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Waste management: System boundaries – Guidelines – Definitions

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Waste management includes the formation, treatment and disposal of waste materials and their resulting products. Analysing the entire material flow across the board of human activities (the anthropospheres) can help solve root problems with waste management. Every influence affecting each material is isolated and analysed for each environment. Environments may be private households, industries or means of transport. This is illustrated in the following scheme (see p. 30).

The waste flow chart overleaf shows the flow of municipal solid waste only. Similar diagrams have been generated for hazardous waste and sludge.

The scales of the problems that the waste industry faces are reflected in some Newspaper headlines:

– Berner Zeitung: In cities, the waste amount is growing – to be clean is your job! (the job of the road sweepers)

Berner Zeitung: Teenagers, see-saw between the wish to consume and their concern for the environmental problems which result from it.

Tagesanzeiger: A kilogram of waste per flight passenger

Müll und Abfall: Breisgau – European application for a waste incineration plant

VDI Nachrichten: Waste of the Comorra – Waste incineration plant in North Rhine-Westphalia for MSW from the region of Naples

These headlines show on the one hand that the perpetual fight for waste responsibility started in Switzerland again by introducing the bag fees, which then caused more public littering. Humans as consumers do not know enough about the coherency between economy and ecology – and their personal influence to this link (see section 3.5). On the other hand these press reports show that today's waste is no longer a local problem – it has now become global.

– VDI-Nachrichten: Fighting for every crumb

VDI-Nachrichten: The Fight for waste is becoming harder

VDI-Nachrichten: Germany navigates into a waste storm

VDI-Nachrichten: The havoc in waste management is constantly rising

How did such headlines begin? We need to reverse this trend by following the guideline “avoiding, minimising, recycling” the amount of waste that has to be disposed drops in favour of recycling and reusing. Therefore private and municipal waste managers dispute the volumes of “disposable waste” versus “products for reusing”. This reason, coupled with the dumping ban in Germany for all organics in the year 2005, means that it is unclear what future incineration capacity is required.

– Der Bund: “dumping in the face of forbiddance”

Berner Zeitung: Waste transport can start

Neue Zürcher Zeitung: Canton Ticino can keep its waste

Tagesanzeiger: To break the tip of the “waste-berg”

Since the dumping ban in Switzerland for all organics in the year 2000, the basic Swiss incineration capacity is also ambiguous. Due to comprehensive plastic recycling – Switzerland recycles only PET-material –the newly completed incineration plant in Thun and the intended plant in Canton Ticino would therefore not be necessary!

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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