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Functional Elements of Solid Waste Management System

By: Haseeb Jamal / On: Jan 17, 2020 / Solid Waste
Functional Elements of Solid Waste Management

Functional Elements of Solid Waste Management System comprises of six basic elements including:

  1. Generation of the solid waste
  2. On-site handling & storage
  3. Collection
  4. Transfer & transport
  5. Material and resource recovery and
  6. Disposal


Generation of solid waste is a result of natural, human and animal activities. Knowledge of generation of solid waste is important in the planning, designing and operation of solid waste management system. Generation has two aspects: One is the quality of solid waste and the other is the quantity of solid waste. Quality includes the sources, types and typical composition of solid waste along with its properties whereas the quantity represents the generation rates and total quantities and volumes of waste generated.

The handling, storage and separation of solid waste at the source before they are collected is a critical step in the management of residential solid waste.

Waste Handling

Handling refers to activities associated with managing solid wastes until they are placed in the containers used for their storage before collection or return to drop-off and recycling centers. The specific activities associated with handling waste materials at the source of generation will vary depending on the types of waste materials that are separated for reuse and recycling and the extent to which these materials are separated from the waste stream. Depending on the type of collection service, handling may also be required to move the loaded containers to the collection point and to return the empty container to the point where they are stored between collections.

Waste Storage

The first phase to manage solid waste is at home level. It requires temporary storage of refuse on the premises. The individual household or businessman has responsibility for onsite storage of solid waste. For individual homes, industries, and other commercial centers, proper on-site storage of solid waste is the beginning of proper disposal, because unkept solid waste or simple dumps are sources of nuisance, flies, smells and other hazards.


The term “collection” includes not only the gathering or picking up of solid wastes from the various sources, but also hauling of these wastes to the disposal site or transfer station and unloading there. While hauling and unloading are similar for most collection system, the collection or pickup of waste varies with facilities and locations.

Transfer and Transport

Transfer and Transport refers to the means, facilities, appurtenances used to affect the transfer of wastes from one location to another, usually more distant location. Typically, the wastes from relatively small collection vehicles are transferred to larger vehicles and then transported to distant locations.

Resource Recovery and Processing

Resource recovery is a partial solid waste disposal and reclamation process. It can be expected to achieve waste reductions in future landfill volume requirements. Resource recovery must recognize what is worth recovering and the environmental benefits.


Most of the organic content after segregation may be subjected to bacterial decomposition with an end product called humus or compost. The entire process involving both separation and bacterial conversion is known as “Composting” Decomposition of solid waste may be accomplished aerobically or anaerobically.

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