Effects of Waste Disposal


Wastes are unused and unwanted materials discarded by various sources (by humans and animals) such as houses, hospitals, institutes, offices, factories, crop fields, and vehicles. These wastes can be decomposed naturally. Some of them are not degraded easily, they contaminate our environments and show an adverse impact on the community's health, climate and daily life. There are a number of methods to dispose of wastes to conserve the environment and protect humans and animals.

Why is waste disposal necessary?

  • Decrease the effect of waste on the atmosphere and health.

  • Recycle and reuse sources like paper, glass, cotton, cans, plastics etc., and decrease production costs.

  • Conserve natural resources by reusing them.

  • It helps to inform people about the daily waste production limits and they can keep the surroundings clean.

  • It improves community health as tidy surroundings influence positively to make better health and quality of life.

  • Reuse and recycling reduce the waste amount and limit the manufacturing or buying of new materials, leading to bigger profits for the companies especially restaurants, food manufacturers and supermarkets if they maintain supply efficiency.

  • Waste disposal also helps to handle inappropriate garbage that pollutes the environment having an adverse impact.

Types of waste

Wastes are of many types depending on sources, textures and decompositions.

Depending on the sources wastes are −

  • Agricultural waste − Fertilizers, pesticides, crop remnants, irrigation and sewage waters, weeds, husk, animal slurry etc.

  • Biomedical waste − Bloods, injections, discarded gloves, microbiological stocks and cultures, human tissue, bandages, laboratory waste, expired medicines, needles and all the other things used in clinics, hospitals, veterinarians etc.

  • Commercial waste − Plastics, papers used in college, schools, trading factories and offices etc.

  • Construction and demolition waste − Woods, bricks, concretes, rods and any other wastes released from the demolished area.

  • Domestic waste − Waste discharged from household works like cooking, cleaning etc.

  • E-Waste − Electrical appliances, bulbs, wires, TV, mobile, alarm clocks, watches, washing machines, etc.

  • Food waste − Half ate, unprocessed foods, water from washing dishes.

  • Industrial waste − Dirt, scrap, metal, oil, solvent, chemical, concrete, etc.

  • Radioactive waste − Wastes that are released by nuclear power generation, earth mining, reprocessing of nuclear weapons, nuclear research centres and nuclear medicine factories.

  • Mixed waste − Plastics, metals, cloths, cardboards, bottles, batteries, tires, cans of tin and aluminium, etc.

  • Marine debris − Floating water debris like driftwoods, plastics, ropes, cigarette stubs, fishing nets, oils discharged from the ships, etc.

  • Sewage − Sewage is a type of wastewater released from commercial, public, institutional and residential localities. The subtypes such as grey water from sinks, bathtubs, showers, and black water from toilet flushes come together with human wastes, detergents, and soaps.

Depending on texture wastes are −

  • Solid − Solid wastes can be wet and dry. The wastes dissolved in the water or any liquid are the wet waste e.g. juices, rotten fruits, veggies etc. Dry wastes can be plastics, papers, etc.

  • Liquid − Wastewater, oil, organic and inorganic wastewater, hazardous waters and chemicals, sewage water of crop fields etc.

  • Gaseous − Carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, chlorofluorocarbon, nitrous oxides, ozone, hydrogen sulphide, hydrogen chloride gas, polluted particles released in the air by factories, vehicles etc.

Depending on decomposition wastes are −

  • Biodegradable − This type of waste can be degraded as it contains organic matter and can be broken into carbon dioxide, water and methane by microorganisms through composting or aerobic digestion e.g. food, vegetables, papers etc.

  • Non- biodegradable − These wastes cannot be decomposed naturally. They are mainly inorganic or artificial in nature so they are recycled e.g. plastics.

Effects of improper waste disposal

  • The toxic and non-degradable radioactive residues damage the environment and health if not disposed of properly which is irreparable.

  • As typical waste disposal, burning of the rubbish materials releases pollutants into the air that may damage the planet through extreme climate change resulting from natural disasters (storms, typhoons, extreme increases in temperature).

  • Contaminates air, water and soil as well as affects animal and marine life.

  • Adverse effects on human health may result in several diseases, even death.

  • Diseases such as skin diseases, cholera and dysentery are spread due to the pathogen and hazards that contaminate the water.

  • Hazardous chemicals that contact soil and water, are absorbed by the plants and cause diseases like food poison, sometimes death after consumption by humans or any other animals.

Effects on plant growth

  • Creates dangerous greenhouse gases like methane, hydrogen sulphide, and carbon dioxide and traps heat. Temperature increases and causes global warming.

  • Changing climate is unfavourable for the survival of a species that decreases the habitat size. Reduction in the size of the habitat results in the extinction of the species. It may cause diversity loss.

  • Improper disposal like dumps or stagnant water (in cans, empty coconut shells, tires filled with rain water) give birth to the mosquito and flies that breed here and act like vectors of diseases like typhoid, malaria, plague, skin diseases, blood infections etc.

Methods of waste disposal

Landfill − It is the most common and oldest waste disposal method with a burial ground where the daily solid and dry wastes are compacted and covered with final disposal. It is safely isolated from the groundwater to inhibit pollution. It is located away from the locality, also called a dump yard.

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Incineration − In this method, the waste is destroyed by high heat burning to convert it to ash, heat and flue gases. It is also called thermal treatment.

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Biogas generation − takes place through the anaerobic digestion of the wastes in a large tank called a digester at 37°C for 3 weeks and then purified.

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Composting − It is a biological decomposition of organic wastes, beneficial and rich in nutrients, used as a fertilizer in fields and gardens to improve soil yields.

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Waste compaction − The waste is compacted by shredding into small pieces by compressing vehicles, then mixing and filling the void to manage the dumping area to store more.

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Vermicomposting − is a process of converting the waste into humus-like organic material by using worms e.g. earthworms and using it as a fertilizer (vermin-compost).

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Wastes are discarded materials that are disposed of to prevent the environment from pollution. There are a number of waste management systems like composting, landfills, incineration etc. for disposing of various types of wastes discussed above. If the waste is not decomposed properly it can be a threat to our mother earth.


Q1. State the disadvantages of biogas.

  • It contains impurities.
  • Optimal temperature is required to maintain supply.
  • Not suitable for metropolitan areas to get the raw materials.
  • Large production is not possible.

Q2. Why is incineration harmful?

Ans. It creates harmful air pollutants like particulate matter that cause lung and heart diseases.

Q3.How is waste management profitable?

Ans. Some companies like Terracycle and Boxcycle buy trash like cardboard, plastics, and packing materials, then recycle the products and sell them.

Q4. Define green waste.

Ans. It is also known as biological waste that is degradable e.g. flowers, fruits, plants, branches, hedges and grasses trimming etc.

Updated on: 07-Dec-2022


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