Disposing of  waste safely depends on the nature and composition of the waste. Disposal methods often determine the type of disposal that is most environmentally and ecologically sound. Generally, wastewater is treated and then recycled for potable uses in wastewater treatment facilities. Flocculants and other heavier-than-water particulates are used to filter the water initially. There are several stages of wastewater treatment until the final product is safe for reuse.

How to discard waste safely

Waste Disposal Process

Anything that can not be reused, recycled or placed in the compost pile must be disposed of safely. Some people think that the ideal is to burn the garbage, while others prefer to bury it to avoid the smoke that produces its burning. But the fact is that both methods present problems.

In places where paper and cardboard can not be reused, recycled or thrown into a compost pile, they can be chopped and used as fuel for cooking or heating. Plastic and rubber, on the other hand, when burned even in small quantities produce toxic chemicals such as dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that cause many health problems, including cancer and infertility

Waste that can not be handled otherwise can be buried in small pits or landfills. You can create a small pit of debris by simply digging a hole in a place away from water sources; put the garbage in the hole and then cover it with dirt. When garbage is buried with toxic chemicals, they can seep into the ground and contaminate drinking water. If there is no other safe way to remove toxic waste (for example, by returning it to the manufacturers or treating it in such a way that it loses its toxicity), it is best to place it in a sanitary landfill equipped with a safety coating.

Types of Waste

Some Harmful Wastes

Solid Waste

Most households are responsible for tons of solid waste that is disposed of in landfills or recycled. Some household solid waste is comprised of remnants from foodstuffs. Recyclable household items like aluminum cans, newspapers, plastics and glass are sorted before they are recycled.

Industrial solid waste requires a completely different aspect than household solid waste and therefore, disposal is more complex. Toxic solids from chemical facilities must be properly stored until final disposal. This may be in a lead lined pond or in drums that will be removed by a licensed industrial waste disposal professional. However, depending on the toxicity levels of the industrial waste, certain types of chemicals and chemical by-products may be disposed of in regulated facilities where highly toxic waste is stored.

Toxic waste

Toxic waste is waste that contains chemicals that are very harmful to health and the environment.

The best way to prevent damage from toxic waste is to stop production. Governments must ban toxic products and toxic production processes. Communities can promote the use of alternative products for the industry. If centers are created where the toxic products are left or collected, they are prevented from continuing to pollute the land and the community’s water systems.

How to handle and safely dispose of toxic waste

The safe disposal of toxic waste can be a complicated and costly task, and it is, therefore, best for governments to enforce regulations on how to use, store and dispose of them, with measures that include education and training of community members for that they know how to handle them and discard them without danger. The following are some guidelines for the management of toxic waste:

  • Store toxic products away from food and water and away from where children can find them.
  • Keep toxic products in their original containers and never remove labels. This helps prevent the containers from being reused for water or for storing food.
  • Store toxic waste separated from other household waste.
  • Do not burn toxic waste! If it does, the chemicals will spread in the ash and smoke, and could even produce more harmful chemicals.
  • Do not throw toxic materials in toilets, pipes, drainage channels, rivers, aqueducts or soils.
  • Check with local health authorities and resource recovery centers for the best way to get rid of toxic waste in your region of residence.

How to discard the most common toxic products

The following common household products can produce noxious waste if not handled with due care and not disposed of safely.

Paint and paint containers- The store closed cans of paint in a cool place. Once all the paint is used, flatten the paint containers, wrap them in newspapers, put them in a plastic bag and bury them in a landfill. Although latex-based paint is less toxic than others, it must be removed by applying the same method used for other paints.

Solvents (degreasers, turpentine, paint remover, toner)- Store these solvents in closed containers in a cool place, so they can not cause fires. After using the solvent in its entirety, make holes in its container to prevent it from being used again. Flatten the containers, wrap them in the newspaper, put them in a plastic bag and deposit them in a sanitary landfill or sealed containers.

Used motor oil- Never pour oil on the ground or in rivers and aqueducts. Store it in closed containers. Service stations can sometimes recycle used motor oil. With the used motor oil, the wooden poles of the constructions can also be covered, to prevent them from rotting on the ground. It is also possible to burn it as fuel in certain stoves.

Batteries- In some places the batteries can be recycled. However, recycling batteries manually are dangerous and should not be done without being trained to do so and without having the necessary protective equipment.

Pesticides– Drill or destroy pesticide containers so they can not be reused. Bury them in a sanitary landfill. See instructions for using less pesticides in agriculture and in the home.

Medical waste -(for example bloodstained bandages, needles and other dirty puncture instruments and expired medicines). In Chapter 19 you will find instructions on how to reduce the amount of medical waste, and how to store and handle it in the best possible way.