Science & Technology in Action

6th Edition

Managing Ireland’s Waste

EPA

Modern economies produce increasing amounts of waste. In this lesson, categories of waste and their impact on the environment are discussed. There is particular focus on landfill, the most common waste disposal solution in Ireland, and the steps being taken to reduce this reliance.
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Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

Introduction
Waste can be defined as any substance or object which the holder discards or intends to discard or is required to discard. Frequently used synonyms are terms such as refuse, garbage, rubbish, trash or junk.

When waste is disposed of carelessly, for example on the street, it is generally known as litter. Waste disposed of illegally is said to be dumped. In this lesson we discuss waste and its impact on the environment with particular focus on landfill, the most common waste disposal solution in Ireland.

Why is Waste Important?
Modern economies produce an increasing amount of waste which becomes more difficult to manage without damaging the environment. Additional problems are presented by the many types of waste, such as plastics and electronic/electrical components that did not exist in previous eras.

There are the added concerns associated with the increasing amounts of hazardous waste (e.g. solvents, oils, chemical effluent) produced by certain industries such as the pharmaceutical, chemical and mining sectors. Households, farms and small businesses also generate hazardous waste. Consequently, waste management is now a focus of attention as many countries attempt to regulate waste related activities.

Types of Waste
Some common categories of waste are:

  • Municipal waste, which includes household waste and some commercial and industrial waste of a similar kind.
  • Construction and demolition waste.
  • Hazardous waste which, includes industrial hazardous waste, healthcare waste, batteries, electrical equipment, paints, varnishes, pesticides and asbestos.

Quiz questions

  1. Different types of waste have different effects on the environment. true
  2. Municipal waste is the same as medical waste. false
  3. The waste that seeps through a landfill is called leachate. true
  4. Glass is highly biodegradable. false
  5. BMW means Biodegradable Municipal Waste. true
  6. Landfill owners need a licence to operate. true
  7. Ireland can increase the amount of BMW going to landfill. false
  8. CO2 and CH4 are produced in landfills. true
  9. Incineration leaves no residual waste. false
  10. The 3 Rs are reduce, reuse and rectify. false