Solid and Hazardous Waste

Chapter 13

Key Concepts

Types and amounts of wastes

Preventing waste

Methods of dealing with wastes

Hazardous waste regulation in the US


Wasting Resources

US waste:11 billion metric tons/year


Mining waste

Agricultural waste

Industrial waste

Municipal solid waste (MSW)

Sewage sludge


US Solid Waste since 1960

Waste Disposal Methods

Whatís in our trash?

US consumers toss every year:

aluminum cans to rebuild commercial airline fleet 4 times

e-waste by the millions

tires to circle planet 3x

diapers to moon and back 7x

carpet to cover Delaware

670,000 metric tons of food

and much, much moreÖ


Producing Less Waste

Waste management

high waste approach

Burying, burning, shipping

Waste prevention

low waste approach

Reduce, reuse, recycle


Dealing with Material Use and Wastes

Solutions:Cleaner Production

Ecoindustrial revolution

Resource exchange webs

waste from one industry is raw material for another Ė see figure

Biomimicry (mimic nature)

no waste in nature

Service-flow economy

more in a moment


Industrial Ecosystem in Denmark

Solutions:Selling Services Instead of Things

Service-flow economy

Dow Chemical - solvents

Uses a minimum amount of material

Xerox copy services

Products last longer

Products are easier to maintain, repair, and recycle

Carpet tiles




Extends resource supplies

Saves energy and money

Reduces pollution

Creates jobs

Reusable products




Primary (closed-loop)

Secondary (open loop)

Pre-consumer waste

Post-consumer waste


Characteristics of Recyclable Materials

Easily isolated from other waste

Available in large quantities



Benefits of Recycling

Case Studies: Wastepaper and Plastics

49% of wastepaper recycled in US

Chlorine-based compound in paper production

10% or less of plastic recycled in US

Plastics can be very difficult to recycle


Burning Wastes

Mass burn incineration

Air pollution

Waste to energy



Burying Wastes

Landfills most common method of waste disposal - cheap and convenient.

Open pits no longer acceptable.

Complex impermeable bottom layers to trap contaminants

Daily deposits are covered by layer of dirt.

Methane gas and leachate monitoring wells


Sanitary Landfill

Sanitary Landfills: Trade-offs

The Love Canal Story

Love Canal was a waterway built in the 1800s next to Niagara Falls, NY.

Hooker Chemical Company purchased the site and used it for a chemical dump 1942-53.

Site was sold to local govít for $1.A housing development and school were constructed on the site in the 70s.

Chemicals began seeping into basements.

Housewife and resident Lois Gibbs brought problems to national attention in 1977.

Some families moved right away, some cleanup done.


The Love Canal Story

Of remaining families, miscarriage rate 50% higher than normal.

Of 17 pregnancies in 1979, 2 normal, 9 had birth defects, 2 still born, 4 miscarriages.

In adults tested, nerve impulses slower, 30% had broken chromosomes.

1980, govít relocated everybody, started massive cleanup.

1990 cleanup done, new development called Black Creek Village opened.Houses cheap.


Hazardous Waste Regulation in the United States

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund)

National Priority List

Polluter-pays principle


Hazardous Wastes: Types

Contains at least one toxic compound

Catches fire easily

Reactive or explosive

Corrodes metal containers


Not Hazardous Wastes under RCRA

Radioactive wastes

Household wastes

Mining wastes

Oil and gas drilling wastes

Liquids containing organic hydrocarbons

Cement kiln dust

<100 kg (220 lb) per month



Dealing with Hazardous Wastes

What Harmful Chemicals Are in Your Home?

Detoxifying and Removing Wastes

Physical methods

Chemical methods



Plasma incineration


Deep-well Disposal

Hazardous Waste Landfill

Surface Impoundments: Trade-offs

Some common hazardous chemicals


paint, gasoline, pipes, accumulates in soil and water

neurological damage, slows brain development, kidney disorders; children especially vulnerable


paint, batteries, old thermometers, industrial processes, combustion of coal, dental fillings, contaminated historical mining sites

damages brain, kidneys, developing fetus, learning disabilities, death with high doses

Some common hazardous chemicals


treated wood, industrial processes, contaminated soil and water

impairs organ, heart, and blood functions; damages nervous system

PCBs (Ploycholorinated biphenyls)

industrial chemical (used in fire retartands, lubricants, insulation for electrical transformers, some printing inks)

carcinogenic, birth defects, lower IQ, learning disabilities, impairs neurological development



ASARCO of Tacoma

Commencement Bay home to smelting, shipbuilding, sawmills, refineries

Lead and Copper smelter

Operated 1890-1986

Released arsenic and lead into atmosphere

Now contaminated soil present throughout Puget Sound region

Largest Superfund site in Washington


Hanford Nuclear Reservation : a complicated cleanup

1377 waste sites: trenches, pits, tanks, ponds, underground cribs

Both radioactive and toxic materials present

Example: Two pools store 100,000 spent fuel rods.Radioactive uranium, plutonium, cesium, and strontium released into water.The pools leak and soil and groundwater have become contaminated.The Columbia River is threatened.

Tanks of toxic and/or radioactive liquids have boiled for years by their own reactivity.Crusts of hazardous material forms on outside of tanks.

Solutions:Achieving a Low-Waste Society

Local grassroots action

International ban on 12 persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

(the dirty dozen)

Precautionary Principle