What Is Waste Management?
Waste management is also called the waste industry. It includes all activities and tasks related to the prevention, monitoring, treatment, handling, reuse and recycling of solid waste.
At the same time, waste management is a recognized branch of industry. As a sub-area of materials management, it is responsible for the economical and safe disposal of residues from production, waste energy and assets that are no longer usable or are no longer available (waste).
In raw materials-related economic sectors, waste management also has a cost management significance. These relate to the costs of disposal and raw material recovery as well as the costs of disposal or recycling of co-products.
Waste management also belongs to the applied natural sciences. The field is traditionally attributed to civil engineering, due to its close connection to urban planning, wastewater disposal and treatment. At the end of the 19th century, it was recognized that household and industrial waste’s systematic disposal was necessary, especially in large cities.
The Fields of Waste Management
Waste management in itself includes the planning, execution and control of the activities and tasks associated with it. This can consist of waste from households, public areas (parks, roads, etc.), industry, commerce and the service sector.
The organization of waste management can be public, private or mixed. On the economic, scientific and public level the following areas are dealt with:
- the quantities of waste, the types of waste, the composition and origin of the waste
- the separate handling of hazardous and recyclable components from mixed waste
- the possibilities of waste avoidance
- the possibilities of waste recycling and its marketing (e.g. compost, building materials, metals, substitute fuels, etc.)
- the waste disposal:
- Collection and transport (container systems, vehicles, reloading stations)
- Treatment of waste with the aim of recovery (recycling) and disposal (chemical, biological, mechanical or thermal method)
- Permanent storage of waste in landfills (site selection, planning, impact of landfills on the environment, etc.)
- The legal bases of waste disposal, such as the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act (KrWG) or the Ordinance on Commercial Waste Management (GewAbfV)
Important Regulations in Waste Management for Employees
In addition to the legal basis for waste disposal, companies must comply with regulations concerning employees’ health and safety during sorting, transport, and disposal. These regulations for the protection of employees are made up of various sources:
- Occupational Safety Health Act
- Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health
- Biological Agents Ordinance
- Ordinance on hHazardous sSubstances
- DGUV rule 114-601 “Waste Management Sector”
- VDI 2160 “Waste collection in buildings and on land – “Requirements for containers, locations and transport routes”
- Load handling regulation
- Ordinance on Hazardous Goods
Depending on the orientation of the company, other rules and regulations must also be observed.
Monitoring of Waste Management
It is essential to appoint a person responsible for monitoring and controlling all processes, to ensure that everything runs smoothly in waste management. Companies that pose a threat to the environment are required by law to appoint a special waste management officer (waste manager). This is regulated in the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act (KrWG).
The tasks of such an authorized person include:
- Monitoring that all waste is collected, separated according to type and brought to the final collection point following the disposal concept
- Check that sufficient container systems are available
- Ensure that all waste (especially hazardous waste) is collected in the appropriate containers
- Ensures that proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to workers when handling waste and that it is worn
Waste managers are indispensable in waste management to support a company in all disposal-related matters, coordinate measures, and monitor and control them. Their activities also ensure the safety and health protection of employees when handling waste.