposal :

Disposal is the ultimate fate of all solid wastes, whether it may be residential wastes, semi-solid wastes from municipal and industrial treatment plants, incinerator or other substances that have no further use to the society. Thus, land use planning becomes a primary determinant in the selection, design and operation of landfill. A modern sanitary landfill is a method of disposing solid waste without creating a nuisance and hazard to public health. Generally, engineering principles are followed to confine the wastes to the smallest possible area, reduce them to the lowest particle volume by compaction at the site and cover them after each days operation to reduce exposure to vermin. One of the most important functional elements of solid waste management, therefore relates to the final use of reclaimed land. Being generic in its form, this system is applicable to all regions, irrespective of their relative state of development.

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