Global waste production has increased rapidly in recent years, and there aren't signs of this trend slowing down. In fact, according to Statista, global municipal solid waste generation is expected to increase by approximately 70% to 3.4 billion metric tons by 2050. This is due to various factors, such as urbanization, population growth, and changes in consumer shopping habits.
With such massive volumes of waste being generated, the waste management profession has become ever more critical.
That said, most people wrongly believe that waste management professionals merely cart junk to a centralized dumping place. Far from it: today's waste management professionals do more than that. Highly trained and experienced, these professionals keep modern society functioning by reducing pollution through effective waste management best practices such as recycling and reuse.
Read on to learn more about what kind of work waste management is.
The Waste Management Career Field
The waste management industry is enormous, and is composed of workers who handle waste in its different forms and stages of disposal or treatment. Waste management professionals, from refuse collectors who pick up garbage at commercial and residential locations to chemists who analyze organic and inorganic waste, work toward a common objective: preserving human health and the environment.
The waste management field is divided into several different categories. Waste management workers may handle hazardous or nonhazardous waste and may be employed in the public or private industry. Waste management careers could also focus on air, soil, or water concerns.
There are several choices for those interested in the field, and the different types of jobs have varying requirements. If you enjoy working outdoors and aren't looking to pursue postsecondary education, you may find jobs such as landfill workers and refuse collectors. With some postsecondary education, the opportunities increase. For example, you could become an equipment operator in landfills and wastewater treatment plants. You could also become a scientist who studies the effect of different types of waste on humans and the environment or an engineer who develops new waste management systems, among other choices.
The wages of waste management professionals vary with the type of job they do and the sector they work.
What are the Responsibilities of Waste Management Professionals
Detailing the exact duties and tasks that waste management professionals undertake can be challenging, given that the field encompasses and interacts with numerous other fields. However, some of the common tasks these professionals undertake include:
- Garbage and waste collection: Waste management professionals collect different types of garbage from commercial, residential, and even government agencies and oversee its transportation to a centralized place where it's either treated or properly disposed of.
- Establishment of waste management policies: They plan, implement, and coordinate comprehensive waste management systems that are tailored to maximize waste prevention, recycling, and reuse opportunities.
- Develop hazardous waste disposal procedures: Besides facilitating the removal of different types of materials, waste management professionals also create rules for ensuring the removal is efficient and safe. Moreover, they ensure that those rules comply with local and federal statutes.
- Manage waste facilities: From coordinating the waste collection process and supervising public and sanitation facilities to ensuring proper disposal of organic and inorganic materials, waste management professionals ensure that equipment and waste management plants run effectively.
- Sell waste to third parties: One effective way waste management professionals deal with waste and byproducts is by selling them to others who put them to better use. After all, one man's trash could be another man's treasure.
- Develop recycling initiatives: This is another task that waste management professionals do. They develop recycling programs to minimize the usage of landfills.
- Educate the public on how to properly manage their waste: These professionals also educate businesses and individuals on the best way to dispose of various types of waste.
Why Waste Management Profession is Important
Given the amount of garbage and toxic substances that are generated and not properly disposed of, recycled, or reused, it's inevitable that some of these substances may have a negative impact on human and environmental health. Some of the adverse effects include:
- Air contamination
- Water contamination
- Soil contamination
- Respiratory syndromes
- Reproduction problems
- Pest multiplication
- Premature wildlife death
Fortunately, there are ways of ensuring these effects don't occur or, at the very least, minimizing their impact. Thanks to the increasingly developing field of waste management, most of these issues can be mitigated. Waste management professionals use best practices to properly manage different types of waste, helping ensure that they don't harm the environment.
Why Get Into Waste Management
You may be wondering what would motivate someone to join this seemingly "messy" field. Well, for one, waste management is a well paying profession. According toSalary.com, the average salary for a waste management manager is $114,315. The salaries do tend to differ with the job type and the sector in which they work. For instance, theannual average wage for refuse and recyclable material collectors is $42,780.
The prospects also look good if you're considering owning a waste management business. A new report estimates that the revenue for solid waste management will hit the $530 billion mark by 2025.
However, joining the profession for the money is not the only reason why you should join this line of work. The waste management profession can also be rewarding in terms of the social and environmental impact you make. A desire to help protect the environment is another driving force behind why some people join this profession.
Lastly, the tasks that waste management professionals undertake impact humanity as a whole. When trash isn't properly managed, it can not only cause harm to the environment, but it can also harm people and animals. Waste management professionals can help ensure people are healthy by implementing best practices for handling and treating waste.
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