Waste management is an industry which revolves around the collection, storage, and disposal of waste, ranging from ordinary household waste to the waste generated at nuclear power plants. Developing effective waste management strategies is critical for nations all over the world, as many forms of waste can develop into a major problem when they are not handled properly. Numerous firms provide waste management services of a variety of types, and several governments also regulate the waste management industry for safety and efficacy.
Humans generate a great deal of waste as a byproduct of their existence, and they always have, as evidence at dumping pits located in or around archaeological sites can attest. Every task, from preparing a meal to manufacturing a car, is accompanied with the production of waste material, which cannot be used for other things and needs to be disposed of effectively. If not contained and handled appropriately, waste can balloon into a huge problem, as for example when garbage ends up in the open ocean where it can make animals and birds sick.
On the generation end, waste management agencies have placed an increasing focus on reducing waste so that there is less waste to cope with. This can be done on an industrial level by developing more efficient processes, reducing packaging, and so forth, and individual consumers can also make a commitment to try and generate less waste. A big part of this movement has focused around recycling, in which goods which are still usable are reclaimed so that they can be reused or repurposed.
Transportation of waste is a major issue, as appropriate disposal sites may be remote. Frequently, subscription pickup services are available, with people paying a flat fee to have their waste picked up and disposed of, and people can also subscribe to specialty services, like medical waste pickup services, or confidential paper shredding and disposal services.
Once collected, waste has to be dealt with. Historically, the approach to a great deal of waste has been burial in landfills. This option has become increasingly problematic due to issues like limited space, pollution, and concerns that usable materials may be buried in landfills. Waste has also been incinerated, in some cases being used to generate electric power, and some other creative approaches to waste management have included simply dumping it without any attempt at containment or disposal, as seen in some developing nations, along with sinking it in the ocean or shooting it out into space. These approaches are especially troubling because they set up waste management problems for future generations, rather than effectively dealing with waste immediately so that it cannot become a bigger problem.