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There are different modes of collection, storage, and disposal of each of these waste streams. Therefore, different problems are associated with each of these systems.

Non-hazardous Solid Waste Streams

There are six basic types of non-hazardous waste streams which can cause health and safety problems to humans and have a detrimental effect on the environment.

Municipal Solid Waste

In the United States in 2013, people produced 254 million tons of non-hazardous municipal solid waste, and recycled and composted over 87 million tons of this material. Schools, hospitals, and businesses created a mass of material which needed disposal, including packaging from various products, furniture and appliances, clothing, newspaper, glass, etc. Then add to the waste stream paperboard, plastics, electronics, metals, road debris, yard trimmings, and food waste. Also produced were paint and solvents, other corrosive or volatile materials, used oil, batteries, household cleaners and pesticides, etc., which become part of the hazardous waste stream.

Per capita consumption of goods and products worldwide is projected to increase, and therefore both the non-hazardous waste stream and the hazardous waste stream will increase with it. (See endnote 1.)

Municipal waste from residences is pretty uniform across the country, with the exception of probably higher concentrations of organic materials in warm climates than in colder climates. Municipal waste from business is usually the largest amount of material that needs to be disposed of from cities. The type of waste depends on the type of commercial establishments that are within any given area. Restaurants generate much larger quantities of food wastes and food packaging than other types of materials. There is also a substantial amount of paper, cardboard and packaging, and process waste. Other municipal waste include industrial waste, institutional waste, construction and demolition wastes, wastes from municipal services including waste treatment plants, industrial process waste such as scrap.

Collection (See endnote 11)

There are fixed and variable factors for the solid waste collection system for individuals and the community. The fixed factors are related to the climate conditions, seasonal factors, topography, and lay-out of the various areas including the width of the streets and whether parking is allowed on one side or both sides, population density, traffic patterns and density, and the type and quantity of solid waste produced. The variable factors include type of storage, recycling of materials, frequency of collection, crew size, type of collection equipment, distance from collection point to disposal point, and political factors. Consideration has to be given for the collection of yard waste, special waste such as large objects, commercial solid waste, occupational health and safety concerns for the workers, and the collection of data necessary for determining proper planning, organization, and management of the solid waste collection program. The collection process accounts for about 75% of the cost of the solid waste management program.

The collection system and the type of equipment used vary with the community and the type of solid waste needed to be collected. The size of crews and the daily routes are established based on the data collected concerning the volume and type of solid waste and the distance to the disposal point.

There are several means of financing solid waste programs, each with advantages and disadvantages. Property taxes may be utilized with the advantage of having funds always available to carry out the program. Disadvantages include: there are no incentives for the individuals to reduce the amount of solid waste being produced; this may be inequitable because different people produce different quantities of solid wastes; and the actual cost of the collection system may not be transparent because it may be part of overall governmental funding. A flat fee system is easy to administer, it is easier to adjust fees when needed, and it can be done without government if needed. The disadvantages include: this fee-for-service may not be used for solid waste collection but for other purposes; the fees may be difficult to collect; residents may dump their solid waste to avoid paying the fee; and it does not provide an incentive for reduction of quantities of solid waste. The variable-rate system gives a direct economic incentive to produce less solid waste to reduce the cost of collection and makes people more aware of what they are putting in the disposal system. The disadvantages include: it is difficult to administer because it is complicated; it requires enforcement programs; and it is difficult to project anticipated revenue to keep the system working properly.

The operation of the solid waste program may be conducted by municipal departments of sanitation, contracts with waste management companies, or private collection between the company being serviced and the waste management company. In any case, they must obey all appropriate governmental regulations and eventually could come under the supervision of the governmental agency.

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