A national overview of Solid Waste Management

Solid Waste Management is a problem every city has to solve. In general, a cities' ability to provide adequate Waste Management Services, showcases how likely they're to excel in more complex areas such as health, education and transportation.

In this article, we'll be looking at Solid Waste Management issues related to the England.

The benefits of effective management waste, outweighs the negative impact that improper waste management has on health, environment, economy and quality of living for local residents.

Based on figure [1] 83% of the population in England lives in Urban areas. Solid waste generation is one of the side effects of urbanization, this is because people who live in cities are more likely to be richer, buy more store-bought and use more online e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay.

They're also more likely to do additional international businesses utilizing services such as Alibaba and AliExpress, which all results in more packaging. Finally, people who live in urban areas are also less likely to follow the 3Rs — Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Organic parts of solid waste and all the resources from vehicles to heavy machinery which is required to collect and dispose of the waste, contribute to greenhouse gas emission. Finding an adequate solution to offset these costs, is key.

One method of offsetting greenhouse gas emission, in-regards to the waste disposal process, is the utilization of machinery which can be powered with alternative plant-based fuel mechanisms. Moving away from petrochemical to biochemical is a must!

The need for a renewable fuel mechanisms, whether it be through plant-based sources or electric, which has lower carbon missions compared to fossil fuels is critical, at least if we want to neutralize greenhouse gas emission during the waste disposal process.

Furthermore, the use of engineered PET depolymerase (enzymes which has been specifically designed to eat plastics), within landfills, to increase the rate of decomposition (which directly increases the whole recycling process), should be considered.

The use of bacteria enzymes to decompose plastic during the disposal process should be mixed with bio-degradable materials and products which are specifically designed with biodegradability in-mind. This ensures that wherever the final product ends-up, the natural speed of recycling is increased.

As the rate of urbanisation and income levels continue to increase the more solid waste particles are generated by individuals. One interesting method which the government has used to encourage behavioural changes, is through the use of "the plastic carrier bag tax"

The idea that, charging a consumer separately for plastic bags during supermarket checkouts and showing them exactly how much £/bag, is one of the most effective tactics which has been used to alter psychological perception of plastic bags. Plastic carrier bag sales dropped by more than 95% in Engand, during the introduction of a "5p" charge on plastic bags.

By introducing a charge for plastic bags, does this indirectly lead to consumer buying less single use plastic bags?

To answer this question or to get as close to the answer as possible, we enlisted the help of Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs and single-use carrier bag data released for the periods of 2019 to 2020 this allowed us to create the chart above to compare consumer shopping habits over the years.

Between 2016 and 2017 and 2019 to 2020, the number of bags sold by the main retailers, per person of the population dropped from 24 to 4, 83.3% drop in sales. This could mean anything, but the things we do know is that the consumer are more conscious before spending their money on single-use bags.

Extraction landfill gas

Landfill methane capture

The use of landfill gas extraction techniques during anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions within landfills is very important. This is mainly because landfills mainly produces Methane and C02 (and other gases such as Ammonia, Sulphides and Hydrogen in low quantities).

Escaped Methane from landfill sites has a negative impact on the environment because on an atmospheric level, these gases prevent heat from escaping and dispersing effectively, which causes global warming.

However, by capturing these gases, they could be used as an alternative method of energy generation using human generated waste!

Furthermore, it would also increase quality of living within local communities, since gases such as Ammonia and Sulphides are one of the leading causes of de-satisfaction because of the aggressive odours which are generated.


[1] Rural population and migration statistics used in graph