Solid, Toxic, and Hazardous Waste

USA makes _____% world's waste

  • 2/3 ton/yr/person which comes to 4.5 lbs/person a day!
  • That's twice the amt of Europe and Japan, 10 x more than other ______________ countries
  • most common method of disposal= least desirable
    • all waste is ___________ together- food, paper, hazardous, plastics (decompose to PCB and dioxins)

Old School Waste Management

Ocean Dumps

  • _________ in US (hooray!), but common in most countries (boo!)
    • Until recently, NYC dumped its sewage, municipal and industrial waste, in the ocean off Long Island.
  • 55 million lbs/yr of packaging are dumped into ocean
  • 330 million lbs/yr of fishing gear lost or discarded
  • Deadly to _________ life (ex. seals get entangled in fishing nets) :(
  • Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988- includes sewage sludge, industrial waste.
  • Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the size of Texas


  • Fate of _______ municipal solid waste (60%)
  • Percentage of waste by weight in US
    • #1. Paper- 38% (2 million trees/day used)
    • #2. Yard/ Food- 25%
    • #3. Metal- 8%
    • #4. Plastic- 8% (One million years to decompose)
    • #5. Glass- 7%
  • Past method- trash buried with an "impermeable" lining (______, _______)
    • prevents pollution of aquifer by leaching of rainwater through _____, chemical compounds, and _____ metals. It's supposed to anyway.
    • Many aquifers already ______ from leachate from batteries, pesticides, paint cans, smoke detectors (radioactive)
    • covered with 6"soil/day to prevent rodents and toxins leaching downward
  • New "Sanitary" landfills are engineered to avoid ___________ contamination
    • fabulous setting: must now be set on stable, impermeable bedrock, away from streams, rivers, lakes etc.
    • bottom liner: double lined with plastic liners made of high __________ polyethylene will only be degraded by household chemicals (like moth balls, margarine, vinegar and booze) so it lasts longer.
    • Leachate Collection System: toxic fluids seep to bottom of landfill where they are collected by complex ________ pipes
  • Methane gas, a by product of decomposing waste, is burned for __________ energy
  • Once very effective, landfills are now ________ landhogs- $10 billion/year to bury trash
  • Running out of space


  • Is there an "away"?
  • "Garbage imperialism" and NIMBY
    • Hazardous and toxic waste often sent to _______, un-educated communities or countries
      • ex. American Indians, Africa
    • ____ _______ plastics calamity- $3 million bribe for dumping toxic incinerator waste in Cambodia. Caused nerve damage and deaths.
  • Trashy life in Manila, Phillipines- Smoky Mountain, 20,000 people live off the trash
  • A solution- make asphalt or concrete filler for __________ filled with "recycled" toxic waste. Excellent... er, until it breaks down...



  • Volume of waste reduced once burned_____%
  • 45,000 tons/day burned in US
  • Energy (electricity) produced as by product of burning refuse- ______ or ________
    • Called Waste-to-Energy and a lot of people are really excited about this.


  • Mass burn- throw everything in smaller than Volkswagon.
    • Many toxins are put into ______________
      • ex. dioxins (#1 source of dioxin in world), mercury, lead, cadmium, PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
    • Residual ash is highly toxic too- sent to a _________
  • Expensive to build ($100-$300 million) and operate


  • Refuse-dervied fuel or Waste-to-Energy Plant- some incinerators remove ________ and _________ first for cleaner burn. Expensive.
    • Called Refuse Derived Fuel because trash burns hotter when ________
    • Rest of trash is sent to landfill.


