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blog: Integrated Solid Waste Management

Pallavi Mukerjee
Vail CO, Colorado

A Recap: Last week I couldn’t write a blog as I was laid up at home with an injured ankle. For those readers who faithfully read my blog each week, here is a quick recap. In my last blog, we talked about the problems associated with improper solid waste management and that planning and implementing a comprehensive program for waste management (collection, transport, and disposal) can reduce/eliminate the above problems.

What is Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM)? It is a comprehensive waste prevention, recycling, composting, and disposal program. A good ISWM system considers how to prevent, recycle, and manage solid waste in ways that protect human health and the environment. ISWM involves evaluating local needs and conditions, and then selecting the most appropriate waste management activities for these conditions.

Major Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) Activities: The major ISWM activities are:



– Waste Prevention,

– Recycling



– Composting,

– Combustion and disposal, in properly designed, constructed and managed landfills.

Waste Prevention: This is also known as ‘source reduction.’ It seeks to prevent waste from being generated in the first place. Some examples of waste prevention include less packaging, designing products to last longer, and reusing products and materials.



Benefits of Waste Prevention: Waste prevention helps reduce handling, treatment, and disposal cost. It also reduces generation of methane.

Recycling: It involves collecting, reprocessing, and/or revering certain waste materials (glass, plastic, wood, paper, metal etc) to make new materials or products.

Composting: Some recycled organic materials are rich in nutrients and can be used to improve soils. The conversion of waste materials into soil additives is called composting.

Benefits of Recycling and Composting: They create jobs and income, supply valuable raw material to the industry, produce good quality compost, help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the quantity of waste disposed at landfills.

Disposal: This activity is used to manage waste that can’t be prevented or recycled. One way to dispose of waste is to place it in a properly designed, constructed, managed landfill. Another way to handle this waste is through combustion, which is controlled burning of waste to reduce its volume. Combustion facilities produce steam and water as a by product which can be used to generate energy.

Next week we will discuss ‘Waste Prevention/Source Reduction’ in greater detail …

Pallavi Mukerjee can be reached at Pallavi.Mukerjee@eaglecounty.us.


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