Waste Streams and Components of Waste Vary

Economic Characteristics

  • As people get richer,they tend to consumer more goods. This means that developed countries produce more waste than developing
  • The componentsof waste also vary depending on the development level of the country. In developed countries, the main components are paper (31%), organic material (28%) and plastic (11%).
  • In developing countries, the largest components are organic material(64%), plastic (8%) and paper (5%).
  • Waste streamsvary between countries, but there is no clear-cut link to wealth.



  • Amountand type of waste produced varies depending on whether people live in the city or the country – urban dwellers produce more waste than rural People in rural areas produce more organic waste, and people in cities produce more manufactured waste.
  • The facilitiesavailable to people affect the waste streams they use.
  • Dietis likely to affect waste components and



  • Many developed countries have a throw-away culture.
  • Increasing concerns about healthmay cause people to throw away food that is near or just past its sell-by date, resulting in high levels of food waste.
  • People have different attitudes towards the environment, people who are concerned about the environmental impactsof excess waste are more likely to reuse or recycle
  • In some groups, there has been a recent move towards a decrease in consumption and waste as many freegansforage for food, including salvaging it from supermarket bins, repair broken goods and give away thing they don’t need, instead of throwing them away.


Methods of Waste Disposal Environmental Impacts

  • Unregulated- waste is dumped in places that aren’t official disposal sites.
  • Recycling- waste is reprocessed into new
  • Incineration- this is when waste is  It reduces the amount of waste going to landfill, but it emits greenhouse gases and causes air pollution. Waste that is burnt can be used to generate electricity – this is called energy recovery.
  • This reduces use of fossil fuels but burning some waste can release toxic chemicalsinto the air or water.
  • Recovery- this involves using waste instead of new products.
  • Burial- waste is placed in disused mines, quarries or landfill sites.
  • If sites aren’t properly regulated, hazardous chemicals can contaminate groundwater,while gases, such as methane from decomposing waste, cause air pollution.
  • Some countries collect gases for energy production,reducing air pollution and fossil fuel use.
  • Submergence- disposing of waste by dumping it in oceans is illegal, but it is still common in some areas.
  • Submerged waste can release toxicor radioactive substances, damaging ocean
  • Trade- waste can be bought and sold by countries.