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How Is Waste Management Affected By Socioeconomic Factors?

3738 words - 15 pages

How Is Waste Management Affected By Socioeconomic Factors?


One of the most pressing environmental issues facing the world today is the issue of waste management and disposal. This problem crosses all international borders and touches the lives of all of the world’s peoples. Waste management encompasses everything from collection and handling to disposal by incineration, landfill and other methods, and recycling. Also included are the serious associated implications for the health of people and the environment. As waste producing activities proceed and intensify, the world community will be faced with hard choices on how to best manage and dispose of wastes. These decisions should be based on hard science and sound management practices. However, there are geopolitical dimensions to be found in the decision-making process of waste management and disposal. The purpose of this study has been to determine how geopolitical factors affect waste management on global and local scales. Specifically, this investigation has been guided by looking at how social and economic factors affect global and national waste management practices.

By looking at the various aspects of waste management, this investigation has determined that decision-making is greatly affected by socioeconomic factors. Waste disposal practices are shown to be directly associated with the extent to which a nation or region is industrialized, or developed. This study presents evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that waste disposal, incineration, landfill site selection, and many of the other areas of waste management are indeed associated with ethnic, racial, regional and national considerations.

This study concludes that international waste management issues are also international political and social issues. Issues of race, class, and relevant position among the world’s nations undermine the scientific basis that should inform and guide waste management and disposal. It can be stated without reservation, that as long as waste management decisions are impinged upon by factors other than science, those decisions are unwise and ultimately harmful to the world ecology. Further, as regions and nations persist in making and executing waste disposal policy on the basis of relative positions of power, the incentive to allow science to reveal new, globally beneficial methods will be thwarted.


Waste management and disposal, and landfill site selection, have become issues in the 21st century that are clearly in the arena of discrimination based on national origin, social class, and race. Neighborhoods seek less politically connected, poorer neighborhoods in which to dump their trash. Cities seek out less affluent areas to which to transport their refuse. States export tons of garbage daily to other states or nations. Nations transport more tons of waste to less powerful nations. This is the problem of waste management and...

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