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Source: Data from Franklin Associates, Ltd., 1992, Characterization of municipal solid waste in the United States: 1992 Update (EPA/530-R-92-019, NTIS PB92-207-166, U.S. EPA).

Note: Derived from Table 10.2.1.

Source: Data from Franklin Associates, Ltd., 1992, Characterization of municipal solid waste in the United States: 1992 Update (EPA/530-R-92-019, NTIS PB92-207-166, U.S. EPA).

Note: Derived from Table 10.2.1.

tion and support of disease vectors. Preventing the remaining potential negative effects of solid waste remains a substantial challenge.

Solid waste can degrade the esthetic quality of the environment in two fundamental ways. First, waste materials that are not properly isolated from the environment (e.g., street litter and debris on a vacant lot) are generally unsightly. Second, solid waste management facilities are often considered unattractive, especially when they stand out from surrounding physical features. This characteristic is particularly true of landfills on flat terrain and combustion facilities in nonindustrial areas.

Solid waste landfills occupy substantial quantities of space. Waste reduction, recycling, composting, and combustion all reduce the volume of landfill space required (see Sections 10.6 to 10.14).

Land on which solid waste has been deposited is difficult to use for other purposes. Landfills that receive unprocessed MSW typically remain spongy and continue to settle for decades. Such landfills generate methane, a combustible gas, and other gases for twenty years or more after they cease receiving waste. Whether the waste in a landfill is processed or unprocessed, the landfill generally cannot be reforested. Tree roots damage the impermeable cap applied to a closed landfill to reduce the production of leachate.

Solid waste generates odors as microorganisms metabolize organic matter in the waste, causing the organic matter to decompose. The most acute odor problems generally occur when waste decomposes rapidly, consuming available oxygen and inducing anaerobic (oxygen deficient) conditions. Bulky waste generally does not cause odor problems because it typically contains little material that decomposes rapidly. MSW, on the other hand, typically causes objectionable odors even when covered with dirt in a landfill (see Section 10.13).

Combustion facilities prevent odor problems by incinerating the odorous compounds and the microorganisms and organic matter from which the odorous compounds are derived (see Section 10.9). Composting preserves organic matter while reducing its potential to generate odors. However, the composting process requires careful engineering to minimize odor generation during composting (see Section 10.14).

In addition to odors, solid waste can cause other forms of pollution. Landfill leachate contains toxic substances that must be prevented from contaminating groundwater and surface water (see Section 10.13). Toxic and corrosive products of solid waste combustion must be prevented from entering the atmosphere (see Section 10.9). The use of solid waste compost must be regulated so that the soil is not contaminated (see Section 10.14).

While avoiding the potential negative effects of solid waste, a solid waste management program should also seek to derive benefits from the waste. Methods for deriving benefits from solid waste include recycling (Section 10.7), composting (Section 10.14), direct combustion with energy recovery (Section 10.9), processing waste to produce fuel (Sections 10.8 and 10.12), and recovery of landfill gas for use as a fuel (Section 10.13).

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