Category Archives: Land pollution

Sustainable Waste Management – Full Details

Sustainable Waste Management has become the need of the hour with the ever-increasing amount of garbage that humans generate. According to the United Nations, around 11.2 billion tonnes of solid garbage are collected worldwide, with humans accounting for nearly all of it. As a result, we must devise plans for long-term sustainable waste management.

In this blog, we will discuss the importance of sustainable waste management, its importance as well as the ways of doing so. Let’s get started with the definition of sustainable waste management.

What is Sustainable Waste Management?

Sustainable waste management refers to the collection, transportation, valuation, and disposal of different types of garbage in a manner that does not damage the environment, human health, or future generations. It encompasses all activities involved in waste management, from production to final treatment.

Sustainable waste management aims to limit the amount of natural resources utilised by

  • reusing as much natural materials as possible
  • producing as little garbage as possible.

A well-functioning sustainable waste management system should have feedback loops, a process-oriented approach, adaptability, and methods for waste diversion. It is critical to adhere to environmental sustainability in this regard so that we can manage all the garbage efficiently rather than dumping it in landfills.

Also read: Land Pollution Effects – Top 7 Effects Explained

Why Sustainable Waste Management Is Important?

Let’s have a look at the importance of sustainable waste management and what makes it an attractive option.

Creates space

In the absence of a proper waste management system, garbage will end up on land, either scattered or centralised in a landfill. Landfills are large structures that take up a lot of space. Densely populated cities can’t afford a lot of space for the sake of landfills.

In such cities, we have to manage and sustainably control our waste so that we can dispose of it properly without wasting space for landfills. Before you move to the next section, make sure that you check out Landfills – Causes, Operation and Life Cycle- Everything you should know

Sustainable waste management Saves and also makes money

Recycling more can help us save money since we will not need to buy another identical item once we have reused or recycled it. Sustainable waste management, in line with the concept of money, can assist some businesses in generating revenue.

Municipalities that collect garbage, for example, might charge collection and recycling fees, gaining money in the process. This will also deter institutions that generate a lot of waste, making them more sustainable and environmentally conscious.

Prevents Pollution

Each type of rubbish we dump has a unique impact on the ecosystem. Pharmaceutical waste, for example, contaminates our water, and discarded meals attract flies and rodents. To avoid this, we should return pharmaceutical waste to the manufacturer for proper disposals, such as burning. Food waste can be sent for composting and plastics for recycling.

All of these measures, as well as others, will aid in pollution control. As a result, pharmaceutical waste won’t pollute the water, plastics won’t block marine life, and food waste won’t attract mice. Sustainable waste management enables us to better understand our garbage and how to manage it.

Also read: Land Pollution Causes -Top 6 causes explained

Waste Management Hierarchy in Sustainable Waste Management

The waste management hierarchy is the foundation for sustainable waste management. It focuses on

  • Avoidance
  • Reduction
  • Reuse and recycle
  • Energy recovery
  • Treatment or disposal

Its goal is to prioritise behaviours that maximise resource efficiency, with renewable and less wasteful methods at the top of the pyramid. We’ll look at how the waste management hierarchy is crucial to long-term waste management in the upcoming section.

Reduction and avoidance

The primary aim is to avoid and reduce the amount of waste produced. This can be accomplished by increasing efficiency while lowering consumption. To begin with, businesses and consumers should select products that take the least amount of resources to manufacture including the packaging.

Additionally, wherever possible, we should abstain from using single-use or disposable commodities. These materials form the core of linear waste, in which resources are harvested, processed, and redistributed only to be discarded.

3R concept
3R concept

Reuse and Recycle

If we cannot avoid the consumption of a product then we should choose things that are reusable. Also, we should promote awareness on how to reuse waste products. Processing new materials require money, energy, and often other resources. Since reusing helps us to save these resources, we prefer it over solutions lower down the hierarchy.

One of the core aspects of the zero-waste concept is reuse, which can take the form of having shoes repaired, giving clothes and objects for others to use, and even finding recipes for food leftovers rather than tossing them away. If an object cannot be reused, recycling is the next best choice.

Recycling is suitable for materials that have reached the end of their usable life in their existing form. It minimises the need to extract virgin resources and mitigates some of the negative consequences of waste disposal. Recycling is less desirable than reusing and reducing because it needs more energy, money, and resources to convert the garbage into useable products.

