Metropolitan & industrial wastes, environment and the society

Presence and disposal of metropolitan & industrial wastes influence the environment considerably. Sometimes, this influence is significant. We have to keep in mind the environment ethics and long term safety of the society  in producing and in dealing with wastes.

Metropolitan & industrial wastes, environment and the societyWastes are unwanted material. Wastes are of several types. Important types of wastes are solid waste, liquid waste, gaseous waste, recyclable waste and hazardous waste.

There are four major methods of waste disposal which are briefed below.
1. Incineration: This is thermal or heat treatment to reduce the volumes of wastes by up to 80%. Disadvantage of incineration is increase in air pollution.
2. Landfills: This is a common method of waste disposal. It consumes the land. Rotting of wastes in landfills releases carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere.
3. Composting: This is an important method to transform selected wastes into fertilisers for gardening and agriculture.
4. Recycling/Reuse: This is the most useful method of waste disposal. This method employs wastes to the human benefits. Its capacity is limited.  Research is being actively done for the expansion of this method. It can take us closer to the ideal destination of zero waste society.

Earth is the only planet in the universe, known to harbor life.  Earth is our home, we must keep it clean and safe for human life and biodiversity. Human activities on the Earth produce several types of water.

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We should limit the production of wastes,  and find ways to recycle and dispose them safely. Presence of waste around us and its improper disposal can have a number  serious consequences affecting our lives undesirably.

The term Environment normally refers to air, water and soil, as depicted in Figure below. Life is strongly linked to the safe environment. Undesirable changes in the environment can deeply harm life, so they must be monitored with precision to maintain life-fit environment.

Central specific ethical issues related to wastes, environment and the society are summarized here as a set of  questions:

1. Can we make our society as a zero waste society?  2. How can we minimize waste production in waste producing activities? 3. How can we recycle wastes? 4. What are the hazards of a specific waste produced?

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5. What is the best way to separate or classify wastes? 6. What are the best ways to dispose different wastes? 7. How will the disposed wastes influence the environment? 8. What are the long and short term implications of wastes for the society? 9. How can we reshape our society to minimise the undesirable implications of wastes?

We must discover and invent useful knowledge and methods to meet the challenges of disposal of metropolitan and industrial wastes.


Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Rana

Mukhtar does research on Instrumentation, Physics, and Environmental Science.

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