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Understanding Waste Diversion

Waste diversion is a vital component of not only effective recycling but also reducing the amount of waste actually produced. The ultimate goal of waste diversion is to divert wastes from actually making their way into landfills. Waste diversion can take on a variety of forms, but may also include several treatment processes in order to prevent waste from actually going to the landfill.

Waste reduction at the source is one of the most popular methods for diverting wastes from landfills. This method involves avoiding the use of materials that are not recyclable, reusable or disposable. Such materials are referred to as throw-away materials and may include disposable cups, plates, and cellophanes. These types of materials are typically designed to be used and then disposed of. Along with the fact that these materials cannot typically be composted, and usually cannot be recycled. Avoiding the use of such materials helps to minimize the amount of waste generated and sent to landfills.

Other methods for waste diversion involve recycling and reusing materials that are non-biodegradable. Recycling refers to the process of creating a new product from waste materials. This is not the same as reusing, which involves either using the material for the same purpose for which it was originally designed or using it for another purpose without altering its chemical or physical properties. Common waste materials that can be reused include empty bottles, plastic containers, aluminum cans, and plastic bags.

Composting biodegradable wastes offers another option for waste diversion. When waste materials are converted into soil additives, the process is known as composting. When biodegradable materials are not diverted from landfills, they can contribute to methane emission, which can ultimately result in climate change. The best method for diverting these wastes is through composting. Along with preventing gas emissions, composting can also provide an excellent source of fertilizer for farming.

It should be noted that not all types of wastes are suitable for diversion from a landfill. There are some wastes that are not able to be recycled, composted, or reused. Some wastes are referred to as residual wastes and must be disposed of in the proper manner. Ultimately, the more waste that a facility is able to divert, lesser amounts of residual waste will make its’ way to landfills.

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