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Industrial waste

Industrial waste

Industrial waste is the waste produced by industrial activity which includes any material that is rendered useless during a manufacturing process such as that of factories, industries, mills, and mining operations. Types of industrial waste include dirt and gravel, masonry and concrete, scrap metal, oil, solvents, chemicals, scrap lumber, even vegetable matter from restaurants. Industrial waste may be solid, liquid or gaseous. It may be hazardous or non-hazardous waste. Hazardous waste may be toxic, ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or radioactive. Industrial waste may pollute the air, the soil, or nearby water sources, eventually ending up in the sea.[1] Industrial waste is often mixed into municipal waste, making accurate assessments difficult. An estimate for the US goes as high as 7.6 billion tons of industrial waste produced every year.[2] Most countries have enacted legislation to deal with the problem of industrial waste, but strictness and compliance regimes vary. Enforcement is always an issue.

Classification and treatment

Toxic waste, chemical waste, industrial solid waste and municipal solid waste are designations of industrial wastes. Sewage treatment plants can treat some industrial wastes, i.e. those consisting of conventional pollutants such as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Industrial wastes containing toxic pollutants or high concentrations of other pollutants (such as ammonia) require specialized treatment systems. (See Industrial wastewater treatment).[3]

Industrial wastes can be classified on the basis of their characteristics:

  • Waste in solid form, but some pollutants within are in liquid or fluid form, e.g. crockery industry or washing of minerals or coal

  • Waste in dissolved and the pollutant is in the liquid form, e.g. dairy industry

Environmental Impact

Factories and power plants are typically located near bodies of water due to the need for large amounts of water as an input to the manufacturing process, or for equipment cooling. Many areas that are becoming industrialized do not yet have the resources or technology to dispose of waste with lesser effects on the environment. Both untreated and partially treated wastewater are commonly fed back into a near lying body of water. Metals, chemicals and sewage released into bodies of water directly affect marine ecosystems and the health of those who depend on the waters as food or drinking water sources. Toxins from the wastewater can kill off marine life or cause varying degrees of illness to those who consume these marine animals, depending on the contaminant. Metals and chemicals released into bodies of water affect the marine ecosystems.[4] Effective manners in properly removing waste

Wastewater containing nitrates and phosphates often causes eutrophication which can kill off existing life in the water. A Thailand study focusing on water pollution origins found that the highest concentrations of water contamination in the U-tapao river had a direct correlation to industrial wastewater.[5]

Air Pollution

Another obvious effect of industrial waste is air pollution resulting from fossil fuel burning. This affects the lives of many people because this spreads illnesses. Over time, this issue that has been widespread. Several environmental issues have a devastating effect on third world countries because they don't have sufficient resources to solve this particular issue.[6] This also effects the quality of soil because farmers have to try and deal with this massive issue. In addition, nitrogen dioxide is a common air pollutant found in the air. Air pollutants have a devastating effect on the human population because it causes sicknesses. Ammonia also causes a lot of respiratory problems that can be contracted from the air. "Illnesses that can occur from air pollution range from irritation to eyes, skin, nose, or throat. There is also a chance to get Pneumonia or Bronchitis both being very dangerous. Commonly, people have reported to have gotten headaches, nauseam and dizziness from air pollution."[7] The WHO or The World Health Organization has stated that air pollution is the worst risk in terms of human health.[8] Air pollution has been around for a long time. Indoor air pollution is also a risk for humans. This type of air pollution is caused of the burning of solid fuels mostly from cooking or heating.[9]

Water pollution

Water pollution in the Wairarapa, New Zealand

Water pollution in the Wairarapa, New Zealand

One of the most devastating effects of industrial waste is water pollution. For most industrial processes, heavy amount of water is used which comes in contact with harmful chemicals. These chemicals are usually metals or radioactive material. This heavily effects the environment because most of waste ends up in oceans, lakes, or rivers. As a result, water becomes polluted posing as health hazard to everyone. Farmers rely on this water but if the water is polluted, then crops that are produced can become polluted. These effect the health of society because if industrial companies can't clean up their waste, this begins to affect the life of humans but also animals. Sea creature’s health are affected because their lives become endangered by this polluted water. Water pollution can have devastating effects on the human body with the main ones being infections from bacteria, parasites, and chemicals. "Diseases that humans can be exposed from drinking unsafe water range from cholera, typhoid, or Giardia."[10]


