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 to produce new materials from used plastic, paper, glass, or metal; or composting to produce 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.
1Environmental Protection Agency, "Summary of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act", https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-resource-conservation-and-recovery-act, accessed May 18, 2017