This is looked at in two components
1. Management of Solid Waste
2. Management of Hazardous substances and Chemicals
The management of waste always requires an understanding of the concept of waste.
Definition of Waste: waste is an item or substance which has no utility value to the holder of the item. By the same token waste may well have some value to somebody else or to the same person in a different context. Therefore whether or not an item is considered to be or not to be waste must be determined from the point of view for the person who has control or is in possession of that particular item. An item which is waster is not the same thing as an item that does not have value. Waste items always have value and it is only that its value to the holder is less then the cost to the holder of retaining possession of it. Therefore the holder always faces an inherent temptation to dispose of the item at least cost to himself or to herself.
The first choice of disposal of a waste item is into the environment i.e. a cigarette smoker will puff away until they get to the butt end of the cigarette and then they have the Pavlov’s instinct of letting it drop from their hands and will drop it anywhere and for this reason waste presents an environmental problem because the holder does not see the need to invest resources in disposing the item. Where the holder is not able to dispose of it in the environment, the holder will hand over that item to the person who is willing to take the item. Such a person may well be prepared to pay for the item for the reason that the intending possessor of the item may well see utility value in the item. But the key thing is that the holder is disposing of the item rather than the person acquiring it is paying for it so the price that the holder imposes for the item will typically not represent the true economic value of the item. In an auction for instance one sets a reserve price which represents what one perceives as an item’s economic value. At times the holder is even prepared to pay for somebody to take away this item.
So waste presents an environmental management problem, the theory of managing waste is captured in an approach to management known as cradle to grave management or ‘life cycle management’. Cradle to Grave Management presents an approach that looks at an item from its inception to its disposal, the approach looks at the entire lifecycle of the item.
Lifecycle Management introduces management principles at each stage of the life of the item. At production the management approach is to reduce or minimize waste. After production in use the approach is to reuse waster and on disposal the approach is to recycle. Reduction of waste is basically the principle that the production process should result
1. In an item which potentially will generate little waste
2. The production process itself should give rise to as little waste as possible.
If in the process of producing an item the maker of the item is also generating a lot of waste. The idea is to minimize waster, there are people who argue that minimization of waster cuts costs.
Having generated the item, the idea is that the item itself should be an item that is capable of reuse which basically means putting the item back to use in the same form. A good example is a beverage bottle. These are items that can be used again in the same form. In order to encourage reuse, the management uses a deposit and return system to encourage reuse. Replacement of this particular item like cans for bottles leads to a waste management problem.