Waste Facilities and the Environment
For most households and businesses, the rubbish that is thrown into the general waste bins will be taken away by truck to a site not far away, and the contents unceremoniously dumped into a large pile made up of all the rubbish that other trucks have collected in the area. What happens next will vary depending upon the facilities on the site, but in all cases there will be a potential and likelihood for a harmful environmental impact.
The first stage will often be the separation of the various types of materials from each other. Even with the significant increase over the last decade or so in terms of the amount of material which is recycled, there will still be a lot of items which could be recycled but were thrown into the general rubbish bin. Instead of these being sent to landfill, separating them out will enable many of the items to be recycled, which not only reduces the space required for landfill but also eliminates the need for fresh materials and resources to be consumed in making a brand new product when an old one could be recycled. This is obviously beneficial for the environment and the planet in the long term.
Some waste facilities will burn the rubbish sent to them. Segregation is therefore important to remove items which may produce and send out harmful gases and particulates into the atmosphere when they are burnt, otherwise environmental issues such as air pollution ensue which puts the health and safety of everybody living nearby at risk, particularly those sufferers of lung and airway-related conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
Types of Waste Disposal
The disposal of waste is a key environmental issue for businesses and organisations, particularly manufacturers who have to dispose of harmful or hazardous substances that are either used in the production process, or are formed as a by-product of production. In recent years, many countries around the world have introduced tough new environmental legislation regarding the disposal of waste, as well as introducing recycling schemes and initiatives to try and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill or has to be disposed of by other methods such as incineration, and the negative consequences that come with it (e.g. the emission of harmful gasses).
The traditional destination of waste, the future of landfill sites is becoming increasingly in doubt due to the number of problems and potential hazards that come with a large amount of waste in one location. Not only are they an eyesore and give off bad odours, but the decomposition of this waste produces methane gas which contributes to global warming, as well as concerns about the impact upon the surrounding environment such as the pollution and contamination of local water sources.
As towns and cities expand, the amount of available land that is not located close to an area of habitation is becoming increasingly scarce. Because of this, any new landfill site is likely to come under pressure from local residents as soon as it is proposed.
These concerns, as well as rising costs such as the Landfill Tax and the cost of complying with legislation on controlling/preventing hazardous waste from being stored on the landfill site means that this method of waste disposal is becoming increasingly unattractive, necessitating the need for alternative ways of eliminating waste.
As an alternative to landfill, some waste is incinerated to get rid of it. Not only does it mean it does not take up space like it does in landfill (once it's burnt it's gone!), but it also destroys hazardous material such as medical waste which could pose a danger in a landfill site, particularly in poorer nations where it is common for children to scour through rubbish piles looking for anything of value or potential use. Any steam given off can also be used to generate electricity, and the process can produce by-products such as ash which can be used in road building.
However, there are also downsides to incinerating waste, including harmful gasses and emissions released into the atmosphere, not to mention the high capital costs required to construct and operate a waste incineration plant which needs to comply with the country's environmental health and safety legislation.
Recycling and efficient use of resources plays a vital part in reducing further damage to the environment. Environmental training combined with increased awareness of how decisions and actions can impact upon the environment is essential for employees of the modern business, with qualifications such as the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate catering for this growing demand. For more information on this NEBOSH Course please click here, or choose the "NEBOSH Courses" option from the "Health & Safety" drop-down menu the top of the page to see the complete list of NEBOSH courses that we offer.
Environmental Health and Safety Courses
For environmental managers, or anybody respobsible for controlling or reducing the environmental impact of their organisation, we offer a number of accredited and non-accredited environmental health and safety training qualifications. Please click on a course title below to read the course outline: