Municipal Solid Waste


MunicipalSolid Waste

MunicipalSolid Waste

Municipalsolid waste refers to the unwanted materials resulting from itemsused in every day’s processes in households, industrial, andcommercial settings. Over the years, these wastes increased therebybecoming a public health and safety concern. Clearly, municipal solidwaste had turned a problem years following industrial revolutionunlike time before when constituents of waste were largely organicand biodegradable materials that decompose easily (“AdvancingSustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures | SustainableMaterials Management | US EPA.,”2013). With the onset of industrial revolution in England during1700s and its spread to all parts of the globe, inorganic and slowdecomposing matters were generated. Consequently, quantity andquality increased, leading to the evolution of solid wastemanagement. Despitethe changes, in municipal solid waste, proper waste managementtechniques such as reduction at source, recycling, treatment and safedisposal can help prevent hazardous health and safety implications.

OpenDumps and Landfills

Opendump is a site of illegal disposal of solid waste whose existencethreatens people, wildlife, and ecosystems. They have adverse impactssuch as accumulation of leachate that attracts mosquitoes, Tse Tsefly, and other disease vectors, producing a disturbing smell that cancause respiratory diseases to both animals and plants, and hasdangerous objects that can cause injuries to living things. Inaddition, leachate can poison and cause eutrophication to waterresources.

Landfillsare designated sites for disposing of waste by covering, burying orburning it. These sites are important because unlike open dumps, theyprovide a forum for potential recycling, sorting of waste,collection, and treatment (Pillai, &amp Shah, 2014). Also, landfillsare engineered and controlled to prevent hazardous effects to publichealth and safety (Sidhardhan, Adishkumar, &amp Jayganesh, 2015).Although impacts of landfills are less by the design and controlmeasures, they can contaminate water resources through leachateinfiltration into the soil, release of dangerous gasses such asmethane that could poison habitats and organisms or propagate globalwarming. Finally, these sites are dangerous when located near humansettlements since they house disease vectors, contaminate resources,and increase the risk of injuries and fire explosion.

Landfillshave evolved with time to accommodate the waste quantity and quality.Unlike early landfills, modern landfills have protective design toreduce environment and public through isolation of waste. Moreimportantly, their location and design are determined throughenvironmental assessment of various aspects such as proximity toground water reservoirs, surface water bodies, and nature of bedrock(Sidhardhan, Adishkumar, &amp Jayganesh, 2015). Even during theiroperations, continuous evaluation and monitoring of the facilitiesand the surroundings are guaranteed to protect ecosystems (Pillai, &ampShah, 2014). In early landfills, the technology, protocols andequipment were not necessary since waste was highly biodegradablewithin a considerable time.

Acase study of Altamont Landfill, California

Themanagement of Altamont Land Fill in California has implementedvarious innovations to increase the productivity of the landfill andenhance environmental safety. The facility has a system forrecovering methane gas that is converted into a liquefied natural gas(LNG) and electricity. According to “Altamont Landfill and ResourceRecovery Facility, Case Study” (2011), the facility effectivenessin capturing the natural gas is 93 percent, leading to the productionof 2 million gallons of LNG since late 2009. Also, the management hasimplemented treatment measures to reduce the toxicity of the finalwaste in the production units.


Inconclusion, municipal solid waste is an environmental and publichealth challenge. However, with a shift to the modern andsustainable practices, people can not only prevent adverse impacts tothe environment but also increase benefits from these wastes. It isclear that with civilization, challenges in waste management haveevolved too, rendering tradition measures of waste handling such asearly open dumps and landfills ineffective.


AdvancingSustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures | SustainableMaterials Management | US EPA.(2013). 30 October 2016, from

AltamontLandfill and Resource Recovery Facility, Case Study.(2011). 30 October 2016, from

Pillai,R., &amp Shah, R. (2014). Management: CurrentPractices and Futuristic Approach. SCMSJournal of Indian Management,11(4),72-78.

Sidhardhan,S., Adishkumar, S., &amp Jayganesh, D. (2015). A GeophysicalInvestigation of Resistivity and Groundwater Quality near a CorporateSolid Waste Dump. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 24(6),2761-2766. doi:10.15244/pjoes/59239