Energy Recovery

Energy recovery is the next stage, which involves converting waste into useable heat, power, or fuel, such as biogas. This is accomplished using a variety of techniques such as

  • Incineration (with energy recovery),
  • Gasification
  • Pyrolysis
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Landfill gas (LFG) recovery

Combustion is a typical technique of energy recovery for non-hazardous waste. and while it is less favourable to reuse or recycle, it helps lower the physical volume of waste transported to landfills and also produces energy from the burning process that would otherwise require fossil fuels.

Treatment or Disposal

Treatment or disposal is the final and least desirable step in the hierarchy. This usually refers to landfills or incinerators that do not recover energy. Some waste demands treatment but we should avoid it as much as possible by using sustainable waste management techniques.

Sustainable Waste Management Solutions

What criteria must professionals and citizens use to decide if waste management procedures are “sustainable?”

Fundamentally, building a circular economy of waste, as opposed to the make-use-dispose paradigm, is crucial to sustainable waste management. In a circular economy of waste, it returns as a new product or source of energy in a sustainable manner.

Solutions for long-term waste management include:


Composting is a green and environmentally friendly technique to dispose of waste. Common household items that can undergo composting include excess fruits, tea bags, eggshells, coffee filters, etc. Since it will nourish the soil, the compost pit will be an excellent addition to your workplace or home garden.

To keep odours and fruit flies at bay, tightly close the composting bin or bag. In general, composting converts and recovers organic matter into stable, sanitary, and soil-like products that are high in humic chemicals that replenish the soil.


Avoid Single-use products

We must promote reusable products instead of single-use ones. Get mugs or glasses instead of cardboard coffee cups. Even at professional composting facilities, many supposedly green things, such as compostable coffee cups, don’t undergo composting. They eventually end up in landfills. If we can switch to a greener option like glass which we can reuse and recycle it could save both the environment and money.

Make the switch to digital.

Paper and paper products account for the majority of Municipal Solid Waste. Switching as much paperwork as possible to digital forms is a simple strategy for organisations to improve sustainable waste management. This includes

  • Sending and receiving bills electronically rather than in paper
  • Keeping meeting minutes in a shared document rather than printing them
  • Converting to online banking


If the correct framework is in place, waste management can be sustainable in both enterprises and homes. But, more importantly, the implications of ignoring waste are just too serious to ignore. So, let us join our hands to manage waste, adopt sustainable waste management solutions into our day to day life and convert waste into a resource.

Happy Learning.

Landfills – Causes, Operation and Life Cycle- Everything you should know

Landfills are a regular occurrence all over the world, owing to the rising volume of trash generated by our homes, schools, offices, hospitals, and markets. The rising number of landfills around the world is largely due to increased urbanisation and population growth rates.

As the world’s population and cities develop, so does the need for goods and commodities. Consequently, the amount of solid trash produced also increases. They eventually reach landfills. In this blog, let’s go on a trip to a landfill and understand its operation, lifecycle and impacts

Also read: Land Pollution – Causes, Effects and Prevention

Let me begin with the definition of landfills.

What are Landfills?

Landfills are places where we dispose of trash, garbage, and other solid wastes. They have traditionally been the most frequent method of disposing of solid garbage. In the landfills, the waste is either buried or piled in heaps. The garbage in these heaps is a combination of residential and commercial waste.

Landfills commonly use either of the following techniques for waste disposal:

  • Landraising – This technique involves depositing trash directly on the ground.
  • Landfilling – This technique involves filling a hole in the ground with the rubbish.

Causes of Landfills

With the rise in land utilization and pollution, landfills also saw a rise in the number. Let’s see the causes of land pollution. Before jumping into the next section make sure that you go through Land Pollution Causes -Top 6 causes explained.

Solid Waste

Wood, paper, plastic, broken furniture, glass, grounded cars, old electronic items, and hospital and market garbage are examples of solid waste materials. Because most of these waste materials are non-biodegradable, they heap in the landfills where they stay for years.

Agricultural Waste

Agricultural wastes comprise waste products such as animal dung, crop residue, and agricultural garbage. Solid wastes such as animal manure and other agricultural wastes are collected and disposed of in landfills.

