The need for waste management is essential in assessing the requirements for properly managed waste in a community. Needs assessment process would involve checking the existing waste management strategies, identifying the areas of importance, focusing on the critical needs, and identifying possible solutions. Waste management involves supervising the gathering, ferrying, processing, discarding and recycling of waste materials formed by human activity.
If this waste is not well managed, it can be a threat to humans and the environment in general. Thus, needs assessment for managing waste would be conducted by observing the methods that can be used to control the negative effects of waste. Waste is classified into four classes namely solid, liquid, gaseous, and radio active. Each of these four classes has its own methods of discarding.
To begin with, observation of how landfills are managed is essential in assessing the need for waste management. Landfill is whereby waste is collected and buried in an isolated piece of land that is relatively far from residential areas such as quarries. The waste is then compacted and covered in order to keep rodents away and keep the waste intact. This is the cheapest method of discarding waste but its effectiveness relies on how the dumping site is planned and run.
There are several problems that are associated with landfills. Lemann (2008) argues that if the landfill is not planned well, it might attract rodents such as rats and mice and also debris from the dumpsite might be blown by wind into residential areas. Secondly, these dumping sites generate a gas that contains carbon dioxide and methane which is produced by decaying organic matter.
This gas has a fowl odor and does not support plants life. This gas can be extracted using perforated pipes and then burnt to generate electricity. Thus, without proper management of landfills in a community, the community is deemed to be affected by waste.
Another method of waste management that can be assessed is incineration. Incineration is the most appropriate method of discarding solid, liquid and gaseous waste. Its best suited for places where land is inadequate. In this method waste is discarded by burning or by exposing the waste matter to high temperatures referred to as thermal treatment. The waste is usually put in a furnace where it is burned to produce gas which is then used to produce electricity.
Recycling involves collecting waste bins and ferrying them to a recycling center. Once they arrive at the recycling center, they are graded according to the materials that are used to manufacture them. This is to ensure that waste that is made from a common material can be remanufactured to make new goods. Good examples of products that can be reused are aluminum cans, plastic beverage containers, computers, glass jars, PVC and papers.
Involving the Community in Needs Assessment Process
This is one of the methods that can be used to involve the community in needs assessment process. Organic waste for example food bits and pieces, plants and papers is reprocessed using biological absorption and composting to decay the organic waste which is then used as manure (organic fertilizer) in farms.
This process is used to increase the process of decaying the organic matter. During this process methane is extracted and is thereby used in producing electricity. This method has been found to be more efficient than the other methods of discarding waste.
The energy contained in waste material can be recaptured by converting them into other forms of fuel. This means that the waste material can be used in homes as fuel for cooking food and also the gas that is obtained from decaying matter can be used as fuel in boilers that produce electricity in turbines.
The process of extracting this gas from organic waste is called gasification. The waste material is put into boilers that are tightly sealed to create high pressure. The boilers are then heated at very high temperatures which in return change the form of the waste from solid to liquid and lastly gas. The gas and the liquid are reprocessed to produce energy while the solid material is converted to active carbon.
Methods of Avoiding Accumulation of Waste
According to Vaughn (2009), there are several ways through which accumulation of waste can be avoided. The first one is by adopting the habit of continuous use of items that had been used previously. To add on to that all households and organizations should be encouraged to repair their broken items instead of replacing the item with a new one. By doing this, all dustbins will remain empty.
Manufactures too can contribute to avoiding accumulation of waste by coming up with products that can be reused. For instance plastic shopping bags should be replaced by cotton bags because cotton can be reprocessed to make another shopping bag.
Consumers can also participate in this campaign by not using disposable products such as plastic knives, plates, spoons and forks. Manufacturers should also use light materials in their products for instance in telecommunications industry lighter phones are more preferred than bulky ones because they are easy to carry around.
All companies that manufacture goods for local and external markets should be held accountable for the lifecycle of their goods from the time they are manufactured till they are fully exhausted. Individuals or organizations that will be found polluting the environment should be made to compensate for the damages they cause to the environment.
In conclusion, the pollution of air and water by discarding toxic materials and also polluting the soil by deforestation and emitting toxic gases that damage the ozone layer contribute to global warming which poses a great threat to human lives and those of other living things on planet earth.
Lemann, M.F. (2008).Waste Management. Switzerland: Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers.
Vaughn, J. (2009).Waste Management. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc.