Diverting Waste

Waste diversion or landfill diversion is the process of keeping waste from going to a landfill. Diversion can occur through various techniques and processes that will be discussed in this section, such as:

  • Recycling. Taking used materials such as glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics and creating new products. Depending on the value added to the new product, recycling can be further divided into upcycling and downcycling.

  • Biological Treatment. The breaking down of biomass through the action of microorganisms, into carbon dioxide, methane, water and other by-products. Biomass consists of wood, crops, yard and animal waste. There are various technologies, such as composting and biodigestion, able to convert waste biomass into valuable products like electricity, natural fertilizers and biofuels.

  • Thermal / Chemical Treatment. Organic components found in biomass and other hydrocarbon-based products can be broken down thermally to produce heat, electricity and biofuels. Gasification, incineration and pyrolysis are few technologies currently in use. 

  • Re-use, Refurbishment & Upcycling. As the saying goes: "One man's trash is another man's treasure". Not all waste is destined to be destroyed or interred; there are many materials that can be re-used or refurbished for further use.

By determining the types of waste generated in an organization, different approaches can be used to divert it from ending up in a landfill. Whether it be paper and plastic, e-waste or biodegradable waste, there will generally be different options of disposal which will be covered here.

This guide is intended to establish sustainable best practices for waste disposal analyzing what makes the most economic and ligistical sense. There will also be insight into the bigger picture, learning about ambitious and far-reaching goals such as a Zero Waste, where everything going to the bin is diverted from the local landfill. 

 
 

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons