There are several ways to describe integrated waste management and its benefits. Perhaps the best way for our purposes is to look at the effect of solid waste on the economy and environment of a community. The job creation and economic potential of IWM stem from the following:
The economic value of recovered materials as re-usable products (either “as is,” or through refurbishment) or as raw materials.
The opportunity for simpler, more decentralized sometimes more labor-intensive solid waste management solutions which can create jobs in rural communities.
Such decentralized solutions often work better in more sparsely-populated, rural communities because they do not depend upon high population densities to achieve economies of scale (e.g., centralized solutions may be expensive in rural areas because of the long transport distances required to serve relatively few people.
Community or backyard composting of yard, food, and other organic waste is often better suited to rural areas because it saves transportation of these heavy waste stream components over relatively longer distances than in urban areas).
Opportunities to intentionally create and recruit businesses and industries which use the waste streams of existing business as feed stocks. Such arrangements can help to plug economic “leaks” from our rural communities.
Such methods can be integrated into the strategies of local business development specialists, industrial recruiters, and existing industry managers.
The short-term and long-term economic value to rural communities of avoided land filling.
Benefits of this include:
Deferring expensive landfill sitting processes
Reducing annual operation and maintenance costs for existing landfills
Reducing transportation costs to the community and
Reducing the rate at which successive cells of expensive new subtitle D landfills must be developed and lined.
Community resources saved at the landfill can be diverted into economic development efforts.
The traditional economic model views economic activity and its benefits as the extraction of raw materials, their manufacture or processing, the sale of the product or commodity, and then its use by consumers. The rest of the life cycle of the raw materials and energy consists of disposal at some cost, and control of the associated pollutants.
In other words, once a product, by-product or material becomes classified as a “waste,” it has not only zero value but a negative value, i.e., the cost to local government of “disposal,” pollution control, and the health cost to society of any pollutants not successfully controlled.
Benefits of Integrated Waste Management
Integrated waste management provides a new approach to solid waste. It seeks to keep products, the materials and energy embodied in their manufacture, and the by-products of their manufacture, in the productive part of the economy and out of the “waste” stream as long as possible, and to wring as much economic value out of them as possible before giving up on them as “waste.” When this is done, the following happens:
Local and regional economies benefit by the continued exchange value of the reclaimed materials and products and the jobs created in reprocessing and reselling them.
Private businesses often find these materials a cheaper source of raw materials than virgin sources, especially when virgin materials are becoming scarce, more difficult to access, under more stringent regulatory controls, or must be shipped from far away.
It often takes less energy to reprocess or re-manufacture these reclaimed materials than raw materials, because of the energy already embodied in their original manufacture.
This increases the value of these materials to industry, since energy savings in manufacturing can be added to the acquisition savings for a more competitive “bottom line.”
National and global resource natural depletion is reduced, contributing to a more sustainable long-term economy.
Local governments benefit through reduced cost of ultimate “disposal” of the materials because many would-be “waste” materials and products are diverted from their landfills for an extended period of time.
Pollution from landfills is reduced because many toxic or otherwise polluting materials are diverted from the landfills, and because the overall volume of land filled material is reduced.
Read Also : Concept Integrated Waste Management (IWM)
Another valuable feature of IWM is that it applies to all solid waste situations, from the largest city or industry to commercial and office waste streams, right down to the individual household. This means that its positive impact can be understood and enjoyed by the whole community, not just by solid waste managers and planners. It also means that the economic impact of IWM can be felt by all economic sectors in the community.
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