Waste Management 101

Baltimore County Waste Management controls and minimizes solid waste’s effects on human health, the environment, and planetary resources. It encompasses all waste generation, collection, treatment, and disposal aspects.

It’s time to stop “waste not, want not” and get serious about the environmental impact of our discards. This means starting with a plan for sorting and measuring your facility’s waste.

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Waste management is all about caring for the environment and reducing the amount of waste we generate. It includes collecting, transporting, and disposing all types of unwanted materials. There are many ways to reduce waste, from avoiding disposable plastic utensils to recycling old paper. It also involves educating the public about the benefits of recycling.

The most important step in waste management is refusing to create it in the first place. This can be achieved by avoiding single-use items, such as plastic utensils, water bottles and black takeout containers. Using reusable products is also helpful, as is refusing to accept free items such as coupons, flyers and marketing swag.

Another way to reduce waste is through minimizing its volume. This can be done by separating different types of materials and placing them in the proper bins. It’s important to avoid mixing materials, as this can make them difficult or impossible to recycle.

Solid waste is generated by every person, business and organization on the planet. While most of this waste is harmless, some is dangerous and must be handled carefully. It can include industrial non-hazardous waste, hazardous waste, animal and plant waste, metal waste, agricultural waste, radioactive waste, fossil fuel combustion waste, oily sludge, construction and demolition debris and sewage sludge.

A variety of methods can be used to manage solid waste, including recycling, landfill disposal and incineration. Many countries have implemented policies to encourage waste reduction, reuse and recycling. These policies often include a user fee for garbage collection, combining waste management bills with electricity or water bills, and taxing manufacturers and large businesses. They can also involve establishing a comprehensive waste tracking and reporting system to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the waste management process.


The first step in managing waste is to reduce the amount of materials or products that are generated. This is called source reduction or “prevention“. Source reduction involves making changes in the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials and products to avoid creating waste. For example, a company may encourage employees to print double-sided to save paper or install on-site recycling stations at workplaces. It may also modify printing settings to default to the most energy-efficient setting.

The next step in the waste management hierarchy is reuse. Reuse involves extending the useful life of products and materials by finding alternative uses for them, such as by donation, resale, or repair. This delays the need for disposal or recycling, and can also reduce the need to extract new resources from the environment.

Finally, recycling is the final preferred waste management strategy. This process transforms discarded materials into useful or new products, while reducing air, water, and land pollution. It also saves energy and conserves natural resources. Commonly recycled products include glass, plastics, and paper.

Almost all countries generate municipal solid waste (MSW). This includes organic waste, such as food scraps and yard debris, as well as non-organic waste such as newspapers, aluminum cans, and glass bottles. The vast majority of MSW is disposed of improperly, contributing to air and water pollution. Rapid urbanization, population growth, and economic development are driving global waste generation, which is expected to increase by more than 70% over the next 30 years without urgent action. Poorly managed waste can cause severe harm to human health and the environment, but with proper planning, it can be reduced. The first step is to track and analyze current waste streams to identify opportunities for improvement.


Ideally, all waste should be reused, but this is often not possible. The best way to minimize waste is to refuse it in the first place – this can be done by avoiding disposable items, buying less stuff, and reducing packaging size. The next step in the hierarchy is to reduce, which can be accomplished by repairing broken items and using reusable materials for food storage and serving.

Another way to reduce waste is to repurpose it, which is what we call upcycling. For example, you can make art or crafts out of paper that’s been used once and use old glass bottles as drink containers. Many local councils have kerbside recycling programs for paper, glass, aluminium, and tin. Check out your local council website to see if they offer these services.

When it’s not possible to refuse or reduce, the next best thing is to reuse the item. This can be done by donating it to charity, selling it at a secondhand store, or even making something new out of it. This step also helps to reduce the need for fresh materials by keeping them out of the waste stream.

The final option is to recycle, which involves turning the trash into new products to decrease production of raw materials and conserve energy. This is a great way to reduce air and water pollution, and to limit the need for fossil fuels. However, it is important to remember that the best option is always prevention. By refusing single-use plastics, reducing packaging, and purchasing recycled products, we can help to prevent the global pile of garbage that’s growing exponentially due to rapid urbanization and economic development.


Recyclables get a second life and help save natural resources. When used properly, recycling reduces the need to extract raw materials and prevents pollutants from entering the environment. But it is important to understand that not all recyclables are equal and only those free of contamination should make their way into your recycle bin. Educate yourself and your employees by learning about the Three Basic Rules and in-depth guides to recycling.

It takes much more time and energy to extract new natural resources than it does to reuse existing ones. In addition, the mining process can destroy natural habitats and pollute nearby water sources. Proper recycling can help protect the planet’s fragile ecosystems by saving valuable natural resources.

Most of the world’s natural resources are finite, and recycling can help ensure that we have a steady supply of many necessary elements. It also helps reduce waste disposal costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Recycling uses the same materials as new products, reducing the need for new raw materials and limiting environmental damage from pollution and deforestation. In some cases, recycled products can be remanufactured into the same product, such as paper into new office paper or polystyrene foam into new insulation.

Businesses can reduce their waste disposal costs and increase sustainability by adopting a comprehensive recycling program. Identifying the types and amounts of waste your organization produces is the first step toward improving your recycling habits. You can then use this information to improve your recycling programs, reduce hauling costs, and negotiate with waste management vendors that fit your business needs. In addition, a sustainable waste reduction program can boost your corporate image, attract quality tenants to your building and improve employee engagement.


Waste incinerators, also known as waste-to-energy facilities, burn garbage to produce heat and electricity. They are used in countries like Singapore and the Netherlands where there is a shortage of land for landfills. This type of disposal also eliminates the production of methane, which is a greenhouse gas and safety hazard.

To reduce environmental and health impacts, incinerators are subject to strict air quality regulations. However, incinerator emissions are often unpredictable and can fluctuate between countries. In addition, plant operating conditions and composition of waste material can influence the amount of pollutants produced. For example, the occurrence of mechanical issues, disturbances or failure of control systems may increase emission levels above those permitted by regulations.

These pollutants are released into the air and can contaminate water and food sources. They can also affect human health, increasing the risk of diseases and cancers. Research shows that residents living near incinerators can experience higher rates of respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and birth defects. In addition, many of the most toxic chemicals emitted by incinerators are persistent organic pollutants that do not break down and build up in people and wildlife.

Some of the waste burned in incinerators can be recycled, but this is usually a small percentage of the total waste processed. For example, incinerator bottom ash can be reused as an aggregate for lightweight blocks, pavement concrete, bulk fill and other construction materials. Metals extracted from the combustion residue are also used in the manufacturing of cars, ships and aircraft. The recovery of these materials is not included in the recycling targets set by Europe, although they are considered a form of material recovery.