8.3 Solid domestic waste
- Solid domestic waste (SDW) is increasing as a result of growing human populations and consumption.
- Both the production and management of SDW can have significant influence on sustainability.
Knowledge and understanding:
- There are different types of SDW, the volume and composition of which changes over time.
- The abundance and prevalence of non-biodegradable pollution (such as plastic, batteries or e-waste) in particular has become a major environmental issue.
- Waste disposal options include landfills, incineration, recycling and composting.
- There are a variety of strategies that can be used to manage SDW (refer to figure 3) influenced by cultural, economic, technological and political barriers. These strategies include:
- altering human activity – for example, through a reduction of consumption and composting of food waste.
- controlling the release of pollutant – governments create legislation to encourage recycling and reuse initiatives and impose taxes for SDW collection and on disposable items
- reclaiming landfills, using SDW for waste-to-energy programmes, implementing initiatives to remove plastics from the Great Pacific garbage patch (cleanup and restoration).
Applications and skills:
- Evaluate SDW disposal options.
- Compare and contrast pollution management strategies for SDW.
- Evaluate, with reference to figure 3, pollution management strategies for SDW by considering recycling, incineration, composting and landfills.
- Pollution can be transborder; the pollution from one country may affect another.
- Differences in development level of countries can influence the amount and type of SDW they generate.
Theory of knowledge:
- The circular economy can be seen as a paradigm shift—does knowledge develop through paradigm shifts in all areas of knowledge?
- Sustainability (1.4)
- Humans and pollution (1.5)
- Flows of energy and matter (2.3)
- Water pollution (4.4)
- Soil degradation and conservation (5.3)
- Acid deposition (6.4)