What Is the Meaning of Municipal Solid Waste?

In the world where millions of people live today, every product produced to raise the living standards of people is finally left to nature as mountains of solid waste which is one of the important challenges for the environment. Although the issue of waste is the responsibility of all humanity, today it is mainly the responsibility of local governments and municipalities that manage cities.

Let’s start with solid waste…

Solid waste is defined as the range of garbage materials that are discarded as unwanted and useless. Solid waste is generated from industrial, residential, and commercial activities in a given area, and handled in a variety of ways. Garbage is mainly considered as a solid waste that includes wastes from our houses (household waste), food wastes, wastes from offices, schools, etc. (municipal wastes), and wastes from factories and industries (industrial wastes). Other than that, oil, medical waste, industrial waste, and hospital waste are called hazardous waste. The type of waste is based on material, such as paper, glass, plastic, metal, and organic waste.

Municipal Solid Waste


According to the definition and type of waste, municipal solid waste is primarily waste produced by domestic households, although it also includes some commercial and industrial wastes that are similar in nature. We can basically say that municipal solid waste consists of everyday items we use and then throw away, such as product packaging, grass clippings, bottles, furniture, clothing, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. These come from our homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. Almost everything humans do leaves behind some kind of waste. This is why municipal solid waste reflects the culture that produces it and affects the health of the people and the environment surrounding it.

Municipal Solid Waste Management

Globally, waste governance is becoming formalized and regionalized. In industrialized cities’ citizens produce far more waste than other citizens do, waste tends to be managed officially at a municipal or regional scale.

Furthermore, we can say that municipalities are generally responsible for waste management. They have to provide an effective and efficient system for the inhabitants. Though, they are often facing many problems beyond the ability of the municipal authority to handle the municipal solid waste. This is essentially due to financial resources, complexity, and lack of organization. But inefficient waste management causes modification of the ecosystems including water, air, and soil pollution. In this way, it represents a real threat to human health.

Recently about 2.01 billion tons of municipal solid waste is produced yearly worldwide. An estimated 50% of today’s waste is composted, recycled, and ends up in the overcapacity landfill. This leaves a remaining 50% of total waste generated worldwide which is not managed properly, and instead dumped in rivers, on land and seas, as well as openly burned.  

One of the major environmental problems is the collection, management, and disposal of municipal solid waste in urban areas. Lack of municipal solid waste disposal and management is leading to significant environmental problems. Proper solid waste collection, management, and disposal are some of the most important things for public health, safety, and environmental quality. 

The waste streams originating from industrial sources are different from the hazardous substances in household waste. That is a global issue and can cause real problems for many industries from factories to farms and hospitals to hotels. Improper disposal of municipal solid waste can cause unsanitary conditions, and these conditions in turn can lead to pollution of the environment. It’s really important to have a solid waste management solution.

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