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What is Waste?

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Definitions of Waste

Almost an entire column is devoted to the definition of the word 'waste' in the Chambers Dictionary. Among the many explanations provided are:

"to devastate, to consume, wear out, impair ...to cause to decline, shrink ...to enfeeble ...to impoverish ...to spend unprofitably"

Synonyms for 'waste' occupy a similar amount of space in the Collins English Thesaurus. Here are some of them:

"dissipate, fritter away, misuse, squander, deplete, undermine, dispoil, destroy, devestate"

The Thesaurus also provides some words that have the opposite meaning to 'waste'. Some of these are:

"build, conserve, defend, develop, economize, husband, increase, preserve, protect, save"

As you can see, waste has a lot of negative conotations. After all we don't won't to fritter away our resources or impoverish our country. In fact, most of us want to economise and protect Scotland and its environment.

You can help by Reducing, Reusing and Recycling your waste.

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Municipal Solid Waste

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) includes all the solid waste that is collected by (or on behalf of) your Local Authority. This includes all solid domestic waste as well as some of the waste that is produced by businesses. Most of the MSW in Scotland ends up in landfill sites across the country

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Biodegradable Municipal Waste

Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) includes such materials as food and garden waste, paper and cardboard. BMW is that waste that is able to be broken down through biological decomposition. Around 60% of all municpal waste is biodegradable.

At present around 66% of BMW produced in the EU is disposed of through landfill sites. Alternative methods of dealing with BMW include incineration (both with and without energy recovery), composting and mechanical-biological pre-treatment recycling.

There are many negative impacts of disposing of BMW through landfill. Some of the most serious issues include the production of leachate and landfill gas, vermin, odours and flies.

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A Bit About Landfills

Landfills are currently the main method of disposing of Scotland's waste. Around 90% of our controlled waste is sent to landfills around the country.

If not properly managed, landfills can directly cause pollution in the following ways:

  • The production of methane gas. This is a 'greenhouse gas' and contributes to global warming but it may be collected and burnt as a 'green' renewable energy.

  • Moisture in the landfill reacts with the waste to form leachate. This leachate needs to be collected and treated or it may end up polluting surface and ground water.

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The new European Community Landfill Directive has laid out higher standards for the operation of landfills. The Directive has been issued in order to ensure that landfills are constructed in such a way as to minimize pollution.

Modern landfill sites have to be lined so that leachate cannot leak out into the groundwater and their operations are monitored and controlled by SEPA.

What is most relevant to the householder is the fact that the Directive aims to greatly reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going into landfill. This will cut down the amount of methane released into the atmosphere and also the quantity of waste that is landfilled. This will, in turn, increase the lifespan of landfill sites. Some new modern landfill sites will have to be constructed. It is hoped that they will be fewer in number and less frequently constructed than before.

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If you have any queries, please email us, or call 01786 471 333.

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