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Overview of Integrated Solid Waste Management | Types and Elements of Waste Management

Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) can be defined as extensive waste prevention, control, recycling, composting, and disposal system. Waste is a broad term which includes everything that no longer has a use or purpose and needs to be disposed of.

Solid waste management
Solid waste management

An effective and efficient waste management system considers how to prevent, control, recycle and manage solid waste in such a manner so that it will not hamper human health and environment.


Types of Solid Waste


Waste can be classified into the following classes-

  1. Refuse: It is an unwanted, discarded, solid waste material generated from household activities, sweeping, commercial, agricultural and industrial operations comprising man's activity.

  2. Garbage: is biodegradable waste which includes discarded material from the kitchen like left over food, vegetable and fruit peelings.

  3. Sullage: includes all the liquid waste without human excreta like waste water from the kitchen and other wash areas.

  4. Sewage: the term primarily refers to the liquid waste with human excreta.

Result of Improper Solid Waste Disposal


Improper disposal can pave way for accumulation of waste in the environment, rendering it susceptible to health hazards by the following mechanisms :

  • The organic waste tends to decompose, thereby serving as a breeding ground for flies and other insects.

  • The waste may attract rodents and vermin.

  • The flies and animals breeding in the waste may serve as vectors to certain diseases in man.

  • There is a possibility of the waste material getting washed off leading to water and soil pollution.

  • It can pose a significant risk to health and environmental concerns.

  • Heaps of waste have an unsightly appearance and an unpleasant odour for the passersby.

Therefore, certain rules and regulations should mandatorily be followed for efficient waste collection, transport and disposal.


What is Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM)?


Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) refers to a contemporary and systematic approach to solid waste management.


Having a comprehensive waste management system for efficient waste collection, transportation, and systematic waste disposal along with activities to promote reduction in waste generation and increase in waste recycling.


This approach provides the opportunity to create a suitable combination of existing waste management practices to manage waste more efficiently.


Integrated waste management is built on 3 R's :

  1. Reduce.

  2. Reuse.

  3. Recycle.

Integrated Solid Waste Management
Integrated Solid Waste Management

Components and functional elements of ISWM include :

  • Source reduction

  • Recycling

  • Composting

  • Waste transportation

  • Landfilling

Elements of ISWM


The important elements of Integrated Solid Waste Management are

  • Source Reduction or Waste Prevention: In this step, we aim to significantly reduce the generation of waste. Hence, the products are designed to be suitable for recycling, and produce durable and sustainable goods.

  • Waste Storage: We're aware that storage is the key functional element in waste management because collection of wastes never really occurs at the source or time of their generation. The heterogeneous wastes generated in residential areas must be removed within 8 days ideally due to shortage of storage space and presence of biodegradable material which is highly vulnerable to decomposition by the microorganisms naturally occurring in the environment.

  • Recycling and Recovery: Recycling and recovery of waste are among the two most crucial phases in Integrated Solid Waste Management as both are known to significantly contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and tend to have economic benefits by creating job opportunities and generation of cost-effective sources of materials for future use.

  • Waste Collection: Collection is the process which mainly involves gathering of wastes and hauling them to a location just as they are, when the collection vehicle is emptied at the transfer station or a processing plant to reach the disposal site.

  • Waste Processing: Processing is the procedure empl