Sample Research Paper On History Of The Problem 3
Issues with Waste and Landfills in America
Position of the problem 3
Regulations and steps to deal with the issue of waste 4
Causes of the problem 5
Solution to Waste and Landfill Problem 6
Issues with Waste and Landfills in America
Position of the problem
Problem of waste and landfill has emerged as one of major concerns in the United States of America. American citizens produce a substantial amount of waste every day. It has become difficult to dispose the huge amount of waste in an environmental friendly, easy and economic manner. Policymakers, American environmentalists and common people are gravely anxious about the issue and are striving to find better ways to dispose of huge amount of waste (Min & Galle, 2001). This research paper proposes a discussion on the issue of waste and landfill in the United States of America.
History of the problem
American cities were located on riverbanks in the past times due to a number of reasons. People used to easily get water from rivers. Rivers also provided a good and cheaper medium of communication to people and helped them in dumping the waste in appropriate ways. Soon it was realized that “dilute and disperse” approach is creating certain problems and it is not going to provide any sustainable solution of the waste management. Searching for a concrete solution of waste management, people adopted a “concentrate and contain” approach for waste management (Tammemagi, 1999).
It was decided that everything that is thrown should be disposed safely and inexpensively at a local place. Open dumps were used initially but they started smelling and creating a variety of inconveniences. Such a situation suggested people to opt an underground and covered solution for dumping garbage and then United States witnessed landfills wherein people started dumping garbage. During initial years of industrial revolution, the amount of waste was comparatively smaller and was easily disposed. Unfortunately the amount of garbage has swelled up substantially in recent times, especially in urban areas of the United States. Expansion of industrial ventures and emergence of new cities contributed enormously in the issue of waste and landfills (Fullcycle, 2009).
A new era of waste management started in 1980’s with adopting the approach of integrated waste management (IWM). This was the time when a number of mechanisms of waste management were adopted. Guiding ideas of three R’s as recycling, reusing and resource reduction were adopted. Apart from these alternatives, incineration and composting were also adopted in order to solve the issue of waste management. Currently a number of advanced techniques have been introduced in the area of waste management but they cost American citizens billions of dollars every year (Theodore et al., 1998).
Regulations and steps to deal with the issue of waste
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looks after all the regulatory affairs of domestic, industrial and commercial waste. EPA works in the periphery of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and deals with all kinds of waste management and related regulations in the United States. EPA strives for preventing all kinds of pollutions. The agency works intensively for promoting reuse and recycling. Waste management is a combined effort of federal, state, regional and local authorities (Bell et al., 2013).
Apart from running various regulatory and awareness programs, EPA also works in collaborations with corporations, non benefits organizations, industries, educational institutes, tribes, communities and other agencies. EPA gets a lot of support from bodies like Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority that works for the betterment of environment in various ways. EPA also sets different parameters for different types of waste. The agency has issued various guidelines and disposal standards for household and industrial waste. The agency issues permissions and labelling for different types of waste and recycling material. The agency has set various technological and performance standards for waste management in order to provide a better solution to the issue under the guidelines of RCRA. EPA is further planning to launch a drive of “Pay as you throw” that is supposed to control waste production substantially (Bell et al., 2013).
Causes of the problem
There are number of causes of waste production in such a huge amount. Increasing consumerism is one of main causes of growing waste in the United States of America. People have started consuming a lot of things and none of them can be used without producing waste. Every citizen in United States produces around 4lbs waste on daily basis (Morrissey & Browne, 2004). Municipality alone generates waste of more than 155 million metric tons. Primary sources of waste are: livestock, extraction of ore minerals, crops, municipality, and industry contributing 39 percent, 38 percent, 14 percent, 5 percent and 3 percent respectively towards total waste. All these sources are producing solid waste of around 4 billion tones every year (Hws).
Growing consumption of energy, capital and natural resources creates a huge amount of waste. Using things excessively and then dumping them without a proper mechanism causes waste and shortage of space to dump waste. It is observed that number of landfills is continuously decreasing over past three decades due to closer of landfills, whereas, waste is increasing. In year 1989, number of landfill was around 7380, which reduced to 1750 in 2007. Lack of ample awareness and efforts on the part of consumers produces a huge amount of waste that filling existing landfills. Lack of appropriate policies, poor planning and lacunas in proper implementation are major causes of growing waste problems in the United States (Plant et al., 2012).
