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Solid Wastes

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Solid Wastes - Lesson Summary

Solid wastes such as paper, plastic, glass, metal, rubber, leather, textile and leftover food are dumped in garbage bins. The wastes generated in offices, schools and hospitals are called municipal solid waste.

This waste is collected by the municipality and ultimately dumped far away from the city. For years, municipal solid wastes have been dumped in open lands where they were burnt to reduce the volume, but the wastes were not completely burnt and became a breeding ground for rats and flies. Later, it was replaced by sanitary landfills in which wastes were compacted and dumped in a trench. Due to the increasing amount of solid wastes, the landfills filled up faster and even caused the leaching of harmful chemicals from these landfills that contaminated the ground water.

The best way to get rid of the wastes is to segregate them into recyclable, biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Recyclable wastes such as glass bottles, some types of plastics and paper can be given to rag-pickers while biodegradable wastes such as vegetable, fruit and food wastes can be put into compositing pits. The remaining non-biodegradable wastes such as plastic, thermocol, chemicals and paints need to be carefully handled. In fact, plastic is one of the main components of municipal solid waste. State governments across the country have taken steps to reduce the use of plastic bags and have encouraged the use of eco-friendly bags.
The recycled plastic is developed into polyblend, which is mixed with bitumen and used for construction of roads. Another hazardous waste is medical waste disposed by hospitals that consists of harmful materials such as disposable syringes, surgical instruments, tubes, bottles, disinfectants and blood-soaked cotton. The Biomedical Waste Management Rules were issued under the Environment Protection Act in 1998 for disposal of medical waste, under which medical incinerators are used in hospitals to burn them.
Electronic waste, also called e-waste includes irreparable computers and other electronic goods. Cheap labourers manually handle the e-waste and are exposed to toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Such toxic substances pose a threat to human health and the environment, so recycling is the only solution for treating e-waste. 


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