Photo taken January 2019 on Brittanny's trip to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
The history of waste management dates back to the early 1900s but began to have further recognition when the Federal Government took action for the first time following World War II. Like any system, to understand where we got to today with our waste management practices, we have to acknowledge the issues that were ensued along the way.
Open Dumps: this method, quite obviously the first, was to simply pile and store piles of garbage in one designated spot (whether that be land or the ocean). The factor that gets detected the quickest is the dreadful smell but the long-term effects on the groundwater, habitats, and vegetation nearby can be drastic.
Sanitary Dumps: to take Open Dumps a step further, it seemed logical at the time to start burying the waste. This would eliminate the smell and prevent animals from picking at the waste. The issue with hiding the waste is that it is now hidden from oxygen and falls under anaerobic conditions. What does this mean? The absence of oxygen results in the release of methane [CH4] which is a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide [CO2]! The other major issue with the Sanitary Dumping method is the uncontrolled migration of leachates into the surrounding soil and groundwater. Heavy metals and volatile organic compounds that come from the waste have nowhere to go but down, in a highly concentrated matter.
Engineered Landfilling: so how could those high concentrations of leachate be prevented from seeping into the ground? This is where a more engineered approach came into play. There was a need for a barrier underneath the piles of garbage where the leachate could build-up within said barrier and be drained elsewhere through method of pipe and gravel! The 'elsewhere' of the leachate can depend on the system that was put into place. Most commonly a gas treatment system was designed to produce energy.
Bioreactor Landfilling: the anaerobic conditions can be manipulated into a digestion treatment plant to breakdown the organic material within the waste streams! Essentially, this system is recycling the leachate material through.
Incineration: unfortunately, if there is a restriction of land, the burning of material is still used. While the temperatures emitted are so high to allow for the hazardous contaminants to breakdown, there is still the negative environmental impacts, especially with air pollution.
We've only touched the tip of the landfill. There is much more to dive into about the technicalities of how we can build, manage, and maintain landfills for years to come.
Bill 151: An Act to enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002
Ont. Reg 232/98: Landfilling Sites
Ont. Reg 347: General Waste Management [EPA]
COLLECTION AND TRANSPORT
Whether in the private or public sector, the frequency of garbage collection is typically governed by the climate, costs, and public demand. The influencing factors on the collection are the size of the region, economic structure of the area, zoning laws, user demands, traffic situation, kind of residence, and much more!