Definition of Solid Waste :
(a) The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the following definition for solid waste:-
“Garbage, refuse, sludges, and other discarded solid materials resulting from industrial and commercial operations and from community activities. It does not include solids or dissolved material in domestic sewage or other significant pollutants in water.”
(b) The Guyana Environmental Protection Act (1996) which established the EPA in this country has this definition for “waste” in the Act:-
“includes any matter prescribed to be waste and any matter, whether liquid or solid, gaseous or radioactive, which is discharged in the environment in such volume, composition or manner as to cause and adverse effect”.
(c) The Draft Solid Waste Management Bill, which is currently with the Ministry of Local Government for final ratification and movement to Parliament, provides the following extended definition:-
“solid waste” includes institutional, ship-generated, special or medical and hazardous wastes and-
(a) refuse or sludge from a waste treatment facility, water supply plant, air pollution control facility and garbage;
(b) solid, semi-solid or contained gaseous or liquid matter resulting from industrial, commercial, mining or agricultural operations or domestic activities; and
(c) any contained substance or object which is or is intended to be, or required by law to be, disposed of, but does not include-
(i) animal manure and absorbent bedding used for soil enrichment;
(ii) suspended solid or dissolved material in sewage; and
(iii) industrial discharges from pipelines conveying such waste;
A Solid Waste Management Programme
Defining or describing a Solid Waste Management Programme faces the same kind of difficulty. For example, Guyana's Draft Solid Waste Management Bill gives the following definition:-
“solid waste management” includes-
(a) the systematic control of the generation, collection, separation, storage, reuse, recycling, transportation, transfer, treatment, and disposal of solid waste, and
(b) the characterization and measurement of solid waste;
“solid waste management facility” means a facility for the collection, storage, treatment or disposal of solid waste and includes a landfill, compost facility or dump;
On the other, the EPA in the United States provided a series of Facts sheets to its constituents simplifying the concepts involved in a Solid Waste Management Programme or, as it is more commonly labeled, “An Integrated Solid Waste Management Programme”.
Here is the opening section of one of the fact sheets:-
What Is Integrated Solid Waste Management?
Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) is a comprehensive waste prevention, recycling, composting, and disposal program. An effective ISWM system considers how to prevent, recycle, and manage solid waste in ways that most effectively protect human health and the
environment. ISWM involves evaluating local needs and conditions, and then selecting and combining the most appropriate waste management activities for those conditions. The major ISWM activities are waste prevention, recycling and composting, and combustion and
disposal in properly designed, constructed, and managed landfills. Each of these activities requires careful planning, financing, collection, and transport, all of which are discussed in this and the other fact sheets.
This detailed but simple description of an Integrated Solid Waste Management Programme provides the basic elements upon which a Public Awareness and Education Programme should focus. These would include information, strategies and activities on waste prevention or waste reduction, recycling, composting and proper disposal of waste, by combustion (controlled burning), and in properly designed, constructed and managed sanitary landfill sites. It also has to focus on the planning, financial and other critical factors that the ISWM depends upon.
Many of these areas are already identified for inclusion in the Guyenterprise Public Awareness and Education Programme on Solid Waste Management and confirms the need for a holistic approach to solid waste management.