How to handle waste

February 3, 2023

Most waste is produced by humans, this is due to the great consumption of the products we have every day. The excessive growth of waste is a problem for our planet, so waste management is established, encouraging reuse and recycling, betting on clean technologies to handle it, expanding services and educational campaigns for citizens.

Definition of waste management and its stages

How is the waste we produce managed? We can define waste management as a process that involves various activities necessary to deal with all the waste that arises . There are 3 main stages of waste management :

  1. Waste extraction and collection : this involves the use of containers in which the waste must be placed, and depending on the country and its management system, more or fewer containers are used to classify it, and the colors may vary. For example, there are countries that have containers for plastic, paper, organic waste, glass, etc.
  2. Waste transportation: at this stage, the waste is taken by trucks to the sorting or treatment facilities.
  3. Waste management: in this last phase of waste management, the waste is treated differently, depending on its origin, using different methods.

What is waste management – Definition of waste management and its stages

Types of waste management

The classification of waste management is based mainly on its origin. Thus, depending on the origin of the waste, waste management can be divided into:

  • Solid urban waste management.
  • Hazardous waste management.
  • Sanitary waste management.
  • Industrial waste management.

Urban Solid Waste Management.

City solid waste is what is generated in homes . They include electrical appliances, cleaning products, furniture, containers, trash, etc. Their management refers to the procedures involved in the collection, separation, treatment, recycling and final disposal of waste. Waste collection can be global or selective, the latter classifying waste according to its composition for subsequent recycling (plastic, glass, paper) or special treatment.

Hazardous waste management

This management covers all those processes that suffer from waste classified as hazardous or very hazardous to health and the environment. To manage them from their collection follows a series of standards classifying them according to various criteria, they are then chemically and physically treated to convert them into inert substances, and they are left in reinforced sediments to reduce their hazards. Some examples of hazardous waste :

  • Explosives.
  • Flammable.
  • Carcinogens.
  • Sensitizing agents.
  • Irritants.

Medical waste management

Sanitary waste or hospital waste has a high biological risk, so its management is very important. When handling sanitary or hospital waste, it must be properly classified and stored and special measures must be used for its disposal in order to reduce or eliminate the high risk that it poses to the environment and health. Waste must be delivered to companies accredited to transport it to its disposal site.

Industrial Waste Management.

These are residues from industrial production processes. To manage industrial waste, companies that produce waste must keep it in optimal conditions until a manager collects it to transport it and get it treated and recycled. Some of the treatment methods used are physical, chemical, biological or thermal.

Approaches and best practices

A waste audit is an evaluation of an organization’s waste management system. It analyzes the movement of waste from generation to disposal. Common approaches to a waste audit include reviewing records, site visits, and waste sorting.

  1. The first approach – consists of reviewing waste transportation and disposal records and contracts with recycling facilities.
  2. The second approach – requires a team of internal auditors to identify waste-causing activities by observing and interviewing employees.
  3. The third approach : is to physically collect, sort and weigh a sample of the organization’s waste. This sampling can be a waste day or a waste collection from each department.

Waste audit best practices include refraining from disclosing the audit date to the entire organization, preparing personal protective equipment and sorting location in advance, and committing to act on the results of the waste audit. This can be accomplished by creating corrective action plans for each possible outcome.

For example, if an organization has a low score in a certain area, the following steps should be taken. For this to work, it is important that the organization establish criteria prior to conducting a waste audit. Another tip is to use digital waste audit checklists to make it easier to document and analyze the data in more depth.

Waste audit checklists

A digital waste checklist is used before, during and after a waste audit. It typically includes planning, waste sorting, and next steps, but can also include a description of the organization’s waste stream. Digital waste checklists are not only more convenient but also better for the environment than paper ones.

Waste Audit Checklist

Agree that your organization has an effective waste audit process in place. Determine the readiness of the waste audit team, test the sorting equipment, and develop corrective action plans. Confirm that goals and projections have been listed. Ensure that puncture-resistant nitrile gloves, Tyvek overalls, and tables with plastic covers are available.

Compare results with previous waste audits and initial projections to critically evaluate the organization’s waste management system. View the sample report for more information.

Waste audit template

Use this waste audit template to document the results of your organization’s waste audit.

  • Examine your current waste management system, providing details of your current waste operations and recycling efforts.
  • Find out the real cost of refusing to recycle by analyzing your trash collection bills.
  • Sort your waste by category, such as paper, plastic, aluminum and steel.
  • Write down the estimated percentage of the subcategories of the waste stream.
  • Add pictures as evidence or for future reference.