What is waste disposal?

This article discusses the waste disposal process and the various approaches to waste disposal and management. 

What is waste disposal?

The collection, processing, recycling, or depositing of human society’s waste materials is referred to as waste disposal, or waste management. Source and composition of waste are used to classify it. 

Waste materials can be liquid or solid in nature, and their components can have hazardous or non-hazardous effects on human health and the environment. 

Solid waste, sewage (wastewater), hazardous waste, and electronic waste are all commonly referred to as trash.

Municipal liquid waste is channelled through sewage systems in developed countries, where it is treated as wastewater or sewage.

Before wastewater, or sewage, may enter groundwater aquifers or surface waters like rivers, lakes, estuaries, and seas, this procedure eliminates most or all of the contaminants.

Refuse, also known as municipal solid waste (MSW), is nonhazardous solid waste that needs to be collected and transported to a processing or disposal facility. Garbage and waste are examples of refuse. Garbage consists primarily of compostable food waste and dry materials such as glass, paper, cloth, or wood.

Garbage, on the other hand, is extremely putrescible and decomposable, but trash is not. 

Bulky goods like old refrigerators, couches, and massive tree stumps, as well as building and demolition waste, all of which require special collection and processing, are considered trash. Often, refuse is disposed of in hygienic landfills.

Principles of waste management

Waste management revolves around the following principles:

  • Waste minimisation
  • Product lifecycle
  • Resource efficiency
  • Polluter pays principle

We shall discuss them in brief.

Waste minimisation

Waste minimisation is built upon the bedrock of ‘3 Rs’ – reduce, recycle, and reuse.


Simply put, reducing means producing less garbage. The first of the three Rs is the best strategy for keeping the environment clean.

By decreasing, you are able to eliminate the cause of the problem. Making less garbage in the first place implies there will be less rubbish to clean up afterwards.


Reusing is the process of finding new uses for old items that would otherwise be discarded. Fixing, renovating, redecorating, or modifying an object in some manner to improve it or give it a new use are all examples of this.

Refurbishing items is one of the most common ways people reuse them. When you rebuild or redesign an object, you are refurbishing it.

However, you are not required to keep the original item’s purpose in order to reuse it. Some individuals make rags out of discarded clothes like trousers and shirts. 

This process is known as upcycling.Upcycling is the process of repurposing an object for a new function.


The act of separating an object into its constituent parts and reprocessing it to generate a new material or item is known as recycling. 

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new resources that may be used for a variety of purposes.

Recycling takes use of the fact that many ordinary products that we throw away still contain material that may be used for other purposes.

The recyclability of an object is determined by the quantity of original matter that has been restored. In an ideal world, each item might, for example, be completely recycled.

Product lifecycle

The amount of time between when a product is first offered to consumers and when it is removed from the market is known as the product life cycle.

Management and marketing experts use product life cycles to assist define advertising schedules, price points, expansion into new product markets, packaging redesigns, and more.

Product life cycle management refers to these strategic approaches of product support. They can also assist in determining when newer products are ready to displace older ones.

The life cycle of a product is divided into four stages:

  • Market Introduction and Development
  • Market Growth
  • Market Maturity
  • Market Decline

We shall discuss these in brief.

Market introduction and growth

This stage of the product life cycle entails creating a market strategy, which typically entails investing in advertising and marketing to raise consumer awareness of the product and its benefits.

As demand grows, sales are likely to be slow at this point. 

Depending on the complexity of the product, how fresh and original it is, how well it meets client wants, and whether there is any competition in the marketplace, this stage can take a long time to complete.

A new product development that is tailored to the demands of customers is more likely to succeed, but there is plenty of evidence that products can fail at this stage, preventing stage two from being achieved.

For this reason, many companies prefer to follow in the footsteps of an innovative pioneer, improving an existing product and releasing their own version.

Market Growth

If a product successfully navigates the market introduction stage of the life cycle, it is ready to enter the growth stage. As a result of the increased demand, production should expand and the product should become more readily available.

As the product takes off, the steady growth of the market introduction and development stage gives way to a sudden upturn. 

At this stage, competitors may enter the market with their own versions of your product – either exact copies or improved ones. As the consumer has more options, branding becomes more crucial to preserve your position in the marketplace. 

