Waste Management

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Although our industrial society produces a variety of solid wastes and waste waters, over the past 50 years we have made progress in disposing of them safely in landfills, by incineration, and in underground injection wells. Many wastes are also increasingly recycled or reused.

Basics

An old computer recycling farm in the Midwest. Image Credit: USGS/Photo by Carl Orazio.

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.[1] Waste management can also provide economic opportunity: generating energy from landfill gas; recycling to produce new materials from used plastic, paper, glass, or metal; or composting to produce rich soil from yard and food waste.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute

Latest News

Earth
(2017-05-18)
April 26, 2017 The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on April 26 to examine a discussion draft of a bill that would amend certain provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) to streamline management and licensing processes for nuclear waste disposal...
An earthquake-resistant pipeline crossing the San Andreas Fault at Cholame, California. Image Copyright © Michael Collier http://www.earthscienceworld.org/images
(2016-12-05)
On Thursday and Friday, December 1-2, the National Academies' Roundtable on Unconventional Hydrocarbons held a workshop on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development: Legacy Issues, Induced Seismicity, and Innovations in Managing Risk. The meeting brought together experts from industry, academia, state...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Cover of AGI Factsheet 2017-001 - Recycling as a source of mineral commodities

Why Recycle? Recycling saves energy, money, materials, and natural resources, while reducing landfill use. It supplements the national supply of essential materials, reducing dependence on imports. As more minerals and materials become critically important - particularly in advanced technologies...

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GOLI Online Courses

GOLI Course: Making Produced Water More Productive; Image credit: USGS/ Doug Duncan
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Geoscience is essential to our understanding and management of produced water, an inevitable byproduct of oil and gas development. This course provides a scientific and regulatory background of produced water, how it is commonly disposed, what opportunities exist for the re-use of produced water...

GOLI Course: Induced Seismicity in the Mid-Continent; Image credit: USGS
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

This course provides information about induced seismic activity in the United States, specifically in the mid-continent. It includes information on mitigation planning, the state of seismic monitoring at the state level, and the challenges in communicating the science of the issue to the public...

Research Database Publications

Cover of UR-80-07 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1996, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
The purpose of this report is to summarize the geologic data, hydrologic data, and other site characteristics of the De Smet City landfill. This information was compiled as a part of the Statewide Landfill Study.
Cover of OFR2014-1 ; Source: Oklahoma Geological Survey
2014, Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS)
Water and energy resources are fundamentally connected and have created what some refer to as the energy-water or water-energy nexus. A common goal of water and energy management is to maximize the supply of one while minimizing the use of the other. Water management in Oklahoma has become an...
Cover of UR-80-26 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1996, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
The purpose of this report is to summarize the geologic data, hydrologic data, and other site characteristics of the Yanktown County landfill. This information was compiled as a part of the Statewide Landfill Study.
Cover of UR-80-01 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1996, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
The purpose of this report is to summarize the geologic data, hydrologic data, and other site characteristics of the Belle Fourche City landfill. This information was compiled as a part of the Statewide Landfill Study.
Cover of UR-58 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1989, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
This project was undertaken in 1984 by the South Dakota Geological Survey, South Dakota Department of Water and Natural Resources, to assess the geologic and hydrologic suitability of the Sioux Falls sanitary landfill site (SwY4 sec. 3S, T. 101 N., R. Sl W.) for continued use (fig. 1). The results...
Cover of UR-80-11 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1996, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
The purpose of this report is to summarize the geologic data, hydrologic data, and other site characteristics of the John Clements landfill. This information was compiled as a part of the Statewide Landfill Study.
Cover of sir20165122; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Namskaket Marsh and its tidal creek system are potential receptors for a treated wastewater plume originating from a septage treatment facility in the northwest part of Orleans, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. From 1989 to 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with State and local partners,...
Cover of UR-55 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1988, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
This report contains the results of an investigation conducted by the South Dakota Geological Survey for the city of Brookings to determine the suitability of a site for use as a municipal sanitary landfill. The study was financed by the city of Brookings and the state of South Dakota.
Cover of OF87-01; Source: Colorado Geological Survey
1987, Colorado Geological Survey (CGS)
This report sets forth the general requirements for the establishment and execution of an inspection program for a low-level waste disposal facility in Colorado. The purpose of the inspection program, conducted by the State of Colorado, is to assure that the disposal facility is sited, designed,...
Cover of UR-80-02 ; Source: South Dakota Geological Survey
1996, South Dakota Geological Survey (SDGS)
The purpose of this report is to summarize the geologic data, hydrologic data, and other site characteristics of the Brookings City landfill. This information was compiled as a part of the Statewide Landfill Study.