What is municipal solid waste & how does Canada manage it?

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What is municipal solid waste & how does Canada manage it?

What is municipal solid waste and how does Canada manage it?
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Highlights

  • Municipal solid waste includes various organic and inorganic waste that comes from residential and industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) sources
  • Modern incineration is a kind of thermal waste treatment option that is considered effective for discarding a variety of wastes
  • Municipal governments are liable to collect and dispose of recyclables, household hazardous and non-hazardous waste

Municipal solid waste (MSW) includes everyday items such as clothing, bottles, paint, food, and furniture. It is trash or garbage which is disposed of at the municipal waste disposal site and is used and discarded by commercial, construction, residential, and institutional sectors.

Today, in this article, we will learn of municipal solid waste and Canada's effort towards the management of municipal solid waste.

 

What is municipal solid waste?

Municipal solid waste includes various organic and inorganic waste that comes from residential and industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) sources. Shopping malls, hospitals, office buildings, and schools could be sources of ICI waste.

Residential and industrial sources can be food waste, plastics, chemical manufacturing waste, petroleum refining waste, and petrochemicals.

Household hazardous waste can include toxic, environmentally hazardous, or explosive waste such as pharmaceuticals, mercury-containing products, pesticides/herbicides, and others.

MSW can include the wastes from the following

  • Organic waste (includes biodegradable and compostable wastes).
  • Residual materials (includes non-recyclable or non-compostable waste).
  • Construction, renovation, and demolition (includes wood, asphalt roofing, and drywall waste).
  • Recyclables (includes plastics, metals, paper, and cardboard waste).

Also read: What is Canada doing about plastic waste?

How does Canada manage municipal solid waste?

The provincial and territorial authorities in Canada have introduced waste reduction policies and programs. The authorities are also engaged in monitoring waste management facilities such as composting, landfills, and incinerators. The municipalities collect, dispose of, recycle, and compost household waste.

Waste that requires final disposal, is done so using landfilling and incineration treatment options which affect the environment by emitting pollutants in air and water. But now the harmful effects of waste disposal can be reduced by using advanced pollution control technologies and modern engineering methods.

 

Landfills

Modern municipal solid waste landfills are developed for reducing the social and natural environmental impacts. But this method is not appropriate for the disposal of hazardous waste as such waste should be discarded in hazardous waste landfills. Hazardous waste landfills are responsible for establishing extra environmental safety measures.

Incineration

Modern incineration is a kind of thermal waste treatment option that is considered effective for discarding a variety of wastes. Now incinerators are using advanced air pollution controls and technologies for eliminating 99 per cent of dioxins and furans released from incineration. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) has introduced Canada-wide standards for dioxins/furans and mercury emitted from waste incineration.

Canada uses different types of incinerators for disposing wastes, including

  • Waste-to-energy facilities
  • Municipal wastewater sludge incinerators
  • Hazardous waste incinerators
  • Biomedical incinerators

Also read: 7 Canadian stocks combating climate change

Disposing of specific items or wastes in Canada

Municipal governments are liable to collect and dispose of recyclables, household hazardous and non-hazardous waste. To manage certain kinds of waste, provinces and territories can use Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs.

These programs help in disposing or recycling a wide range of products, including mercury-containing products, beverage containers, agricultural, automotive, pharmaceuticals, electronic and electric equipment (EEE) products.

For manage end-of-life EEE, Canada uses EPR programs.

 

Management of electronic and electrical equipment

Electronic waste (e-waste) can include environmentally hazardous or toxic substances which can put human health as well as the environment at risk if it is not disposed of properly. The provinces and territories in Canada manage disposing of electronic waste. Most of them have established EPR regulations for managing e-waste.

Management of pharmaceutical wastes

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are usually found in the environment and drinking water. These consist of expired, unused, and natural health care products. One should not dump PPCP waste in regular garbage or flush it down in a toilet or sink.

To secure and protect Canadian health, proper disposal of PPCPs is required. Provinces and territories have implemented product stewardship programs for collecting unwanted or expired medication to conserve the environment and manage PPCP waste.

 Different types of incinerators.

Image credit: © 2022 Kalkine Media® 

Bottom line

Municipal solid waste can include dangerous substances such as radioactive materials, volatile organic compounds, and pharmaceuticals which can adversely affect the environment and human health. So, preventing and controlling municipal solid waste through composting and recycling methods, saying no to plastic bags and using two dustbins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, is needed.

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