Waste management is a fairly recent phenomenon. A product of an increasing world population, industrialisation and growing urban metropolises. Waste management only became necessary as we produced more waste than we knew what to do with. Since then, waste management has developed its own principles, concepts and methods in order to be able to deal with the waste we produce every day.
Waste management is based around a central principle: the waste hierarchy. This hierarchy details the most preferred solution to waste management, not producing or eliminating the waste, to the least preferred, disposal. It represents the stages through which waste travels as it being managed, with solutions for recycling along the way. But waste management is not just a series of principles, it is also a practice, a business, an industry. Waste management companies will offer a number of solutions across the stages of the hierarchy.
So waste management helps to eliminate, minimise or dispose of waste – but what are its other benefits? Apart from the obvious environmental benefit of reducing the amount and impact of waste produced, waste management also has economic benefits. It promotes recycling and recovery as opposed to disposal, and benefits to social health and well-being. It also has a key role in business. Most large commercial organisations will require some form of waste management. As businesses look to profit from eliminating or reducing their waste, and realise the social and economic benefits of corporate social responsibility. Waste management stands to become ever more important, not only to global corporations, but small, independent businesses too.
In our throwaway, consumer culture, waste management is a essential discipline. Not only does it clear up and deal with the debris of everyday life, waste management also serves to educate us about how we can eliminate or reduce the waste we are responsible for.