What is integrated solid waste management (ISWM)?

Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) is a thorough waste suppression, compost, removal and recycling Program. An effective ISWM system considers how to suppress, manage and recycle solid waste in a manner that is most efficiently to protect human health and the surrounding. ISWM system requires evaluation of public wants and demands and then selecting and merging the most effective waste management activities for the proposed demands. The main ISWM activities for solid waste management are Waste prevention, Recycling and Composting, and Combustion and Removal and waste collection in a properly planned, constructed, managed and mitigated landfill areas. Each of these requires careful designing, financing, accumulation, and delivery of activities.

Challenges of solid waste management

With the increase in population density and economic growth, the production of waste increases. Illegitimate solid waste management may cause a serious hazard to human health and nature. Unlimited dumping and inappropriate waste handling cause various difficulties, including water contamination, attracting insects and rodents, and an increase in floods because of the blocked drainage canals or drains. Additionally, this may cause safety risks from fires or explosions. Improper management of waste also multiplies greenhouse gas (GHG) releases as methane, carbon dioxide and so on that contributes to increases in climate toxicity. Planning and implementing a collective program for waste collection, transport, and disposal with activities to stop or recycle recyclable waste can eradicate these difficulties. Recycling can be feasible for only some items, which are in a state to use again, others are again dumped as waste that is of no use.

Components of ISWM

Source reduction or waste prevention

Waste prevention intends to stop the waste from being produced. Waste prevention schemes are inclusive of usage of less packaging, making long-lasting products, and reusing them. Waste prevention helps to reduce handling, treatment, and disposal expenses that finally reduce methane generation.

Composting and recycling

Recycling is a process that comprises assembling and reprocessing and/or renewal of selected waste materials (like glass, paper, plastic, paper, and so on) to make fresh materials and products. A considerable amount of recycled organic materials is rich in nutrients and can be useful for the improvement of soils. The conversion of waste materials into natural soil fertilizers is called composting. Recycling and composting generate many financial and natural benefits. For instance, they produce jobs and income, generate value for the raw materials to the industry, create soil-supplement compost, reprocess products, reduce greenhouse gas releases, many landfill areas, and combustion factories.

Disposal (landfill and combustion)

They are used to organize waste that cannot be prevented or recycled. For organic products, making compost is an environment-friendly process but for non-recyclable products, disposal is the only option. One method to remove waste is to keep it in properly created, constructed, and managed of a landfill, where it is safely placed and decomposed, if organic. Another method is to handle this waste is combustion. Combustion is the controlled burning of waste, which helps reduction of its volume. With the application of advanced technology, properly designed, constructed, and managed landfills can be used to produce energy by methane recovery. Similarly, combustion facilities generate steam and water as a by-product that can be used to create energy.

Development of a plan for ISWM

Planning is the prime step in improving a waste management system. Waste management planners must take into existence institutional, social, financial, economic, technical, and environmental factors which cover all the aspects. These factors alter from one place to another. Based on these factors, each community has the challenge of choosing which combination of waste management activities is premier to its requirements. As the Integrated Solid Waste Management Systems involve both short- and long-term choices, it is advisable to set up achievable targets. While preparing the ISWM plan, we should select goals or objectives (e.g., protect human health, protect water units, eradicate open dumping, increase recycling, or composting). The ISWM plan will assist and guide us through the implementation process. Never ignore to ask for the input of the community for preparation and development of the plan to make sure an increase in the public’s acceptance. Government plays a vital role in developing and legalizing waste management standards, funding provisions, and managing day-to-day activities.

Factors and steps to take when developing an ISWM plan

Institutional (laws and processes)

Initiate a national policy and pass laws on solid waste management standards and practices. Identify the roles and responsibilities of each government stage. Make sure the local government has the authority and resources to establish an ISWM plan.

Social (local customs and religious practices, public education)

Encourage participation of citizens in all stages of Waste Reduction and management planning to support for gaining community awareness, input, and acceptance.

Financial (funding)

Identify sources that can give finances for solid waste management, including general revenues or user fees, the private sector, and government or international agency grants and loans.

Economic (cost-effective and work prospects)

Determine the initial investment prerequisites, cost-effective long-term operating and maintenance expenses linked with a variety of Waste Reduction and management activities. Compute the public’s ability and willingness to pay and work out the activities based on effectiveness in handling waste and potential for work prospects.

Technical (location and equipment)

Incorporate geological factors, transport lengths, and estimated waste generation and design considerations. Evaluate what advanced equipment and technical training will be required to perform the waste management tasks.

Environmental (natural resources and human health)

Set up procedures to check the conservation of groundwater and drinking water. Proper creation of compost at specific locations.

The solid waste systems, if inappropriate and not followed hierarchically will impact climate change by energy consumption, methane emissions, carbon storage, and so on. Certain case studies show that ISWM is the key to a better future by the implementation of waste-to-energy practices, proper methodical removal of waste streams, and so on of the habitat and these case studies are a proven fact that the future is in our hands if we want to change for good. The waste streams are liquid waste disposal from domestic places and can be converted from waste to energy in a sustainable manner if segregated properly.

A recycling and waste-to-energy plant for waste that is not exported
CC0 | Image Credits: https://en.wikipedia.org | David Castor

Comprehensive ISWM planning process (hierarchically)

  1. Identify the needs
  2. Review existing system
  3. Review existing regulations
  4. Organize decision-making framework
  5. Establish objectives
  6. Identify potential components
  7. Compare options
  8. Develop the ISWM plan
  9. Implement the plan
  10. Evaluate the waste management system

Context and Applications

This topic is taught in courses related to:

  • Bachelors in Technology (Civil Engineering)
  • Masters in Science (Environmental Studies)
  • Masters in Science (Solid Waste Management)
  • Masters in Technology (Environmental Engineering)

Practice Problems

1. What is the full form of ISWM?

  1. Integrated Soil Water Management
  2. Integrated Solid Waste Management
  3. Integrated Soil Waste Management
  4. Integrated Sugar Waste Management

Correct option- b

Explanation: The full form of ISWM is Integrated Solid Waste Management.

2. Which one of the following is/are the component(s) of ISWM?

  1. Making of compost and Recycling
  2. Waste prevention
  3. Both a and b
  4. None of these

Correct option- c

Explanation: The making of compost and recycling, disposal, and waste prevention are the components of ISWM.

3. Which of the following is a greenhouse gas?

  1. Sulfur
  2. Nitrogen
  3. Methane
  4. Oxygen

Correct option- c

Explanation: Methane is a greenhouse gas.

4. What is meant by combustion?

  1. It is the burning of materials.
  2. It is the controlled burning of waste, which helps reduction of its volume.
  3. It is the unlimited burning of waste.
  4. None of the above.

Correct option: b

Explanation: Combustion is the controlled burning of waste, which helps in the reduction of its volume.

5. What are the significant factors and steps to take when developing an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan?

  1. Institutional and social
  2. Financial and economic
  3. Technical and environmental
  4. All of the above

Correct option- d

Explanation: The significant factors and steps to take when developing an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan are institutional and social, financial and economic, and technical and environmental.

  • Greenhouse effect
  • Solid waste management
  • Pollution
  • The solid waste systems
  • Environmental effects

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