Waste Management Challenges and Solutions

Waste Management

Do you ever wonder what happens to your waste after you dispose of them? Well, most cities and countries have some sort of waste management system. The waste management system is supposed to create effect disposal of waste in the city. Depending on where you live, there could be different waste management systems and challenges. Like most systems, the waste management works but is not perfect. There are still many challenges and as the world is constantly changing, waste management should too. Let us take a look at the different waste management challenges there are, and what are some solutions to the waste management challenges.

Waste Management Challenge

The nowadays waste development system has brought Europe to produce 64.4 million tons of every year, which in total have a value of 355 billion euros and of which only a third is recycled. This entails very high disposal costs, just think that at the European level the only cost for cleaning the beaches is 630 million euros, while at the global level we reach 13 billion a year (Operate.it, 2018). The challenge of managing the waste management efficiently and cost effective is a big one. In addition, there are other challenges to what to do with the excessive amount of plastic trash, how to encourage people to reduce waste and organize waste properly. While some of these challenges can be fixed by individuals changing their lifestyle, some waste management challenges require reforms from the society and the government. This is where circular economy comes, a great way to solve the waste management challenges that we are seeing now.

Circular Economy vs Waste Management Challenges?

Waste management challenges: overflowing landfill
Circular Economy represents an excellent solution to all these waste management challenges, in fact, a fair investment in the circular waste management sector could generate a profit, both in monetary and social terms. This green development system, based on circular economy, aims to reduce most of the waste generated by citizens’ buildings and by the production processes, utilizing waste as a source of investment, considering trash as a secondary raw material which is basically recycled waste transformed into a new building source.
Buildings can be a waste optimization themselves, just by being built with secondary raw materials.
Adding strategic waste management policies to this kind of green architecture, will allow the complex of buildings (and so, the city itself), to avoid the production of waste, reducing costs, pollution and empowering environmental and social benefits.
Let us take a closer look at the different ways we can tackle the waste management challenges through circular economy.

Waste Management Challenge’s Solutions

Here are 3 solutions to waste management challenges that we are going to discuss down below. Now without further ado, let get into it.

The PAYT system: Paying to Fix Waste Management Challenges

The PAYT (Pay as You Throw) fee system instead introduces an innovative way to increase a positive approach to the circular economy and rewards the virtuous behavior of citizens. The PAYT fee in fact is not to be considered as a tax, set regardless of the good or bad practices implemented by the citizen, but rather as a quote whose amount is to be determined on the basis of the amount of waste generated, in order to reward those who contribute most to separate waste collection.

Thanks to the PAYT system, every citizen has the opportunity to decrease the payment of the waste tax which is a great way to tackle waste management challenges. Everyone is inevitably encouraged not only to differentiate more but also to produce less waste, applying and improving good circular economy practices day by day . To ensure that less waste is produced, there will consequently be a tendency to ensure that the life cycle of the products purchased is always greater, thus avoiding the purchase of disposable products, instead opting for more durable and, where possible, biodegradable objects (since they would to have less influence on the calculation of the waste generated).

In conclusion, the reductions in CO2 emissions and general environmental impacts would be obvious, improving the quality of the soil, the ecosystem and consequently the health of citizens. Thus, making PAYT a great way to encourage more people to take part in waste management and tackling the challenges.

Technology tackling Waste Management Challenges: Smart Garbage Bins

An innovative technology is represented by the smart garbage bins inside the urban area, especially on the buildings’ floors, this waste collection system can prove to be very useful from an environmental point of view, but even more, as we are about to read, from an economic point of view. For some years, intelligent bins have been put on the market, invented, made and exhibited at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Types of similar bins are spreading massively especially in Europe.

The smart baskets are common bins for the collection of waste, which are transformed with robotics technologies and equipped with measuring systems of some quantities such as the weight of the collected material, the volume of the same material, the internal temperature and humidity. Normally the waste collection takes place without any measurement of the collected material and without any immediate information of the disposition of the bins, of their use, of their actual operation. The measurements recorded by the intelligent bins, on the other hand, arrive via the Internet with GPRS (one of the cellular mobile phone technologies) to a coordination center that processes them and sends the information to the Collection Center. The advantage, compared to common bins, is evident in that the transparency of use, efficiency and the saving of unnecessary strokes of the trucks for collection are noted if a bin is empty and above all a transparent and clear management of the collection and costs, inevitably reducing the management cost ofthe waste collection agency (energiamedia.it, 2019).
Among the cities that have inserted smart bins within their Municipality are Milan and Florence, which have experienced more than positive effects. These smart garabine bins can be a turning point of fixing waste management challenges.

Solution for the Future: Recycled plastic buildings

Future clean building to help tackle the waste management challenges
Last but not least, recycled plastic building is a great way to solve the waste management challenges. Recycled plastic in the future could help make buildings more solid and reduce the environmental impact, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, of the cement industry. Students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a method of integrating plastic into concrete and making it more resistant. The team found that by exposing plastic “flakes” to small and harmless gamma radiation and finely pulverizing them, it is possible to mix them with cement paste to produce concrete up to 20% stronger than conventional concrete.

After water, the researchers explain, concrete is the second most used material on the planet and from its production comes about 4.5% of man-made CO2 emissions in the world. So “replacing even a small amount of concrete with the plastic thus irradiated could help reduce the global carbon footprint of the cement industry” (Operate.it, 2018). The environmental benefit is just one of the positive effects generated by such a plastic recycle, reinforce concrete in fact can lengthen the life cycle and durability of our buildings, avoiding a lot of works of maintenance and, of course, the consequently high costs.

This solution is currently a challenge, but if achieved it can fix even bigger issues and challenges. A little investment in the circular waste management in our cities could bring to such a reinforcement, would let stakeholders and building companies avoid lots of their building and maintenance costs. In addition, there would be a positive “indirect” effect on the Municipality costs, because waste management would be obviously less expensive: waste storage would be always more and more unnecessary, because lot of the trash will be used for the concrete, and the past “trash” areas will become spaces available for building investments, creating huge profits.

In Conclusion

Waste Management Challenges - properly disposing and effectively
In order to tackle the challenge of current waste management, we need to take a closer look at the issue at hand. What should we do with the excess trash that we currently, but also take a look at how we should reduce the amount future waste. With our current knowledge of circular economy, we can easily tackle the waste management challenges. It is important to take these waste management challenges fast on and as soon as possible. Individually, we can help with waste management challenges by being aware of the current issues and advocate for waste management reforms, reduce person waste, recycle properly, and so on. I hope you enjoyed this article about waste management and challenges. In addition, I hope this inspires you to look into your local waste management more and see if there is anything you can do to help.

OPERATE, Redazione. “L’Istat Comincia a Pubblicare Gli Indici Sui Costi Di Gestione Rifiuti.” 15 Apr. 2019. Web. 20 Oct. 2020.
“Cassonetti Intelligenti, Un’idea Geniale. E a Milano Il Cestino Diventa “smart”.” Energia Media. 22 Mar. 2017. Web. 20 Oct. 2020.
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!