Now, let’s try to understand how landfills operate.

Also read: What is Sewage? – Sources, Treatment and Quality Indicators

Landfills Operation

  • On arrival waste collection vehicles move to a scale or weighbridge to weigh their loads.
  • Workers inspect loads for wastes that do not meet the landfill’s waste-acceptance standards.
  • The garbage collecting vans next travel to the tipping face or working front and drop their contents.
  • Compactors or bulldozers redistribute and compact the garbage on the working face.
  • The vans may pass through a wheel-cleaning facility before leaving the landfill’s borders. If necessary, they return to the weighbridge without any load for re-weighing.
landfills operation
landfills operation

Sanitary landfills life cycle

A sanitary landfill is a pit with a sealed bottom where rubbish is buried and compacted in layers to make it more solid. In sanitary landfills, waste decomposition is a complex process involving the sequential and/or simultaneous occurrence of a variety of chemical and biological reactions. These reactions result in the breakdown of the waste materials. The organic fractions of MSW break down quickly, resulting in landfill gases and liquids.

The amount of biodegradable organic matter present in the waste, the availability of moisture and nutrients required for biodegradation, and final landfill closure measures all influence the duration of individual phases, as well as the nature and quantity of various landfill gases generated during each phase.

Over the lifetime of a sanitary landfill, five successive phases can be distinguished based on the formation of major landfill gases and physicochemical conditions. Let’s have a closer look at each of the phases.

Phase 1 – Initial adjustment

  • The first phase of a sanitary landfill’s life cycle.
  • During this phase, the organic constituents easily biodegrade organic compounds in Municipal Solid Waste undergo microbial breakdown, typically under aerobic circumstances, soon after dumping them in the landfill.
  • This phase usually lasts a short time from the moment of waste dumping until around a week.
  • The oxygen-rich air trapped within the landfill promotes aerobic reactions.
  • Microorganisms are the primary agents in biodegradation. The soil that is utilised for daily cover serves as the primary source of microbes.
  • Sludge from wastewater treatment plants is sometimes recirculated. Leachate also serves as a source of the microbial population.

Phase 2 – Transition Phase

  • The landfill undergoes a transition from an aerobic to an anaerobic state in this phase.
  • Because of the high consumption of oxygen during Phase I, and its subsequent depletion, the situation is mainly anaerobic. The oxidation/reduction potential of the waste helps to track the change from aerobic to anaerobic conditions.
  • In the absence of oxygen, the terminal electron acceptors are nitrate and sulphate in the chemical reactions that occur. Hence the landfill gas consists mainly of nitrogen and hydrogen sulphide.
  • Due to the formation of organic acids and higher COconcentrations within the landfill, any leachate created during the transition period is often acidic.
  • The pH during this phase is normally between 6 and 7.
  • This phase can last between 1 to 6 months.

Phase 3 – Acid Formation Phase

  • In the acid formation phase, the biodegradable component of the solid waste begins to hydrolyze. As a result, there is a rapid accumulation of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) in the leachate.
  • The increasing organic acid concentration lowers the pH of the leachate from 7.5 to 5.6.
  • The leachate has the potential to dissolve many inorganic elements, including heavy metals, due to the decreased pH, making it very poisonous.
  • This phase lasts anything from 3 months to 3 years on average.
  • The further breakdown of intermediate chemicals, such as VFAs, generate a significant amount of chemical oxygen demand during this phase.
  • High VFA concentrations raise both the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and VOA levels. This triggers H2 generation by fermentative bacteria and promotes the growth of H2-oxidizing bacteria.
  • Acetic acid (C2H4O2), CO2, and hydrogen gas are produced from long-chain volatile organic acids (VOAs) towards the end of this phase.

