Experience has shown that designing one neatly-packaged, systematic approach for communities to achieve the greatest possible measure of IWM benefits may be difficult.
However, the following set of integrated waste management application principles has opened up some new opportunities in guiding the community planning process in our region. We‘ve found that these “application principles” are consistent with the values, culture, resources and preferences commonly held in rural areas.
Principle 1: Search for Value
Solid waste only becomes “waste” when people lose sight of its value. Virtually everything in the “waste stream” has residual value for someone or some business in the community. The key message to the IWM planning team and the community is, find the value and redirect it back into the community.
Read Also: Advantages of Waste Recycling
Part of this process is to find or create local markets for reused, recycled, reprocessed or composted materials. Another important element in redirecting value is to create new local enterprises based on waste stream redirection.
Principle 2: Start Upstream
If we think of solid waste as a flow of materials entering the community at different places, travelling through the community as they are used one or more times, and ending up in other places, we can use the analogy of a river or stream. Intercepting a would-be waste item as far “upstream” as possible after its initial use has several advantages:
- It often has more value left in it
- It is usually cleaner & easier to re-use or recycle
- Less energy has been wasted transporting it and
- The original purchaser of the item has the first opportunity to reuse it.
In this way of looking at solid waste management, we try to intercept each item as far upstream as possible, redirecting it before it becomes defined as “waste”.
First owners of the item get the first chance to re-use it. Waste management becomes the responsibility of each member of the community, and doesn’t just “get passed on to the ward, city or town.”
Principle 3: Use the IBWM Hierarchy to Retain Value
The integrated waste management hierarchy gives us a systematic way to search for the value in would-be waste items.
For example, it suggests that re- using an item usually captures more value and saves more money than, say, burning it.
In combination with Principle 2, we can systematically look at each component of the waste stream.
Principle 4: Start Where the Community Is
Each rural community – and each person, business, institution and local government in the community – has its own unique culture and way of looking at solid waste and its economy.
The solid waste management process works best if it reflects both the values of the community and the local approach to waste management practices. Some communities may have specific waste issues on the table, such as toxic wastes, cost of disposal, tipping fees, flow control, meeting regulatory mandates, or controversial waste management technologies.
Not only will one waste management strategy not work for all rural communities, but even different industries, businesses, or neighborhoods may prefer different approaches.
Planners should be sensitive to what motivates each waste generator, and encourage innovative, localized solutions.
Principle 5: Keep Materials Separated
Mixing unlike solid wastes together often contaminates otherwise useful materials and reduces their value.
It also causes additional processing to be done to re-separate the materials or items farther “downstream.” Materials and items are often transported great distances and handled several times, wasting public funds which could better be used elsewhere.
Principle 6: Minimize Handling, Transportation and Processing
This is related to principles 2, 3 and 5. The earlier in the “waste stream” an article or material can be intercepted and returned or diverted to its next use, the more money the community saves in hauling and handling costs including vehicle fuel and its polluting effects, labor, and equipment costs.
Principle 7: Start with the Low-Tech, Low-Cost, Flexible Solutions
People find it easier to participate in low-technology solid waste solutions. It is easier to visualize doing your part in a backyard or small town composting operation than to send your garbage to a high-tech, regional incinerator in the next county.
Low-tech solutions usually cost less to put in place and less to abandon, dismantle, or alter if they are no longer viable. Citizens who have participated first hand in such solutions will learn their pros and cons, and may be better able to understand the need for higher tech and/or regional solutions at a later date.
Solid waste management is a rapidly-changing endeavor. A community’s strategy for dealing with old newspapers should include a contingency plan for rising and falling paper recycling markets. Without an alternative solution such as storage or composting, a mountain of old newsprint can get out of control.
When the market prices are low, inflexible contingency plans may trap a program in a system which is not economically viable. When prices are high, an inflexible system may not allow a community to take full advantage of the market.
Principle 8: Measure Results in a Meaningful Way
Three guidelines of the total quality‖ philosophy in business are “measure, measure, and measure.” In order to monitor the success of a rural community’s solid waste management strategies, solid waste managers must first measure results against the objectives the community intended to achieve.
Secondly, it must measure the total costs and benefits in some agreed-upon way. In a community whose primary motivation is to defer the sitting of a new landfill, measuring reductions in compacted-in-place, buried waste may be the most appropriate and important measure of success.
In a community which chooses to use solid waste management to create new jobs, the number of jobs created and the dollar value of materials and items recovered may be the most important measure. At the same time, the costs to the community of achieving their solid waste goals should not be ignored.
For example, if the community seeking to extend the life of its landfill decides to ship waste out of the county, it should have some way of measuring the costs associated with hauling, liability risks, reduced motivation for waste reduction within the community, etc.
Some form of full cost accounting should be agreed upon and adopted by the community, so that offsetting costs and benefits of each solution can be recognized and evaluated.
In conclusion, integrated Biomedical Waste Management (IBWM) takes an overall approach to creating sustainable systems that are economically affordable, socially acceptable and environmentally effective.
An integrated solid waste management system involves the use of a range of different treatment methods, and key to the functioning of such a system is the collection and sorting of the waste.
It is important to note that no one single treatment method can manage all the waste materials in an environmentally effective way. Thus all of the available treatment and disposal options must be evaluated equally and the best combination of the available options suited to the particular community chosen.
Effective management schemes therefore need to operate in ways which best meet current social, economic, and environmental conditions of the municipality.