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1.4.

9 Waste Disposal & Micro-organisms

Problems with Waste Disposal Suggestions for


Micro-organisms in Waste Waste Minimisation
• Lack of availability of suitable landfill sites Management – Composting
• The toxic or polluting content of fumes from Reduce – use less, minimise waste.
incineration (CO2, other acidic oxides and Bacteria & Fungi
dioxins – produced from burning plastic)
• Decaying waste produces methane gas which Re-use – use again, without changing but maybe
contributes to the “greenhouse gases” Bacteria and fungi are both used in the for a different purpose.
• Harmful substances may leak into decomposition of organic matter in the process of
groundwater supplies (wells, lakes, reservoirs) composting. Recycle – change, recover some material and
• Plants and animals in rivers and lakes may be Compost recycles all the nutrients required for use again.
killed through direct poisoning or plant growth.
eutrophication Fungi break down the ‘tougher’ materials in the
waste such as lignin and cellulose.
Their filamentous structure penetrates the
Possible solutions composting material and helps to improve aeration Vermicomposting
and drainage in the compost heap.
• Alter attitudes to littering, waste minimisation
and disposal through education programmes. A method of producing compost by using worms
• Use micro-organisms to degrade the rubbish to turn biodegradable waste into very high quality
The Compost Heap compost.
and produce fuel pellets.
• Reduce the use of paper and recycle more The compost consists mostly of worm casts and
paper. Since it is aerobic the organic waste mixture to decayed organic matter.
• Replace non-biodegradable materials with be composted must be turned and loosened to
biodegradable ones, e.g. bags made of paper allow air into it.
instead of plastic. Temperatures within a compost heap can reach
• Increase incineration temperatures to avoid 70°C as the bacteria and fungi work to breakdown
the material.
dioxin production and fit catalytic scrubbers
Pathogens e.g. human viruses and infectious
Role of micro-organisms in
inside chimneys.
bacteria, are unable to survive at such high Pollution Control
temperatures.
At Present The temperature at the outside of the heap is Bacteria and fungi break down organic matter
cooler than in the centre, so it is important to mix into compost that recycles all the nutrients required
• Tax has been placed on plastic bags.
the pile to ensure maximum pathogen and weed
• Rubbish sorting at source makes disposal more for plant growth.
seed kill.
efficient e.g. Householders separate metals, This reduces environmental pollution caused by
Keep the pile ventilated or it will become too hot
paper, plastic, glass for recycling and ‘vegetable’ disposal of organic wastes in landfills and streams
for micro-organisms to survive.
waste for composting. or by incineration.