One of the most important environmental problems in the world is waste. The world population is growing speedily and recently reached seven billion people. As a result, the amount of waste produced by people is also increasing rapidly. This problem affects all countries without exception because people cannot live without producing waste. Moreover, people are also generating new types of waste, such as the space waste, the chemical waste, and the nuclear waste. For instance, as a result of development of space industry, in the recent decades the amount of the space waste has increased significantly. Some countries or companies left their old satellites, idle equipments in the open space, which then became space debris. This space debris can collide with working space station and damage them. In addition, sometimes these wastes enter the atmosphere and do not burn during their falling, so this debris can fall on the earth and kill or damage someone (Chen 2011). It has been suggested, therefore, that waste problem is more serious than people think; hence, this problem needs rapid response. However, because of word count limitations, this essay will describe and explain in depth only one type of waste - municipal waste or municipal solid waste (MSW) - in the particular country - the United States of America (U.S.A.). Also, the purpose of this paper is to evaluate three different solutions to the problem of municipal waste in the U.S.A. They are composting, incineration, and recycling waste. Firstly, this paper will briefly explain current situation in the United States and explain municipal waste in depth; followed by a particular explanation of each solution. Finally, this essay will evaluate solutions according to the criteria of: the most effective, the most profitable, and the most beneficial to the environment. It will be argued that composting is the most feasible solution because many types of waste can be removed from the waste stream; it is cost-effective and has a minimal impact on the environment.
Municipal waste is the type of waste that is produced by society and affects both public health and the environment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) (2014) defines municipal solid waste as “everyday items people use and then throw away, such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries.” MSW is also called as trash or garbage in the public. This type of waste is produced almost by everyone. For example, if space waste can be produced only by space industry; or industrial waste mostly is produced by factories or some workplaces; the production of municipal waste does not depend on a particular area of working. Meanwhile, U.S.A. is one of the largest generators of the garbage in the world.
Figure 1. Municipal Solid Waste Generation Rates between 1960 and 2011 in the
U.S.A. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2013, 1.