You are on page 1of 3

Solid waste Pollution:

Solid waste is that material which arises from various human activities and is
normally discarded as useless or unwanted. It consists of discarded materials
from the urban community as well as accumulation of agriculture, industrial, and
mining wastes. The quality of solid waste generated in some major cities of India
is very high. Thus crores of rupees are being spent on solid waste management.
Moreover, in some cases such as cans, bottles, plastic containers, tyres etc. are
considered cheaper to throw away than to reclaim. This has increased the
generation of solid waste many folds.

Solid waste can be classified on the basis of content or moisture basis or on the
basis of heating value.
A typical classification is given:
1. Garbage:

This is the putrescible solid waste produced during the preparation or

storage of meat, fruit, vegetables, etc. This waste has a moisture content
of about 70% and heating value of around

6 X 106 J/kg. It may contain

valuable minerals and nutrients.

2. Rubbish:

It is a non-putrescible solid waste. It can either be combustible (such as

paper, wood, rubber, etc.) or non-combustible (such as metals, glass,
ceramics, etc.) The water content is about 25% and the heating value of
the waste is around 15 X 106 J/kg.

3. Pathological waste:

Dead animals, humans etc constitute pathological waste. It has a moisture

content of 85% and a heating value of around 2.5 X 106 J/kg. The waste
may also include hospital waste which comprises of disposable syringes,
swabs, bandages, body fluids etc. This kind of waste is highly infectious.

4. Industrial waste:

The industrial waste includes the waste from industries. The industrial
wastes include waste from coal or ore mines, electroplating works, textiles
industries, paper industries, oil refineries etc. Industrial waste contains
inorganic or organic pollutants which may or may not be soluble.

5. Agricultural waste:
It includes animal manure, crop residue etc. Herbicides, fungicides, etc
also contribute to agricultural waste.


The principle sources of solid waste are domestic, commercial and industrial and
agricultural activities. Sometimes domestic and commercial wastes are
considered together and called urban wastes. The composition of urban waste
remains similar throughout the world but the amount generated, ratio and the
density of the constituents vary widely from place to place. On the other hand, agricultural
wastes amount to around 2 kg per person per day in India. Waste is referred to as trash, junk,
refuse etc.

Treatment and disposal methods:

The composition of solid waste is not the same everywhere, so the process of
selection of the right solid waste disposal method is a complex one. In rural
areas, agricultural waste forms the major potion of solid waste, whereas in urban
areas, plastic, paper, glass, metal, chemical, food waste etc. are found in large

Several disposal methods are being used in various parts of the world and the
most prominent of these are discussed below:

1. Sanitary Landfills:

Historically landfills have been the main method used to dispose of solid
waste because of their convenience and low maintenance costs.
Landfills are generally located in urban areas where a large amount of
waste is generated and has to be dumped in common place. Unlike an
open dump, it is a pit that is dug in the ground. The garbage is dumped
and the pit is covered thus preventing the breeding of flies and rats. At the
end of each day, a layer of soil is scattered on the top of it and some
mechanism is used to compress the garbage forming a layered structure
which is usually called a cell. After the landfill is full, the area is covered
with a thick layer of mud and the site can thereafter be developed as
parking lot or park.
Landfills have many problems. All types of waste are dumped in landfills
and when water seeps through them, it gets contaminated and in turn
pollutes the surrounding area. This is known as leaching.
Sanitary landfill solves the problem of leaching to some extent. It is more
hygienic and built in methodical manner. These are lined with materials
that are impermeable such as plastics and clay, and are also built over
impermeable soil. The lining materials are called liners.
Drainage systems are setup around and beneath the liner to collect liquids
leaching from garbage and waste. Collected liquids are treated to make
them more environmentally safe.
The landfill operation is essentially a biological method of waste
treatment. The whole process takes place in five phases

• In the first phase aerobic bacteria deplete the available oxygen as a

result of aerobic respiration.
• In second phase anaerobic conditions prevail and H2 and CO2 are
• In phase three and four methane forming bacteria decompose the
matter to methane and CO2. That is why escape vents for gases are
provided in the landfills.
• In phase five the methanogenic activity decreases, representing the
depletion of organic matter and ultimately the system returns to
aerobic conditions within the landfill.