Solid Waste Management

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Solid Waste

What does solid waste include?

Solid wastes are divided into two groups depending on their origins and characteristics: industrial (both non hazardous and hazardous) and municipal wastes. Wastes from small businesses engaging in commercial activity, for example, restaurants, multifamily housing units, as well as single units are classified as MSW (municipal solid waste).

How does solid waste affect environmental sustainability?

Solid Waste Management is very important to sustainability in the developed world, since places like the US and North Carolina produces huge amount of solid waste annually, while land available for landfill sites is limited. With depleting landfill capacity within the state, currently North Carolina exports its waste to other states. This would not only impose costs to the local governments, thus their people, but also suggests unsustainable solid waste management practice in the counties. Further, it may suggest that North Carolinians are less responsible for their development. 
            Our government requires industry and municipal waste to make efforts to reduce the amount of waste by encouraging recycling, reducing wasteful, packaging of products, and introducing products that are more environmentally sound. Counties in North Carolina are required to record and post the annual MSW generated in tonnage or tonnage per capita and percent recycled within each county.  This provides people with information on how their county’s solid waste management programs work or how they should be. The annual tonnage gives the amount of waste collected in tons for a year, which can then be compared to other counties’ data and previous years’ records in the county. The tonnage per capita gives the amount of waste collected in tons per year divided by that year’s county population, which tells how much waste is generated per person in that county. Also, the percent recycled for each county gives the percentage of the total waste collected that was recycled, which allows people to see how active a county’s residents participate in the North Carolina recycling program.

What are the sub-attributes of solid waste?

The links below take you to the solid waste databases. 

Waste in Tons per County

            Amount of Waste per Capita

            Percent Waste Recycled

            Percent Waste Amount Changed


What other indicators should be considered?

These solid waste indicators are only one part of the attributes on sustainable solid waste management practice in a county, leaving the industrial and hazardous wastes part untouched. Further inclusion of these categories of wastes may provide complete picture of sustainable waste management practice.

Next step?

Examine the solid waste sub-attribute databases. 


Author: Justin Strickland and edited by Elisa Mayes