Phase 4 – Methane Fermentation

  • Methanogenic bacteria convert the intermediary products of the acid formation phase such as acetic, propionic, and butyric acids to CH4 and CO2.
  • As methanogens continue to digest the VFAs, the pH of the landfill water returns to neutrality.
  • The organic strength of the leachate, expressed in terms of COD, drops rapidly as the rate of CH4 and CO2 gas generation rises.
  • This is the most time-consuming part of the breakdown process. The typical duration of this phase is approximately 8 to 40 years,

Phase 5 – Final maturation and stabilization

  • This is the final stage of a sanitary landfill’s life cycle.
  • Once the microorganisms finish consuming easily biodegradable organic materials they begin digesting other difficult to biodegrade materials.
  • As the amount of available biodegradable organic matter considerably decreases during the maturation phase, the rate of landfill gas generation drops dramatically from prior phases.
  • This phase’s leachate frequently contains humic and fulvic acids. The main gases produced at this period are CH4 and CO2.

Impacts of Landfills

Landfills all over the world have social, economic and environmental impacts. Below mentioned are a few of them:


When rain falls on open landfills, the water percolates through the waste, becoming contaminated with suspended and dissolved material. This creates leachate. All modern landfills use a combination of impermeable liners several metres thick, geologically stable sites, and collection systems to collect and contain the leachate. Most landfills use clay as the liner material, but geosynthetic membrane liners also find wide application in sanitary landfills.

Also read: Geosynthetics- Types and Benefits Full Guide

Following that, it can be treated and evaporated. Once a landfill is full, authorities seal it to prevent precipitation intrusion and the development of new leachate. Any landfill liner would eventually leak. This leads to the contamination of groundwater in the long run.

Landfills Gas

Rotting food and other decomposing organic waste produce gases particularly CO2 and CHthrough aerobic and anaerobic decomposition, respectively. Both processes take place at the same time in separate regions of a landfill. The fraction of gas constituents will vary based on the age of the landfill, the type of waste, moisture level, and available O2.

On average, CH4 accounts for roughly half of the volumetric concentration of landfills gas, with CO2 accounting for slightly less than half. About 5% molecular nitrogen (N2), less than 1% hydrogen sulphide (H2S), and a modest quantity of non-methane organic chemicals (NMOC), about 2700 ppmv, are also present in the gas.

Due to the high percentage of methane in the landfills gas, some countries utilize it as a fuel.


Landfills serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, flies and rats. Because vectors such as rodents and flies can spread dangerous diseases, poorly managed landfills can become a nuisance. The application of daily cover can help to reduce the occurrence of such vectors.


Modern landfills that adhere to all standards governing site selection, design, building, and operation ensure not only a clean and safe facility but also a potential source of energy that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Proper management of landfill gases and leachate help in avoiding environmental pollution. Sanitary landfills are still the most cost-effective way to dispose of MSW if they are properly planned and managed.

In case of any queries feel free to ask in the comments section. Happy Learning.

Land Pollution Effects – Top 7 Effects Explained

Land pollution has disastrous effects, particularly on the survival of animals and humans, as well as in the quality of soil and water. Human activities have increasingly ruined and degraded land since the dawn of industrialization, producing diseases in humans and animals and limiting the capacity to support ecosystems and varied life forms.

In the previous blog, we had seen an overview of the effects and causes of land pollution. In this blog, I will show you the effects of land pollution in detail and how it drastically affects the entire ecosystem and threatens the survival of our planet.

Land Pollution Effects

Land pollution is the degradation of the Earth’s land surface due to the accumulation of toxic substances harmful to both man and the ecosystem. The effects of land pollution don’t limit to soil pollution but have serious biological, ergonomic and economic consequences. Let’s have a look at the disastrous effects of land pollution.

Also read : Land Pollution – Causes, Effects and Prevention

Soil Pollution and loss of fertility

Soil pollution is a type of land pollution in which the nutrient composition of the upper layer of the soil, or topsoil, gets destroyed or altered. The prime reasons for soil pollution are overuse of chemical fertilisers, soil erosion due to flowing water, and other pest control tactics. This results in the loss of agricultural area, forest cover, and pasturelands.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, half of the world’s topsoil has been destroyed in the previous 150 years. For 2.5 millimetres of topsoil, the regeneration process takes at least 500 years. Now you can imagine the magnitude of the crisis that we are undergoing.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides destroys essential soil microbes. Destruction of these microbes results in diminishing biodiversity and has disastrous repercussions for soil health. Microorganisms are required for several processes that contribute to soil fertility, including:

  • Nutrient cycling, through which microbes convert nutrients into forms that crops can utilise.
  • Microorganisms degrade hazardous substances that are by-products of agrochemicals, thereby reducing soil contamination. If there aren’t any microbes in the soil, it can drastically reduce its fertility.

