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Waste Management: Good Practice in Research


Waste management is an important scientific undertaking. It revolves around the handing of litter or trash not only to prevent environmental pollution but also to ensure that people are not exposed to diseases and other life-threatening conditions. Waste management includes all the processes that occur from the handling to the disposal of trash. The activities involved in the management of waste include collecting, sorting, transporting, treating, and disposing of waste. The exact processes involved in waste management depend on the nature of the wastes involved, the available resources, and the handling authority. In this paper, good practice in research with regards to waste management is described.

Short description of the subject area

Waste management processes are used to handle different types of wastes to prevent environmental pollution and to secure the health and well-being of the people involved in the entire process. Different types of wastes include liquid waste, solid waste, organic waste, recyclable waste, and hazardous waste. The process of handling these wastes may be long or short depending on the technology used and the extent to which the waste is sorted.

Aims and objectives

The main aim of the paper is to analyze best practices in waste management using some of the latest research papers. Specific objectives include reviewing best practices in solid, liquid, organic, recyclable, and hazardous waste management. An understanding of how these different types of wastes are processed will help individuals and organizations to keep the environment cleaner, less polluted, and more habitable. People can also benefit financially through the handling of waste using the best practices in waste management.

Summary of the Research Papers on the Methodology used

Nine research papers are used to provide information about the best practices in waste management. The nine articles fall into three different groups according to methods used in research. The first group falls under the literature review methodology, while the second and third groups fall under the life cycle assessment and place of research methodologies, respectively. Each of these papers is analyzed below.

Papers based on literature review

Paper #1

Name of the paper Combined material flow analysis and life cycle assessment as a support tool for solid waste management decision making
Authors David A. Turner, Ian D. Williams, and Simon Kemp
Date 2016Waste Management
Publisher Journal of Cleaner Production

The first paper in the literature review category was prepared in 2016 by a team of three experienced environmentalists. Turner et al. (2016) believe that the material flow analysis combined with life cycle assessment can be used as a tool for supporting waste management decision making. Therefore, people involved in waste management should consider materials flow analysis (MFA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) when developing advanced processes that lead to success. Combining different techniques when handling waste is a welcome idea because it increases the person’s or group’s effectiveness in waste management. Combining different techniques also leads to discoveries that increase the appeal of a given waste management approach.

Best practices in waste management include effectiveness, efficiency, time management and cost-saving. Thankfully, people who participate in waste management are always discovering new techniques that can make their work simpler. This is especially the case when they collaborate with other experienced waste management individuals and organizations. Today, many waste products that are not reused will someday be recycled as technological and resource limitations fade

Paper #2

Name of the paper Inventorisation of E-Waste and Developing a Policy – Bulk Consumer Perspective
Authors Senophiyah Mary and Meenambal T.
Date 2016
Publisher Procedia Environmental Sciences

The second paper in the literature review category was published in 2016 by the Procedia Environmental Sciences, a popular scientific journal. The paper investigates the “inventorisation” of electronic wastes (e-wastes) and possible ways of addressing them. Looking at different pieces of literature published in different places and times, Mary and Meenambal (2016) realized that the amount of e-wastes has grown significantly in the past few years due to an increase in the consumption of electronic products all over the world. Therefore, there is a need to develop effective policies that prevent the continued dumping of electronic waste in the environment as they can become hazardous quickly. Electronic wastes may contain heavy elements like lead, chromium, nickel, and mercury making them dangerous to humans, plants and animals.

Electronic wastes are non-biodegradable, which means their negative impact on the environment may continue indefinitely. One of the ways of resolving this problem is creating a policy that guides and directs the utilization and disposal of electronic wastes (Mary and Meenambal 2016). Fortunately, most of the material contained in electronic wastes can be reused or recycled. The lack of appropriate policies and regulations about the issue is responsible for the piling up of the electronic wastes. Effective waste management may entail the use of proper rules and regulations to guide waste disposal and extensive consultations to understand public opinion. Members of the public might have creative ideas about the management of electronic wastes. Without these best practices, electronic waste piles and their hazardous nature will increase.

