Garbage Problems and a Possible Solution

Garbage Problems and a Possible Solution

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One possible solution to the large amount of man-made waste is landfills. The sanitary landfill is a method of final disposal, which confines the waste in an area as narrow as possible, covers it with layers of earth and compacts it daily to drastically and significantly reduce its volume.

The forms of life characteristic of our time, give rise to the production and accumulation of garbage. Large quantity of products for daily use, reaches our homes, schools or workplaces. There is a wide variety of these products, among which we can find cans, packaging, wrappers, bottles, glass objects, among many other things.

The increase in population and the exaggerated consumption of unnecessary objects discarded almost always in a short period of time, leads to the increasing demand for consumer goods, many of which are presented wrapped in paper, plastic or cardboard; Added to this is the abundant propaganda and advertising printed on paper and distributed on public roads and which, almost always, is thrown into the street. Commerce, schools and other institutions throw away huge amounts of paper every day. The proportion of the different materials varies but nowadays paper and plastics always predominate.

There are several ideas of what the concept of garbage means, but most of them agree that it is all mixed waste that is produced as a result of human activities, be it domestic, industrial, commercial or service. We also consider as garbage the objects that we dispose of because they ceased to be useful to us, such as: recorders, cameras, blenders, and much more that, in fact, are not garbage, because they could be used again, in whole or in part.

Day by day, the generation of waste increases, whether gaseous, solid or liquid. Soil contamination can be an irreversible process and also has the disadvantage of facilitating the introduction of toxins into the food chain.

Solid waste management is summarized in a cycle that begins with its generation and temporary accumulation, continuing with its collection, transportation and transfer and ends with its final accumulation. It is from this accumulation that the real ecological problems begin, since the garbage dumps become permanent sources of contamination.

There are several forms of accumulation, one of them is that of open dumps. When garbage is dumped in the open, there are disease risks for the population as vectors such as mice, flies and other types of pests that transmit diseases begin to be generated. In other words, one of the negative consequences of this practice has to do with the health of the population.

The garbage dumps cause environmental problems that affect the soil, water and air: the original vegetation layer in the area disappears, there is soil erosion, they pollute the atmosphere with inert materials and microorganisms. Over time, some part of them will decompose and give rise to new chemical components that will cause contamination of the environment, which will cause the soil to lose many of its original properties.

Among the phenomena that cause environmental problems is the mixture of industrial waste with garbage in general., Including the owners of small workshops, they deliver their waste to municipal collection services, where they are mixed without any precaution with household garbage and are transported to open dumps. Industry, on the other hand, uses a large amount of energy and water, its processes are linear and produce a lot of waste, for example, a refrigerator.

Any waste that is flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, radioactive, infectious, or mutagenic is considered hazardous. There are several ways to reduce the impact that all these phenomena have. Clean technologies, analogous to those of natural products, should be implemented that allow to continue producing the necessary satisfactions for modern man, but with a low environmental cost.

One possible solution is landfills. This system is not an open-air garbage dump, nor is it a waste burial, much less a controlled incineration. The sanitary landfill is a method of final disposal, which confines the waste in an area as narrow as possible, covers it with layers of earth and compacts it daily to drastically and significantly reduce its volume. The Center for Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Sciences (Cepis) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) declare it as the final disposal method par excellence, one that does not represent any risk to the health of the population. The only admissible one, since it minimizes pollution and the negative impact on the environment.

This method consists of transporting the waste to an area of ​​clay and flooded land and covering it with a layer of earth. The earth needs to be clayey, because if the earth were permeable it would not prevent the drainage of liquids - such as rain - dragging harmful substances towards the water table. In this way, part of the drinking water would be contaminated - groundwater represents more than half -, and it would harm us to drink it. In a clayey mantle, it takes 20 years for water to pass through 1 m. of clay. Perhaps the tranquility for our health and the care of the environment, that this produces us is a little irresponsible; as we leave a future problem to the next generation. If there is no clay, the government must have layers of polyethylene as insulation, before placing the waste.

As soon as the earth is located, it is covered with 15 cm. of land, without which millions of cockroaches would penetrate the waste. In this way, only the necessary bacteria would break them down.

During the putrefaction process, the temperature reaches up to 800c and large proportions of methane gas are produced, which tends to burn. For this reason, it is very important that tubes are located inside the Earth so that this gas is released and does not explode at those temperatures. Another mandatory control is for the water of the underground layers. Gas can be used both as biogas, as fuel for transportation and as household gas.

The waste retains approximately 250 liters of water per m2. The terrain drops 20% as the waste settles and decomposes. Once the waste has filled the floodable quota - the normal is 6 m - you must wait 10 years to afforest the area and to be able to build you have to wait 20 years.

The processes must be optimized, and the volumes generated of waste, recycling, the reuse of waste and the exchange of waste between factories must be minimized. Undoubtedly, maintaining an environment that allows the population to provide a decent and healthy quality of life has a high cost, but the expense that this entails will always be less than the cost of endangering the environment and health of the community. population.

Differences Between an Open Pit Trash and a Sanitary Landfill

Open Pit TrashLandfill
There is no planning prior to the use of the final disposal site.It is an engineering project based on current Argentine official standards on the matter.
There are no control worksControl works for the leachate collection system: collector drains, receiver sump, aeration pit and pumping system.
Biogas collection system: biogas absorption wells.
Perimeter drains.
Perimeter fencing.
Damping barrier.
Poor or no equipment.Specialized equipment.
Access road.
Control booth.
Weighing scale.
Crawler loaders.
Possible contamination of the water table by leachateSecurity in the quality of the water table
Proliferation of harmful fauna (rats, flies, etc.)No harmful fauna
Permanent firesFire is lacking

By Cristian Frers.
Senior Technician in Environmental Management.
Superior Technician in Social Communication.
Tte. Gral. Juan D. Peron 2049 7th. 55
(C1040AAE) Autonomous City of Buenos Aires

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