Chapter 2, Section 4:
Solid Waste Management
Solid waste management
is the use of proven, effective tools to reduce the volume and toxicity of solid
wastes while recycling and disposing of what remains in an environmentally friendly
way. The highest priority is source reduction—minimizing what we buy that ends up
being thrown away, like wasteful packaging. After reducing the supply of trash by
avoiding purchases with wasteful content, we can recycle many of our throwaways,
like metal, glass, plastics and paper. Composting uses non-meat table scraps,
leaf and grass cuttings and other organic waste to produce a valuable soil amendment
that is useful in gardens. Solid wastes that MUST go to a dump need to be carefully
monitored in sanitary landfills. These solid waste strategies create many different
kinds of environmental employment opportunities.
The best way to manage waste is to prevent its creation in the first place.
For example, packaging can be reduced or eliminated, and products can be
designed that can be taken apart and reused instead of trashed.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans now
recycle 27% of our wastes, and that amount is expected to grow by 1% per year.
Recycling has also come to include the growing practice of composting, one
of the most popular areas in waste management.
Combustion of wastes for energy production, also called waste-to-energy
incineration or resource recovery, comes from the practice of burning wastes.
This newer form of incineration now manages about 16% of America’s wastes.
Landfills are still the eventual end point for most solid wastes, handling 57%
of our garbage. The nature of sanitary landfills is changing to comply with more
rigorous regulations designed to protect the environment.
More than 250,000 positions nationwide
Private sector - 40%
Public sector - 50%
Nonprofit sector - 10%
Key Job Titles:
- Civil Engineer
- Community Relations Specialist
- Environmental Engineer
- Environmental Technician
- Recycling Coordinator
- Market Developer
- Civil or Mechanical Engineers
- Sanitary Landfill Manager
- Transportation Coordinator
- Compost System Manager
Entry-level salaries range from $22,000 to over $40,000 annually. A 1997 salary
survey of engineers, scientists, and managers in Environmental Protection magazine
revealed average salaries across all sectors of $50,000 for people with six to
ten years of experience. The director of a major metropolitan solid waste utility
earns between $80,000 and $100,000 annually. There are also many hourly wage
positions in the $10 to $12 range.
NAU || EEOP
|| ITEP || AIS
Environmental Education Outreach Program (EEOP)
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP)
PO Box 5768 Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5768
Phone: (928) 523-1275 Fax: (928) 523-1280
Last updated: May 27, 2005