Paper #3

Name of the paper Towards Sustainable Waste Management through Technological Innovations, Effective Policy, Supply Chain Integration & Participation
Authors Vidyadhar Durgekar
Date 2016
Publisher Procedia Environmental Sciences

The third paper in the “literature review” classification was published in 2016 as well and focuses on the use of technology and other approaches to achieve sustainable waste management. Durgekar (2016) believes that, in addition to technological innovations, people can use effective policies and supply chain integration to facilitate the proper handling of wastes. Undoubtedly, most of the waste material in the environment today comes from the use of finished products. Therefore, if people and organizations are made more responsible for their activities, then waste management processes would be easier; product manufacturers will collaborate with users to ensure best practices in the disposal of wastes. People will also become more creative and innovative when they realize that once they create a specific product, the law will require them to make follow-ups on the same and ensure that the waste is processed properly.

Effective policy, technological innovations, and supply chain integration are some of the available tools that facilitate responsible practices in the field of waste management. The processes encourage collaborative work, effective utilization of resources, and sufficient use of resources. One of the problems that the world faces today is the inappropriate use of resources. Since most countries do not restrict what manufacturers do with the products they create, they have little or no control over the management of wastes there. Countries also suffer from the dumping of used electronics. If such states create more effective and reliable policies through an inclusive process, these issues will become less pertinent in society as manufacturers play a leading role in the resolution of their problems related to waste management.

Papers based on life cycle assessment

As noted earlier, life cycle assessment was the primary data collection methodology in three of the articles used here. For biodegradable products, the decay takes a finite amount of time, and the residue is beneficial to the environment. For example, when food materials decay, they enrich the soil with nutrients that sustain plant and micro-organism life. In some cases, the natural processes of decay and decomposition lead to atmospheric water, which produces rain. Assessing the life cycle of some products, including notable pollutants, can lead to the discovery of knowledge and skills that can help in waste management in the future. For one to develop the best practices in this field, he or she must gather and manipulate as much information as possible.

The Waste Management journal published in 2015, two of the three articles in this category. The Journal of Resources, Conservation, and Recycling published the other paper in 2017. The author considers articles published from 2015 and later because they are likely to contain information about the latest developments in waste management practices. The papers are likely to include new insights into waste management approaches in a diverse and dynamic world. People can use the information contained in these latest publications to generate new ideas that will be useful in creating reliable waste management approaches. Collaboration is the key to resolving most of the earth’s problems, and this is possible only when people share ideas and information freely.

Paper #1

Name of the paper Life cycle assessment of supermarket food waste
Authors Pedro Brancoli, Kamran Rousta, and Kim Bolton
Date 2017
Publisher Resources, Conservation and Recycling

The first paper in this category assesses the lifecycle of supermarket food waste. It was published in 2017 in the Resources, Conservation and Recycling journal to inform environmentalists and inspire them to think differently with regards to the resolution of environmental issues. According to Brancoli, Rousta and Bolton (2017), people can resolve the world’s waste management problems by collaborating more and making deliberate decisions to embrace sustainable practices. At present, only a handful of people and organizations are thinking critically about environmental protection and waste management. Brancoli et al. (2017) also note that although retail activity has created a highly integrated society, it has also caused problems by unleashing various types of waste into the environment. The wastes produced by food retailing influences the supply chain in critical ways; suppliers upstream as well as consumers downstream are affected.

The assessment of the life cycle of some of these retail products leads to significant pieces of information that can influence how people manage wastes. Studying the life cycle of the food items sold through retail also helps waste management experts to understand the different stages that waste products go through and the impact that these processes have on the environment, the people, and biodiversity. If individuals and organizations are to become effective waste handlers, they must understand at what stages these wastes become easier to disintegrate into their different, less-pollutant components (Brancoli et al. 2017). Notably, even seemingly non-pollutant food wastes can become toxic in the environment as they mix with other types of wastes. Such problems can be avoided if people had a better understanding of the life cycle of typical wastes.

