Introduction Solid Waste Management
Introduction to part 1 of the course on Solid Waste
The year 411
You live with your tribe at the edge of the forest, near a river. The river is the source of water for your village. Many of your neighbors are involved in fishing to earn a living for themselves and the needed proteins for the community. Other tribe members are growing grains in a few of the open spots in the forest. Again others are into hunting, tapping trees for rubber or picking wild fruits. There are two tribesmen into making stone products for cooking and hunting. Specifically their arrow tips are very popular.
Together, the river and the forest provide all the tribe needs: the food, materials for making the huts, clothing and tools.
What the tribe can’t produce from local sources can sometimes be bought from travelling salesmen. One of those ever came with iron tools for hunting and working the land.
The year 2011
You live in the modern capital city of your country. You are an administrative officer with one of the larger lumber companies, involved in the licencing of subcontractors. You are quite well-off with the money you are making and you live accordingly.
You have your own rental appartment with the comforts of modern life: microwave, dish washer, fridge-freezer combination. Your bathroom is comfortable and every now and then you treat yourself in the built-in Jacusi while zipping a wine. Your appartment is some 13 km away from your office, a distance you cover usually by public transport even though you have a small suburban sedan in your private garage. You make frequently use of take-away restaurants in order to have your dinner while watching tv or listening a CD. On Friday night you usually go shopping in the local supermarket, filling your cart with the goodies that life allows you to enjoy. Once a year you take a lazy holiday at some remote resort.
You are in the lucky circumstances that you don’t have to bother about the basics of life: water, electricity and waste charges are included in the rent and the you have never bothered as to where your dirty water and garbage end up when sucked out of your appartment.
It may be clear that the transition from an “indiginous” life style to life in the society of the twentieth century was accompanied by a rapidly increasing population and a rapidly growing per capity waste generation. This waste stemms
Ø from what we as individuals buy as products but dump as soon as we are at home (e.g. packaging materials),
Ø from what we don’t want to use any longer (discarded products),
Ø from the industrial activities required to produce the products we buy,
Ø from the transport of the raw materials and the products to where these are needed,
At the end we are stuck with mountains of waste: used but discarded products, remains of inefficient industrial processes, left-overs from unused resources, organics, plastics, papers, metals, etc. At best, the urban poor scratch a living from these mountains and, as such, manage to let society recycle at least some of those materials. But undoubtedly, these mountains prove unambiguously that our societies are able to produce but does not have a functioning system to adequately deal with the consequences of this desire to produce. As a result, most countries in development are faced with growing mountains of waste, mountains for which, increasinly, there is no space available given the fact that the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome is universal. This increasingly poses space availability problems in additional environmental degradation and financial losses due to lost resources. If so, Solid Waste Management with focus on
Ø environmentally least impacting,
Ø socially acceptable,
Ø economically/financial feasible, and
Ø public health acceptable
approaches need to be conceived, designed, implemented and operated.
In practical terms, this means the the SWM course should allow finding solutions for the existing mountains of waste and give practical guidance for the reduction of the waste flow ending up in final disposals. The key to both is found if solid waste can be viewed as a resource capable of returning materials and/or energy with a clear monetary value. At that moment SWM becomes a viable branch of industry.
The purpose of the course on Solid Waste Management is to provide students at the Undergraduate level with both a theoretical as well as practical insight into the theories needed to understand and the practicalities of managing solid waste.
The focus of the course on Solid Waste Management is largely on municipal solid waste although various types of agricultural and industrial wastes are also touched upon. Under management of solid waste is understood all activities related to the
Ø generation of solid waste at the domestic, institutional and industrial level, including steps for the minimization of the generation and/or the recycling at the domestic level,
Ø collection of the waste,
Ø processing of the waste so as to separate useful ingredients thereof for reuse, recycling or recuperation and the treatment thereof for minimizing environmental impacts of subsequent steps,
Ø safe disposal of the unusable rest fraction, and
Ø monitoring of the safely disposed waste.
The main objective of the course is to generate awareness on the topic of Solid Waste Management in countries in development, particularly Indonesia. The specific objectives of the course are:
Ø to display the broad environmental situation at the global, the regional and the local level and to identify how environmental impacts can be related to present solid waste practices,
Ø to acquaint the reader with the broad field of Solid Waste Management by identifying and introducing the various elements,
Ø to present both the theoretical background as well as, where needed, the practical aspects of processes and principles.
The course on Solid Waste Management consists of two parts:
Then, after an opportunity for a mid-term examination, part 1 continues with more practical issues of waste characterization, waste collection and waste processing. In the context of global warming, chapter 11a is devoted to methane capturing followed by a chapter 11b on waste management in Indonesia.
The last 3 chapters (13, 14 & 15) of part 1 focus on institutional/legal, financial/economical and stakeholder, social/cultural and public health aspects, respectively. The entire study material of part 1 is integrated in groupwork exercises (ch.14) and case studies (ch.16).
The course materials are prepared with a certain study approach in mind.
Ø All students new in the field of Solid Waste Management should start with Part 1 as this provides the broader background thinking, gives an overview of the elements of the waste generation and processing chain, and highlights the practical, low-technical aspects of Solid Waste Management.
Ø Students with a clear engineering interest, who completed the materials in Part 1, are encouraged to further specialize in the technical details of SWM provided in Part 2. These chapters are required material for landfill planners, designers and construction engineers.
Ø Teachers of the subject matter are invited to present the provided materials “as-practical-as-possible”. Examples, exercises, case studies, laboratory work, field trips with actual field measurements, internet research are all options to make the subject mattter alife and to stimulate the students to process and integrate the SWM-information. Teachers are encouraged to send their contributions and critical comments as to any aspect of the materials to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The course materials are available both in the form of text (Word) as well as in the form of presentations (Powerpoint).