The problem of solid waste is a growing concern for America and the world; so much so that the federal government dedicates an entire federal agency, The Environmental Protection Agency, to solving and preventing problems caused by waste. Three main methods exist for solid waste disposal: storing it in a landfill, burning it, or reusing it.
The Environmental Protection Agency regulates and monitors the disposal of solid waste to protect environmental and human health. The EPA performs this vital function by promoting the reuse and reduction of solid waste, enforces waste disposal legislation and helps clean up areas contaminated by waste. The EPA also sets the United States' general goals and policies.
Ideally, everyone should create a compost with yard waste like leaves and branches, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Compost not only benefits the environment and keeps unnecessary refuse out of landfills, it can even provide economic benefits. Organic matter creates methane in landfills and contributes to greenhouse that cause global warming. Instead of throwing out yard trimmings, using them as a compost replenishes soil and reduces the need to pay for land reclamation .
For non-hazardous waste that cannot be reclaimed or recycled, landfills offer a reasonable and fairly cheap solution. Not just any open area will do--landfills must abide by certain federal guidelines set forth by the EPA and receive proper monitoring and maintenance. A good landfill has lining to protect from toxins leaking into water supplies and covers for full landfills.
A landfill may offer a cheap solution to large amounts of trash, but incineration can quickly reduce the volume. An efficient and environmentally sound incinerator does not simply burn whatever trash there is lying around. Scrubbers and filters prevent acidic gases from release and prevent ash from burning into the air. Some incinerators recycle and reuse refuse as fuel to burn non-recyclable materials.
Tips to Reduce Waste
While recycling and reclaiming materials goes a long way toward reducing pollution, the best way to help the environment is by reducing the resources you use. The EPA recommends that you buy items in bulk packaging, and choose open-air fruit instead of fruit in bags. Instead of buying one-time use items, buy reusable items like cloth napkins instead of paper ones.