Paper #2

Name of the paper Life cycle assessment of construction and demolition waste management
Authors Stefania Butera, Thomas H. Christensen, and Thomas F. Astrup
Date 2015
Publisher Waste Management

The focus of this second paper in the life cycle assessment category is handling wastes that come out construction and demolition processes. Throughout the world, construction and demolition processes yield a wide variety of waste materials. The amount and nature of these waste materials will depend on the extent of the construction or demolition work. Notably, demolition can be natural or artificial, while humans always initiate construction works. One example of an artificial demolition process is when an individual or organization tears down a house for whatever reasons. Natural demolitions, on the other hand, happen when forces of nature like earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and tornados among others destroy existing structures which may include houses, bridges, roads, and others. When natural demolitions occur, governments tend to focus on saving lives and property, and managing the resultant waste is usually the least of their concerns.

Butera, Christensen and Astrup (2015) believe that there is a need to conduct a life cycle assessment of wastes from construction and demolition activities if one is to understand how to handle them. The evaluation of the life cycle of these different products will help environmentalists to realize a quicker technique of dealing with large amounts of construction and demolition wastes. Notably, some of the material recovered in the management of construction and demolition wastes can be reused or recycled, and this is highly encouraged because it manages demand for raw materials thereby easing pressure that people put on these naturally available resources.

Paper #3

Name of the paper Life cycle assessment of integrated waste management systems for alternative legacy scenarios of the London Olympic Park
Authors Olga Parkes, Paola Lettieri, and I. David L. Bogle
Date 2015
Publisher Waste Management

The focus of the third article in the life cycle assessment category considers the life cycle of integrated waste management systems. Unlike the other two papers, the paper looks at alternative legacy scenarios as they apply to the London Olympic Park. According to Parkes, Lettieri and Bogle (2015), integrated waste management systems (IWMs) can have the lowest global warming potential depending on their arrangement. For example, IWMs with incineration and advanced thermal treatment (ATT) can have the lowest global warming potential compared to integrated systems that rely on landfills as the leading waste management approach. Dumps have higher direct emissions and lower avoided emissions compared to other technologically-advanced integrated waste management systems. Therefore, best practices in waste management facilitate the improvement of existing processes and procedures.

The management of wastes requires knowledge of how different chemicals and material react under variable conditions. The understanding helps these individuals to sort out wastes when they encounter it at work. The waste management individual must know how to sort different material according to their characteristics too. He or she must distinguish between content that can be reused or recycled and stuff that cannot. The waste manager should also know how to handle waste such that some of their characteristics are altered. This means that he or she should be in the know about big earth movers and different chemicals and bleaches. The knowledge will be invaluable in sorting waste and managing it well to reduce environmental pollution.

Papers based on 3 Places

Three of the reviewed papers are classified according to place. In other words, while the articles provide general information about waste management, they focus on specific areas. One of the papers focuses on India and the additional two focus on China and Vietnam. The Vietnam paper concentrates on a particular municipality there while the Chinese paper provides general information about waste management throughout the country. Articles that focus on India and China were selected because the two countries are large and dynamic, which means the information contained in these papers can lead to a greater understanding of the management of waste, in general, owing to their selected focus areas.

China and India are among the biggest countries in the world both by land mass and by population. The large population of people, especially in the urban areas in these two countries, lead to the production of large amounts of waste, making life difficult there. For instance, some areas of India’s capital Mumbai are no longer suitable for human habitation due to the presence of hazardous wastes. Improved management approaches and best practices can be useful in handling these pollutants and turning those dumpsites into habitable lands. China is also a big, ever busy economy. The quality of air there has decreased due to extensive industrialization and the utilization of natural resources. Thus, best practices in waste management will be useful in China as well.

