11.2 The advantages of ISWM
Introducing ISWM means adopting all of the beneficial practices that have been described in previous study sessions and ensuring that they all work together effectively. It has a number of advantages for the different sectors of society. Here are some examples:
- Reduction and reuse at source – reducing waste at the source and reusing wastes means that less waste has to be collected. This lowers costs for residents, businesses and the local authority. Also, the pollution generated in transporting the waste and at the disposal site is reduced. Waste reduction and reuse means that there is less pollution from manufacturing and a reduced need to import goods. Finally, society benefits because people have the use of items that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
- Waste separation at source – many ISWM schemes require householders and businesses to separate reusable and recyclable materials from the rest of the waste and sort them by type (Figure 11.2). This helps to make people more aware of what they throw away and means that the material separated for recycling is of a higher quality and has a higher selling price. In alternative schemes, where recyclable materials are extracted from mixed wastes at the transfer station, there is a greater health risk to those who do this work and also to those who work in the recycling industry.
- Recycling – like reduction and reuse, recycling has benefits outside the waste management system. Recycling reduces the need to extract raw materials from the ground or to import them. Producing metals, glass and paper from waste materials rather than raw materials consumes far less energy. Also in common with reduction and reuse, recycling means less waste is sent to landfill, giving further reductions in pollution.
- Organic waste recovery – composting organic waste is a form of recycling (see Study Session 9) and has similar benefits to other recycling processes. The amount of waste sent to landfill is reduced and the compost can be used locally to improve soils and the crops grown on them. Organic waste can also be used in anaerobic digesters to produce biogas for cooking and lighting.