Consequences of the problem
There are a variety of adverse effects of waste on human health, environment and the economy of United States. Emission of different gases such as carbon dioxide, ozone, methane and various other gases is polluting air. Hazardous waste in form of leaches polluting water. Few drops of leaches can pollute 20, 000 to 25,000 gallons of water. Therefore, all types of pollution in water and air adversely impact health of people and causing variety of environmental problems. For example continuous exposure to ozone can permanently damage functioning of lungs. California and eastern America are facing damages in forest eco-system due to ozone.
Health problems have grown significantly in recent times due to negative effect of waste on the human health. People are suffering from different breathing and infectious diseases. Children who form 25 percent of total population constitute 40 percent of total asthma patients (EPA, 2015). People eat impure food and drinking impure water that cause a number of health problems. The nature has already suffered a lot due to growing waste on the earth and if appropriate steps are not taken, the problem may affect the whole humanity and nature in very adverse manner (Pichtel, 2014).
Solution to Waste and Landfill Problem
Waste cost heavily to our environment. The system of earth is close, hence, any resources or nutrients taken out from the system or buried in landfill are lost permanently. The problems associated with waste and landfill can be minimized by reducing consumption and effective waste management system. Government and corporate are adopting different technologies and mechanism to manage the waste such as conventional landfills, bioreactor landfills, and small scale waste management plants. However, these practices are not sufficient to deal with the waste problems. There is need to promote reuse, recycling, composting and effective waste management (Letcher and Vallero, 2011).
Reuse of Products:
Reduction in consumption and reuse of products can significantly decrease the waste. Reuse of products protects those products from going into landfill while reducing the purchase of new product at same time. Reuse also helps in saving money and resources that is spent on manufacturing of new items. People should encourage buy and sell of used products. Reuse of waste can also be performed by composting the waste. Organic waste such as kitchen and yard wastes form 30 percent of total household waste. Compositing of that waste not only protects landfill but also helps in reducing methane generation. Around 80 percent of landfills leak methane, which is more harmful than carbon dioxide. Composting of organic waste improves quality of soil, which helps in making green environment (Miller and Spoolman, 2008).
Recycling of used material is most important process that reduces waste and produce new goods for consumption. Recycling process involves resources but helps in minimizing waste. Waste, collected from different sources like household and commercial places include glass, paper, cans, plastic, and metals, are recyclable. According to some facts, around 60 percent garbage is recyclable and majority of people consider it worth, but only five to ten percent garbage get recycled (Recycling facts and figures , 2015). High cost involved in recycling process discourages recycling of waste. Government should make recycling process easy and affordable in order to encourage recycling of goods (Petts, 2001).
Waste Processing and Management:
Waste processing is another way to deal with waste and landfill problems. McDougall et al. (2008) in his book mentions that computerized life cycle inventory tools help in comparing various waste management systems. Waste management agencies can utilize life cycle inventory tools to identify most effective waste management system. Life cycle inventory (LCI) tools integrate all processes involve in waste management system staring from production & collection of garbage, thermal treatment to recycling and landfill. LCI system calculates all resources required in waste management process, emission during waste treatment and final outcome. The LCI system is very effective in treating waste in most efficient manner and makes waste management sustainable (McDougall et al., 2008).
A large number of people claim that waste is not a problem and there is no need to make unnecessary hue and cry on this issue. They claim that benefits associated with waste can provide solutions to problems created due to waste. For example, increase in consumption of goods gives employment to people who are involved in different levels of production and sell of goods. People manufacture goods because consumers are demanding. Consumers feel delighted when they get variety of products at affordable rates while manufacturers feel delighted by earning good profit (LaGrega et al., 2010).
Experts claim that minimization of waste is not a solution because it will hamper economic growth and take away employment of large number of people. Economies of various developing countries depend upon the manufacturing and service sectors. Any decrease in consumption will decrease the demand and further production of products. Therefore, it is important to adopt different ways of waste treatment and management instead reducing waste itself. According to experts, different waste treatment methods such as recycling, composting and chemical treatment of waste should be promoted to deal with the problem (O'Riordan, 2014).
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