Also read: What are Water Pollutants? – Definition, Sources and Types

Poisoning of groundwater

When we inappropriately dispose of hazardous chemicals and other wastes on land or in illegal landfills, the chemicals may eventually seep into the groundwater system. This procedure is known as leaching. It can occur on farms, industrial sites, and landfills, posing a health risk to animals, plants, and humans.

Nutrient pollution, which arises due to farm runoff of chemical fertilisers is a subset of land pollution. The resulting nutrient enrichment of water bodies leads to eutrophication. When humans consume this contaminated water it leads to a variety of health issues. Even in little amounts, increased nitrate levels in water from fertiliser residues can be detrimental to newborns causing Blue Baby Syndrome.

The poisoning of groundwater which is a major source of drinking water for humans creates the worst consequence of land pollution, that is drinking water shortage. Let’s move on to it.

Drinking-Water shortage

Land pollution has the potential to spread in all directions, causing harm to the surrounding ecosystem. It can contaminate water and drastically impair its quality. Surface rainwater runoff carries chemicals and other harmful substances from landfills and solid wastes into rivers and makes the water unfit for human consumption.

Simultaneously, leaching occurs, allowing harmful metals and compounds to penetrate aquifers and water tables. Furthermore, contaminated water evaporates and condenses as precipitation along with the contaminants, perpetuating the pollution and aggravating the drinking water shortage.

Also read: Water Pollution – Effects and Causes

Effect on human health

Many parts of the world, particularly underdeveloped countries and slum areas, have massive amounts of rubbish piled up in the streets. This increases the contact of garbage with humans and the food we consume. These wastes contain hazardous chemicals, insecticides, and metals all of which are harmful to humans.

Land Pollution Effects - garbage pile
Land Pollution Effects – garbage pile

Plastic garbage contains chemicals like acrylic, polyvinyl chloride, polycarbonate, and phthalates. They have the potential to cause cancer, skin ailments, respiratory problems, and birth defects in pregnant women. Upon burning plastics in landfills, these chemicals escape into the air and pollute the air. In some other cases, they seep into water bodies. Ultimately, they reach the human body and damage the internal organs.

Chemical components contained in pharmaceuticals, pesticides and fertilisers, industrial wastes, such as cadmium, asbestos, mercury, cyanide, arsenic, and chromium, have severe impacts on human health. They are carcinogenic and can also cause lung, kidney, and liver damage.

According to a 2015 scientific study, “cancer villages” in China are connected to locations where farming takes place on land poisoned by the overuse of chemical pesticides and other heavy metals. Arsenic, asbestos, and dioxins are the main cause of cancer in Europe. Poisoning by lead and arsenic induce neurological damage and lower the IQ.

Habitat Loss

Wildlife creatures have suffered greatly in recent decades as a result of the continuous threats to their natural habitat and surroundings. Human commercial activities on land have gradually damaged and ruined the environment, forcing wildlife to migrate further away and adapt to new environments. As a result, some species have died while attempting to adapt, some have become extinct. And, others are on the verge of becoming extinct.

land pollution effects - Habitat loss
land pollution effects – Habitat loss

Air Pollution

Landfills and dump sites emit foul odours and stenches in the locations where they are located. Residents in cities and towns near large dump sites and landfill areas have reported excessive levels of a noxious odour. Aside from the unpleasant odour, landfills are constantly burning, contributing to air pollution.

Also read: Air Pollution Effects and Causes – A complete overview

Negative Impact on Tourism Industry

Landfills and abandoned waste disposal within cities generally create a negative picture of the population and the city’s governance. Landfills and garbage sites also degrade air quality and may pose a health risk to humans. As a result, it causes a city to lose its tourist appeal. This results in a loss of tourism revenue for the government.

Shall we wrap up?


Many of the long-term effects of land pollution, such as chemical leaching into the soil, groundwater poisoning are difficult to remediate. The most effective strategy to combat land contamination is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The problem will not aggravate if we increase recycling activities and avoid abuse of soil. Let’s all contribute to cleanup operations wherever feasible and prevent land pollution from getting worse.