Paper #1

Name of the paper China E-waste management: Struggling for future success
Authors Mengjun Chen, Oladele A. Ogunseitan, Huabo Duan, Xianlai Zeng, and Jinhui Li
Date 2018
Publisher Resources, Conservation and Recycling

The first paper in the category “three places” focuses on the management of electronic wastes in China. It looks at the struggles that conservationists experience at the moment and the likelihood of success in the future. Being one of the most industrialized countries in the world, China is among the biggest producers and consumers of electronics. Therefore, there is a large concentration of electronic wastes throughout the country. Although the Chinese people have embraced the reuse and recycling of most wastes, they have not succeeded in achieving 100 percent success (Chen et al. 2018). Nonetheless, the Chinese have created some of the most advanced waste management processes in the world. The systems allow Chinese nationals to handle most of their wastes effectively, a move that reduces e-waste piles in the country.

Chen et al. (2018) believes that people can acquire a great deal of information from the Chinese people. The electronic waste management systems in China are largely effective and reliable, and people adapting them can benefit immensely. The adopters of Chinese processes can use the electronic waste management systems to handle wastes or as incentives for creative and innovative thinking. After all, ideas about the improvement of waste management approaches can be generated by observing existing processes. Even within China, the waste management approaches, systems, and techniques have undergone transformation over the years to become what they are today. The systems are continuously transforming and becoming better because the ideas that people share with each other spark more creativity.

Paper #2

Name of the paper Municipal Solid Waste Management in India: A Few Unaddressed Issues
Authors Tapas Kumar Ghatak
Date 2016
Publisher Procedia Environmental Sciences

The second paper in the “three places” category looks at the waste management techniques and systems used in handling solid waste in India with a particular focus on a few issues that remain unaddressed. As noted earlier, pollution has affected many urban areas throughout India. The population growth in urban areas coupled with technological advancement is partly responsible for this development. People working in urban areas have to contend with foul smells and poor living conditions due to the concentration of waste. Ghatak (2016) believes that municipal solid waste management approaches are partly responsible for the problems experienced in these urban areas. If the municipal council in Mumbai, for example, was effective in its waste management approach, then the pollution of the country’s most populous city will not be as bad as it is today.

Waste management in Mumbai and in many parts of the Indian subcontinent have failed miserably. The problem is exacerbated by bad policies, politicization of environmental protection, and laxity on the part of the local authorities. Waste management best practices dictate that people become active and highly motivated to resolve issues pertaining to waste as soon as they emerge. If the issues are not resolved immediately they will worsen over time making them difficult to deal with. In India, municipal councils took the management of solid waste lightly when the towns and cities in the country were still small. Today, the problem is bigger and more complex, rendering it even harder to solve.

Paper #3

Name of the paper Municipal Solid Waste Management in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, Current Practices and Future Recommendation
Authors R. L. Verma, G. Borongan, and M. Memon
Date 2016
Publisher Procedia Environmental Sciences

The third paper looks into the current practices and future recommendations in the management of solid waste in a Vietnamese city. It provides important insights into solid waste management in this east Asian country and can influence waste management practices in other parts of the world. Verma, Borongan and Memon (2016) believe that it is difficult to manage solid and municipal waste in most parts of the world due to poor planning. Therefore, people should be willing and able to collaborate and share ideas on how these issues can be addressed from an early stage.

Pros and Cons of Different Research Methodologies

The different research methodologies used in the preparation of the articles reviewed here have advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of the papers prepared using the literature review methodology is that they have quality information obtained from authoritative sources. Conducting a literature review is important because it allows those involved to compare and contrast the ideas that others have. The disadvantage of literature review is that is highly dependent on the primary researcher’s accuracy. Therefore, errors made in those researches can be carried forward in the literature review.

The main advantage of the research papers prepared using the life cycle assessment methodology is that they provide critical information about the different processes involved in the transformation of waste from one state to another. An understanding of how these waste products transform from one state to another influences the development of waste management systems. The problem with this approach is that they do not review the life cycle of all potential wastes in the world. Today, there are different types of waste materials, and it is difficult or impossible to assess the lifecycle of each of them.

Lastly, the main advantage of the research papers that use the “place” methodology is that they provide specific case studies. These researches focus on one area and provide in-depth information about how wastes are being handled in that locality. The in-depth information is insightful to those using them and inspires the creation of new and improved waste management approaches. The main disadvantage of this approach is the limited scope or coverage. Papers that focus on a specific place will look at how waste management is being done in that area alone.

