Old Problems, New Challenges
Chapter 7: Solid waste collection and disposal utilities
Municipal solid waste (MSW) is waste generated by households and commercial sources that is collected and either recycled, incinerated, or disposed of in MSW landfills that are approved and monitored by the EPA and local environmental and health authorities. The EPA divides municipal waste into four broad categories: containers and packaging, yard wastes, durable goods, and nondurable goods. Examples of durable goods, which are expected to last longer than three years, include appliances, tires, batteries, and electronic equipment. Nondurable goods, which are expected to last less than three years, include newspapers, clothing, disposable tableware, office paper, wood pallets, and diapers (plastic diapers at one time were said to last for a hundred years or longer). MSW does not include dried and sanitized sludge from domestic sewage or other municipal wastewater treatment residues. Also not accepted in sanitary landfills are demolition and construction debris, agricultural and mining residues, combustion ash, and wastes from industrial processes. Although these types of waste, known collectively as industrial solid waste, are largely excluded from hazardous waste regulation; some other agency general regulations do apply. Most highly regulated are toxic and other hazardous wastes.Rather than being directly under federal regulations specifying how solid wastes should be managed, solid-waste programs are managed by states and municipalities on the local level according to individual community needs. The EPA’s waste control role is limited to setting national goals and standards, providing leadership and technical assistance, and developing and disseminating educational materials. Landfills are located and designed according to federally...
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