Waste Management

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Waste Management

...A large concentration of people in urban areas and more developed societies have increased the amount of waste produced...

Rules of Sustainability: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle

Waste Management Process:

  • Reduce - lowering the amount of waste produced
  • Reuse - using materials repeatedly
  • Recycle - Using materials to make new products
  • Recover - recovering energy from waste
  • Landfill - safe disposal of waste to landfill

UK Waste:

  • 600million tonnes of products/materials enter the economy per year but only 19% is recycled
  • £7billion in precious metals in electronic waste -> 25% could be reused = £200million per year
  • 7 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away each year
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A Political and Environmental Issue

EU and UK governments have targets for local authorities to reduce landfill use and increase recycling -> exceeding the landfill quota = a fine

The government has suggested that local authorities charge households  that produce more waste than average and rewarding those producing less -> a campagin caused them to back down on the proposal

Disposal:- hygenic, inexpensive, placed in disused quarries or mine. It causes groundwater pollution, wind blown litter and vermin

Incineration:- disposes of hazardous waste and generates heat, steam and or electricty. It also emits gaseous pollutants

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Methods of Recycling

  • Physical Reprocessing - everday waste materials are collected and sorted so that the raw materials can be reprocessed into new materials. It is separated into special bins and collection vehicles or sorted directly from mixed waste streams
  • Biological Reprocessing - organic material is recycled as mulch/compost for agriculture and landscaping. Waste gas can be captured and used for generating electricity on a domestic and industrial scale.
  • Energy Recovery - using waste as a direct combustion fuel or indirectly by processing them into another fuel

Waste Reduction Methods:

  • reusing second-hand products
  • repairing broken items
  • designing products to be refillable/reusable
  • encouraging consumers to avoid disposable products
  • designing products that use less material to achieve the same purpose
  • education
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Problems with Recycling

  • High start-up cost for low market value materials
  • Householders aer unwilling to sort recyclables
  • Hidden Costs -> transport from collection to processing hot water or cleaning products for processing the material

Problems with Landfill Sites

  • unsightly
  • methane produced
  • threat of contamination of water from toxic chemicals
  • long degradation period -> nappies take 500 years
  • running out of space
  • increasingly expensive
  • charging for extra disposal causes fly tipping/household incineration
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