Papers based on literature review

Papers based on literature review are three. Their main advantage is that they integrate the ideas, perceptions, feelings, and emotions of different authors and waste management experts. Therefore, literature review lets a researcher gather a lot of information about a given phenomenon. The other advantage of literature review is that papers are always easy to get. Many papers have been written about waste management, and those who want to review literature on this subject can use specific key words to retrieve relevant articles with the aim of conducting a review on them.

The main disadvantage of papers that use a literature review is that is the paper being reviewed was conducted erroneously, then the same problem will be carried forward by the reviewer. The work of a reviewer of literature is to summarize the findings of different authors and to give explanations on where and how different individuals may differ. The other disadvantage of literature review is that it is time consuming. The reviewer must take time to identify relevant key words that he or she must use to retrieve relevant articles. After that, the reviewer must sort the retrieved articles according to different themes so that they make a clear and accurate presentation of information. For this reason, literature review can lead to the preparation of a paper that presents confusing ideas to the reader.

Papers based on life cycle assessment

The main advantage of papers prepared based on the life cycle assessment is that they are mostly primary researches, which means that the findings are original ad can be replicated if another person does the same research using the same approach. Here, the assumption is that the researcher does not make any regrettable errors in his or her research because such errors reduce the validity and authenticity of the findings. Another advantage of life cycle assessment is that it provides in-depth information about the different states that wastes go through. An understanding of these states can help people to deal effectively with different types of wastes.

The main disadvantage of the life cycle assessment papers is that they have a narrow focus. For example, a paper can provide information about the life cycle of supermarket food wastes, which is just a fraction of the food wastes that exist in reality. The lack of extensive focus makes these articles only useful when it comes to handling specific pieces of waste. Another disadvantage is that the life cycle assessment does not necessarily equip one with direct knowledge on how to deal with different types of wastes. Instead, it provides general information that act as the guide for waste management in different parts of the word.

Papers based on places

The papers based on three places can influence decision making about the management of specific types of wastes in different parts of the world. The main advantage of this research methodology is that it is focused on actions being undertaken in the real world. In other words, the approach is almost like a case study, which means that in-depth information is given about the approaches used in waste management in that area. The assessment will include data about what is being done well, what is being done badly, and how improvements could be initiated. Another advantage of papers that focus on a specific area is that they provide original content because they are primary research materials. The author or authors will just need to avoid or minimize errors and biases.

The main disadvantage of this approach is its narrow focus; it only provides information about a specific location and not another. As noted earlier, there are numerous types of wastes in many parts of the world, and narrow case studies will contribute minimally to the resolution of these problems. Another disadvantage of papers that focus on a specific location is that they may be affected by author or researcher biases. Primary and secondary research papers may reflect the biases, believes, and perceptions of the authors, and such prejudices can be transferred to a reader in some cases. Biases are common because two researchers talking about waste management in a given location will always see and interpret things differently.

Selecting the Preferred Research Method

Of the three different methodologies discussed here, the one to use as a best practice in waste management research is literature review. This approach is appropriate because it provides a wide range of information from different quarters. It also contains a variety of information and there is no limit to what the author can include in their presentation. Literature review helps the researcher to understand the latest development in waste management, how different waste management approaches are being used throughout the world, and the successes and failures in waste management. A paper is likely to be more influential when it contains information obtained from authentic primary sources.

Research is an important undertaking not only in waste management, but also in other disciplines. It leads to the unearthing of transformative and interesting information whenever it is applied accurately to any area of concern. The aims and objectives of a study should influence the selected research method. Other factors to consider may include the topic of the study, the duration of the study, the research questions, the available resources, and the people involved in it. Based on the information obtained from comparing the different papers reviewed here, the best methodology to use to obtain information about waste management is literature review.

