Municipal solid waste is the garbage generated by homes, businesses, and institutions. Other kinds of solid wastes include sludge from wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants, and air pollution control facilities. Additional discarded materials includes solid, liquid, semisolid, or containerized gaseous materials from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations, and community activities.
When solid waste does not pose a threat to the environment or human health, it is classified as nonhazardous waste.
Although an unknown quantity of solid waste is managed by individuals and organizations, a recent Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) study listed the amount of solid waste managed off-site in the United States at 544.7 million tons (reported by waste facilities). Of these 544.7 million tons of solid wastes, 63% was in municipal solid waste landfills, 21% in material recycling facilities, 6% in incinerators, 5% in construction and demolition landfills, and 5% in compost facilities. Private companies own 5% of the off-site facilities that manage solid waste and the public sector owns 47%. Fig. 12-1 shows a few of the nonhazardous wastes treated at waste disposal facilities.
Aqueous wastes Construction waste Cooling waters Debris Epoxies Filter cake
Latex Oil wastes Paints Polymer solids Rags and pads
Resins Rubber products Shampoo Soaps Spill residues Waste carbon Waste powders
Fig. 12-1 There are a number of wastes that are considered to be nonhazardous waste.
Responsible waste processing facilities handle nonhazardous waste as carefully as hazardous waste. Nonhazardous waste arrives at facilities in a variety of containers including fiber and plastic drums, original packaging, bags, and shrink-wrapped or steel-strapped pallets, along with steel drums, cubic-yard boxes, railcars, tank trucks, roll-off boxes, and dump trailers.
Disposal methods depend on the waste type, but commonly include incineration, sludge-dewatering, wastewater treatment, waste-to-energy, secure landfill, and others.
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