Principles of Waste Management
There are different approaches, options and concepts in waste management. However, there are central waste management principles that are widely used by organizations and companies across the globe. These are common concept and they include waste hierarchy, lifecycle of a product, resource efficiency and polluter pays principle.
Waste hierarchy entails the 3 R’s. These are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The R’s classify strategies that are followed in waste management according to how desirable they are in minimizing waste. Waste hierarchy is a cornerstone of different strategies in waste minimization.
Waste hierarchy aims at extracting maximum benefits from materials or products and generating the least waste amount possible. A pyramid is used to represent waste management hierarchy. In the pyramid, prevention of waste actions comes first. These are measures that ensure that little or no waste is generated.
The next action helps in reducing waste generation. This entails re-using the products. This is then followed by recycling which includes composting. Material recovery and then waste-to-energy follow this step. Different process can be used to recover energy such as combustion and landfill at this stage of energy waste management. Disposal is the last action in the hierarchy. Waste is disposed through incineration or landfills with no energy being recovered.
Disposal is usually the last step and final resort for the waste that is not prevented, diverted to other uses or recovered. Waste management hierarchy represents progression of material or product via sequential stages. This hierarchy is a representation of latter parts of each product’s lifecycle.
Product lifecycle starts with the design and then it proceeds to manufacture, distribution and then use and eventually the hierarchy of waste management. One principle of waste management is to ensure that there is policy intervention, rethink the importance of a product, redesign it to reduce waste potential, and extend the use of a product. The most important thing in studying the lifecycle of a product is to optimize use of the limited resources through avoidance of unnecessary production of waste.
Resource efficiency is also another principle of waste management in efficiency is emphasized in the production and consumption of products. Resource efficiency can be enhanced through maximum use of resources and proper waste management through waste hierarchy.
Perhaps, the most common principle in the developed world is the polluter pays principle. This is a policy in which the party that causes waste is held accountable for the impact that the waste product has on the environment.
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