In the face of increased competition, product pricing and availability in the marketplace become critical elements in generating sales.

Market Maturity

Because a product has already established itself in the market, the cost of developing and selling the existing product will decrease. The beginnings of market saturation can be seen as the product life cycle reaches this mature stage. 

Many consumers will have purchased the product by this time, and competitors will have established themselves, making branding, price, and product uniqueness even more critical to maintaining market share. 

Instead of promoting your goods as they could have done in stage one, retailers will become stockists and order takers.

Market Decline

The life cycle will eventually shorten as competition grows, with other companies attempting to mimic your success with more product features or lower prices.

New developments that supplant your present product, such as horse-drawn carriages falling out of favour when the vehicle took over, can also cause decline.

As market saturation means there is no longer any profit to be made, many businesses will begin to diversify into new industries.

Of course, some businesses may survive the downturn and continue to sell the product, but manufacturing will likely be on a smaller scale, and pricing and profit margins will certainly suffer.

Consumers may also abandon a product in favour of a new option, but this can be reversed in some cases, with styles and fashions resurfacing to rekindle interest in an earlier product.

Resource efficiency

Resource efficiency refers to the sustainable use of the Earth’s limited resources while minimising environmental damage. It enables us to produce more with fewer resources and deliver more value with fewer resources.

Many major organisations and NGOs, such as the EU’s The resource-efficient Europe flagship initiative for Europe 2020 vision, and UNEP’s Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) are projects that aim towards improving resource efficiency at a global scale.

Most of their work is carried out by working along national and regional government bodies and NGOs, as well as parties that are directly affected, such as farmers, industries, etc.

Polluter pays principle

The ‘polluter pays’ idea states that people who cause pollution should pay for the costs of removing it in order to avoid harm to human health or the environment.

A factory that creates a potentially dangerous material as a by-product of its operations, for example, is typically held liable for its safe disposal.

The polluter pays principle is part of a larger set of ideas that guide global sustainable development (officially known as the Rio Declaration of 1992).


The collection, processing, recycling, or depositing of human society’s waste materials is referred to as waste disposal, or waste management.

There are four preambles to waste disposal and waste management, which are – 

  • Waste minimisation
  • Product lifecycle
  • Resource efficiency
  • Polluter pays principle


What are the 4 types of waste?

Waste can b e broadly classified into 4 distinctive types of waste. These are:

  • Agricultural waste.
    Agricultural waste is waste that is generated as a result of different agricultural processes. Manure and other wastes from farms, poultry houses, and slaughterhouses are included, as well as harvest waste, fertiliser run-off from fields, pesticides that enter water, air, or soils, and salt and silt drained from fields.
  • Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).
    MSW, often known as trash or rubbish, is made up of ordinary goods such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries that we use and then discard. This is found in our homes, schools, hospitals, and workplaces.
  • Industrial waste.
    Industrial waste is any substance that is rendered unusable during a production process such as that of factories, mills, or mining activities, and it is produced by industrial activity.

    Dirt and gravel, masonry and concrete, scrap metal, oil, solvents, chemicals, scrap lumber, and even vegetable waste from restaurants are examples of industrial waste.

    Industrial waste can come in the form of solids, semi-solids, or liquids. Hazardous waste (some of which are toxic) or non-hazardous waste are both possibilities.

    Industrial waste can contaminate groundwater, lakes, streams, rivers, and coastal waterways, as well as harm the soil and neighbouring water bodies.

    Because industrial trash is frequently intermingled with municipal waste, precise estimates are difficult to come by.
  • Hazardous Waste
    Hazardous waste is defined as waste that poses a significant or possible risk to human health or the environment.

    Hazardous wastes that exhibit one or more of the following hazardous characteristics are known or tested as characteristic hazardous wastes:
    • Ignitability
    • Reactivity
    • Corrosivity
    • Toxicity
    • Listed hazardous wastes are materials that have been designated as hazardous wastes by regulatory bodies and come from a variety of sources, including non-specific sources, specified sources, and abandoned chemical products.

Hazardous wastes can exist in a variety of physical states, including gaseous, liquid, and solid. 

Hazardous waste is distinct from other wastes in that it cannot be disposed of in the same manner as other by-products of our daily life. 

Treatment and solidification techniques may be necessary depending on the physical state of the waste.


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