The three R's: re______, re______, re______

Reduction and Reuse

  • Reduce- make _________ stuff to begin with
    • packaging unneccesary (mostly advertising not protecting product)
    • less junk mail- oh please!
    • use the internet
  • Reuse is simply re-using an item
    • Shop at Sals!
    • Compose kitchen wastes
    • Fleece jackets out of plastic _______ bottles. Hold the PVC's

Recycling - ITS A GOOD THING

  • Recycling is re-processing discarded materials (ex. aluminum, plastic, tires, glass and newspapers)
    • 2/3 aluminum is now being recycled- cuts bauxite ore by 95%
    • bottles may be reforged as bottles
    • tires may be turned into roadways or _____________!
  • Benefits include more efficent use of non-renewable resources
    • cheaper method of waste disposal- $35/ton versus $80/ton to bury it
    • less air and water pollution
    • cuts waste volume in landfill

EPA ranks best strategy for Muncipal Solid Waste (MSW):

      1. Source ___________ (including reuse)
      2. Recycling and ___________ (food waste)
      3. _____________
      4. Landfilling

Intergrated Waste Management!

All four methods used simultaneously in the attempt to reduce landfill contributions


Hazardous (Solid) Waste

Anything that is ______ in low doses, flammable, reactive, corrosive or toxic when in the environment.

  • 60 million tons of hazardous waste created a year in US.
    • 70% from chemical and petroleum industries
  • One gallon of gas can contaminate __________ gallons of fresh water!

Types of Hazardous waste

  • Corrosive- to _________
  • Ignitable- easily catches fire
  • Reactive- chemically __________ or reacts with other compounds resulting in ___________
  • Toxic- creates health risks when inhaled or _____________.

The EPA categorizes radioactive waste according to its origin.

  • Nuclear reactor-high
  • Waste from spent nuclear fuel- high
  • Waste from making nuclear weapons- _________
  • Waste from mining and processing uranium- _________
  • Radioactive waste from industry and research- _________


The fate of hazardous waste

  • 3 main ways:
    • Surface impoundment- create a shallow pool and let the hazardous waste ____________.
    • Deep well injection- drilling a hole below the water table and an _____________ layer, add hazardous waste
    • Placed in permanent storage in secure landfill
  • Other less common methods
    • Recycling!
    • Converted to _________ hazardous form- better
    • Bioremediation- using bacteria and enzyme to break down hazardous materials and Phytoremediation- using plants to absorb or break down wastes and contaminants
      • ex. Brassica for ________ and sunflowers for ______________
    • Burned at ________ temperature
    • Buried in deep Salt Formations which lacks flowing water.
    • Low level nuclear waste is stored __________ until the radioactivity has ___________ or shipped to a low level waste disposal facility.

Not a solution:

  • "Temporarily" locate in Brownfields- polluted properties that have been ___________ because of ______________
  • Store high-level radioactive waste at nuclear power plants where they were _______. In the near future, nuclear power plants will _______ ________ of storage space.
  • Move high-level radioactive waste to ________ ___________. Between the fault lines and vulnerable water table, Yucca mountain is a controversial solution. Also, Nevada has no _________ ___________ plants so they are very _____________ about taking other state's nuclear waste.


Contaminated Waste site solution

Superfund Program

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund Act of 1980- highly polluted abandoned waste site are (supposed to be) undergoing rapid containment, _______________ and remediation using a pool of money called the ______________. Presently the right to tax chemical and petroleum companies to pay for the clean up has expired. Our tax money is paying for the clean up now.

  • There are 36,000 sites in US
  • Case studies:
    • Hudson River- GE dumped ____________'s in river
    • Love Canal, near Niagara Falls, NY- 1970s. Hooker Chemical dumped 20,000 tons of ___________ waste in ditch. Sold to ___________ and 100 homes built over it. Basements had smelly liquids leaking into it. Kids had burning hands and faces after playing outdoors. Trees died and clusters of cancers and birth defects all occured above the filled in canal.
    • Rocky Flats, Colorado- site of nuclear weapons manufacture. Groundwater contained plutonium, uranium and more.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976. Requires all hazardous waste to be tracked from CRADLE to ____________- shippers, generators and ______________.

Long Term Storage

  • It has to go somewhere other than ocean or regular landfill
    • permanent _____________ storage- place in storage containers in buiding or cavern to be inspected and retrieved if necessary.
    • non-retrievable storage- a ______________ landfill. Place on thick bottom layer of clay, gravel, and ______________.