Comparison Between Papers used # Method

Comparing the different papers, it is evident that those under the literature review approach contain varied and in-depth information. The literature review papers are not restricted; their researchers have interesting topics and look for numerous existing works that consider the same issue. By comparing different works, the authors make important discoveries that can transform waste handling across the globe. The researcher will take his or her time to retrieve existing studies using appropriate key words and phrases. The phrases make it possible to retrieve related articles from different authors, publishers, countries, and time frames. The content of reviewed articles may be erroneous in some cases, especially if the methodology used to collect and analyze data was faulty. However, the possibility of noticing those errors increases significantly as the reviewer compares and various studies.

One can also see literature review articles as the summary of many articles, books, experiments, and other publications. The extensive review of literature, though focused on a specific area, contain information from different authors, time frames, and parts of the world. One can assume that if authors who have never seen each other can produce comparable results when studying the same phenomenon, then their findings are valid. Thus, literature review can corroborate various studies while casting aspersions on those with findings not consistent with existing trends. For example, if the findings of a particular study deviate from what other authors or researches in the same field have stated, the paper might have some issues needing further assessment. The paper may need to be investigated and the research underpinning it redone to ascertain the findings. Updates to the initial publication should be provided in preceding ones.

Selection of Best Paper Applied # Method

The best papers are those produced using literature approach because they are diverse and ambitious. The authors demonstrated some independence and critical thinking in their topic selections and research approaches. The papers compare existing studies and make assumptions about what they have in common. Therefore, they contain new discoveries that can be used to influence waste management practices in the world. The literature review articles are also interesting and appropriate to use because they contain information about the latest development in the area of waste management. People reading the papers will be interested in examining, in more detail, the emerging trends and technologies in waste management. The information provided in the literature review papers can be used in any area in the world to handle any type of waste.

The other papers used are also interesting but they are more appropriate for use in specific situations and places. For example, the papers that focus on the life cycle of different types of wastes can only be used in creating waste management systems that address them. Also, the papers that provide information about solid waste management in India and China can be used in influencing solid waste management practices in different parts of the world. Even so, these approaches may not fit perfectly in other parts of the world because different countries have different problems and circumstances. For example, the waste management approaches used in China may not be appropriate for poor countries because they may require advanced technologies and finances, things that are generally lacking in poor countries. Therefore, the best papers are those which were conducted with a literature review approach. These papers are adaptable and provide more practical information that people from around the world can explore and customize according to their needs.

Reference List

Brancoli, P, Rousta, K & Bolton, K, 2017, ‘Life cycle assessment of supermarket food waste’, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 118, pp.39-46.

Butera, S, Christensen, TH & Astrup, TF 2015, ‘Life cycle assessment of construction and demolition waste management’, Waste Management, vol. 44, pp.196-205.

Chen, M, Ogunseitan, OA, Duan, H, Zeng, X, & Li, J 2018, ‘China e-waste management: struggling for future success’, Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, vol. 139, pp. 48-49.

Durgekar, V 2016, ‘Towards sustainable waste management through technological innovations, effective policy, supply chain integration & participation’, Procedia Environmental Sciences, vol. 35, pp.140-149.

Ghatak, TK 2016, ‘Municipal solid waste management in India: a few unaddressed issues’, Procedia Environmental Sciences, vol. 35, pp.169-175.

Mary, JS & Meenambal, T 2016, ‘Inventorisation of e-waste and developing a policy–bulk consumer perspective’, Procedia Environmental Sciences, vol. 35, pp.643-655.

Parkes, O, Lettieri, P & Bogle, IDL 2015, ‘Life cycle assessment of integrated waste management systems for alternative legacy scenarios of the London Olympic Park’, Waste management, vol. 40, pp.157-166.

Turner, DA, Williams, ID & Kemp, S 2016, ‘Combined material flow analysis and life cycle assessment as a support tool for solid waste management decision making’, Journal of cleaner production, vol. 129, pp.234-248.

Verma, RL, Borongan, G & Memon, M 2016, ‘Municipal solid waste management in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, current practices and future recommendation’, Procedia Environmental Sciences, vol. 35, pp.127-139.

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