| This article originated from the Critical Issues Program authored by the American Geosciences Institute.
To learn more about AGI or the Critical Issues Program, visit http://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues.
An essential goal of waste management is to dispose of waste without contaminating water, soil, and air. Many wastes are disposed of safely in engineered landfills, by incineration, and in underground injection wells. All of these processes of waste management are monitored and regulated closely. Waste management can also provide economic opportunity: generating energy from landfill gas, recycling new materials from used plastic or metal, or composting rich soil from yard and food waste.
Why does waste management matter?
Safe waste management is essential in a world with increasing amounts of waste – from plastic trash to industrial waste water. Without proper management, solid and water wastes can have a number of impacts on public health and ecosystems.
How does geoscience help?
Geoscientists help design systems to dispose of waste safely – whether in the air, on the surface, or beneath the ground. They also help to locate safe sites for waste management and study the impacts of waste underground and at the surface.
- Wastes, Environmental Protection Agency
- Web articles on resource conservation, hazardous waste, and non-hazardous waste.
- Injection Wells, Environmental Protection Agency
- Brief web article in question-answer format on what underground injection wells are used for, what they are injected with, how wells are categorized and regulated, and links to regulators in each state.
- The Science of Waste Management, Waste Management, Inc.
- A fact sheet on the science of landfill management and the use of methane gas, a by-product of trash decomposition, as an energy source.
- Environmental Protection Agency, "Laws and Regulations", http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/laws-regs/index.htm, accessed August 20, 2014
- Waste Management Basics, American Geosciences Institute
- Weather hazards