In Thailand

In Thailand the roles in municipal solid waste (MSW) management and industrial waste management are organized by the Royal Thai Government, which is organized as central (national) government, regional government, and local government. Each government is responsible for different tasks. The central government is responsible for stimulating regulation, policies, and standards. The regional governments are responsible for coordinating the central and local governments. The local governments are responsible for waste management in their governed area.[11] However, the local governments do not dispose of the waste by themselves but instead hire private companies that have been granted the right from the Pollution Control Department (PCD) in Thailand.[12] The main companies are Bangpoo Industrial Waste Management Center,[13] General Environmental Conservation Public Company Limited (GENCO),[14] SGS Thailand,[15] Waste Management Siam LTD (WMS),[16] and Better World Green Public Company Limited (BWG).[17] These companies are responsible for the waste they have received from their customers before releasing it to the environment, burying it.

In the United States

The 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) provides for federal regulation of solid waste in the United States.[18] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued national regulations regarding the handling, treatment and disposal of wastes. EPA has authorized individual state environmental agencies to implement and enforce the RCRA regulations through approved waste management programs.[19]

State compliance is monitored by EPA inspections. In the case that waste management guideline standards are not met, action against the site will be taken. Compliance errors may be corrected by enforced cleanup directly by the site responsible for the waste or by a third party hired by that site.[19] Prior to the enactment of the Clean Water Act (1972) and RCRA, open dumping or releasing wastewater into nearby bodies of water were common waste disposal methods.[20] The negative externalities on human health and environmental health led to the need for such a regulations. The RCRA framework provides specified subsections defining nonhazardous and hazardous waste materials and how each should be properly managed and disposed of. Guidelines for the disposal of nonhazardous solid waste includes the banning of open dumping. Hazardous waste is monitored in a cradle to grave fashion. The EPA now manages 2.96 million tons of solid, hazardous and industrial waste. Since establishment, the RCRA program has undergone reforms as inefficiencies arise and as waste management evolves.[19]

The Clean Air Act (United States) of 1963 and Air Quality Act of 1967 was one of the first moves to start legislating air pollution. It also provided a stricter enforcement on interstate air pollution.[21] The clean Air Act of 1970:Increased legislation to limit pollution. For example, mobile sources such as cars, trucks, and industrial sources were on watch by the government. This acts goal was to regulate the spread of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, lead, monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. These six pollutants were categorized as the most common ones according to EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency).[22] Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977: Air quality areas that were under the effect of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (the National Ambient Air Quality Standards) had increased attention to prevent PSD (Prevention of Significant Deterioration). Clean Water Act: CWA of 1972 protects certain areas from waste. Industrial companies are not able to dump in these areas because they are protected by CWA. These are set in places to watch the quality of water.All of these acts have helped to manage pollution in the United States but there is much progress left. With pollution being the leading cause of death as pointed out by Richard Fuller.[23] With plans that are under progress, it will not be cheap to maintain pollution in the United States.

In China

Air Pollution in Shanghai, China.

Air Pollution in Shanghai, China.

Levels of water pollution have increased causing diarrhea infections in infants. It has costed around $100 billion to sustain the quality of air and water in China, but if China ignores the quality of water pollution it will worsen. The burning of coal is one the leading causes of air pollution in China, forcing people to wear face masks when going in public. Issues from pollution arise from power plants and factories. This was a report from urban residents who are trying to convince the government to help. The government has tried to manage heavy industry. There are multiple different ways of managing industrial waste. At times there needs to be stricter policies for companies who deal with industrial waste. According to an article, waste heat is often produced and thrown into the environment. Waste heat is produced by water evaporation by the industry. Fossil fuel can be reduced when waste heat is used by industries for their advantage.[24] Most effort to reduce industrial waste come from lifestyle changes from humans and more enforcement to the environment.[25]

In London

In order to improve air quality in London, there has been of fund of 20 million pounds. This came from the Our Mayor’s Air Quality Fund (MAQF).[26] London implemented 12 Emission Low Bus Areas.[27] This helps reduce toxic fumes that are released from vehicles. London is in the same situation as in the United States when it comes to managing pollution.

See also

  • Chemical waste

  • Environmental remediation

  • Environmental racism

  • Global Warming

  • Hazardous waste

  • List of solid waste treatment technologies

  • List of waste management companies

  • List of waste management topics

  • Recycling

  • Soil Pollution

  • Tailings

  • Water pollution


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