Skip to main content
Medicine LibreTexts

13.5: Waste Management

  • Page ID
    11781
  • Waste management or waste disposal are all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes amongst other things collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation. It also encompasses the legal and regulatory framework that relates to waste management encompassing guidance on recycling.

    The term normally relates to all kinds of waste, whether generated during the extraction of raw materials, the processing of raw materials into intermediate and final products, the consumption of final products, or other human activities, including municipal (residential, institutional, commercial), agricultural, and social (health care, household hazardous waste, sewage sludge). Waste management is intended to reduce adverse effects of waste on health, the environment or aesthetics.

    Waste management practices are not uniform among countries (developed and developing nations); regions (urban and rural area), and sectors (residential and industrial).

    Waste Hierarchy

    The waste hierarchy refers to the "3 Rs" reduce, reuse and recycle, which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability in terms of waste minimization. The waste hierarchy remains the cornerstone of most waste minimization strategies. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste; see: resource recovery. The waste hierarchy is represented as a pyramid because the basic premise is for policy to take action first and prevent the generation of waste. The next step or preferred action is to reduce the generation of waste i.e. by re-use. The next is recycling which would include composting. Following this step is material recovery and waste-to-energy. Energy can be recovered from processes i.e. landfill and combustion, at this level of the hierarchy. The final action is disposal, in landfills or through incineration without energy recovery. This last step is the final resort for waste which has not been prevented, diverted or recovered. The waste hierarchy represents the progression of a product or material through the sequential stages of the pyramid of waste management. The hierarchy represents the latter parts of the life-cycle for each product.

    Noise Pollution

    Noise pollution is the disturbing noise with harmful impact on the activity of human or animal life. The source of outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines and transportation systems, motor vehicles engines and trains. Outdoor noise is summarized by the word environmental noise. Poor urban planning may give rise to noise pollution, side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas. Documented problems associated with urban environment noise go back as far as Ancient Rome. Noise from roadways and other urban factors can be mitigated by urban planning and better design of roads.

    Outdoor noise can be caused by machines, construction activities, and music performances, especially in some workplaces. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by outside (e.g. trains) or inside (e.g. music) noise. High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects in humans and an increased incidence of coronary artery disease. In animals, noise can increase the risk of death by altering predator or prey detection and avoidance, interfere with reproduction and navigation, and contribute to permanent hearing loss.