What Is Municipal Solid Waste?

Did you know that about 11.2 billion tons of solid waste get collected around the world each year? Municipal solid waste (MSW), in turn, accounts for a huge chunk of all that waste.

As such, it’s imperative you know what MSW is, the types you produce, and their proper disposal. We’ll give you the basics in this guide, so be sure to keep reading.

What Is Municipal Solid Waste?

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is what most of us refer to as garbage or trash. It includes non-hazardous solid refuse, like old clothes, bottles, newspapers, and food scraps. Product packaging, non-working appliances, batteries, and garden clippings are also types of MSW.

What Are the Impacts of MSW?

Many types of MSW are non-biodegradable or takes a long time to degrade. As a result, they can contribute to air, land, and water pollution.

Plastic is a perfect example; some plastic bags take 10 to 20 years to degrade, while others take 500 to 1,000 years. Moreover, plastic bottles take an average of 450 years to degrade. That’s also why they end up in sky-high piles in dumpsites and even make their way into marine waters.

Aside from slow degradation rates, inorganic MSW can also leach toxic chemicals. For example, electronic waste (AKA e-waste) can exude heavy metals like lead and arsenic. These can poison the land, water, plants, animals, and, yes, humans.

Then, there are the organic types of MSW, which folks in the US create 70 million tons each year. Such consumer rubbish, which includes food refuse, emits harmful gases during decomposition. Methane gas is an example; it’s a greenhouse gas (GHG) contributing to global warming.

For those reasons, proper MSW disposal and management practices are so important. Without these practices, the world can become too polluted and dangerous to live in.

How Do You Properly Dispose Of and Manage MSW?

Non-biodegradable, inorganic, and organics recycling is a key component of proper MSW management. Recycling, in turn, is the process of recovering useful materials from trash. From there, the recovered materials go into making new products.

With proper recycling, you can help trim the number of raw materials used to make new products. Some recycling programs even incentivize consumers by paying them for their recycling efforts. Ask your city’s sanitation agency about these programs that let you make some cash with trash.

You can also create your own compost using food scraps and garden trimmings. It’s pretty intricate, though, so be sure to you know how composting works first. However, once you nail it, you can use the composting material as a natural fertilizer.

Lastly, be sure to ask your local provider of solid waste services about the types of MSW they collect. Have them educate you on the stuff that you need to separate from your typical trash. These include specific types of batteries and hazardous waste, such as chemicals.

Don’t Take MSW Lightly

All of us will always generate municipal solid waste, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to create more and more of it. Otherwise, it won’t be long before the earth turns into a world of trash. So, as early as today, mind your MSW production, and take steps to reduce it.

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