Industrial Waste: Types


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When the industrial revolution arrived in the 18th century, it transformed rural areas into industrialized and urban ones. But with this it brought a huge problem and a threat for our environment – Industrial Waste.

The waste produced by the industrial activities is called industrial waste. Industries, mills, mining operations, power plants etc. produce a huge amount of waste. It produces three kinds of wastes - solid, liquid and gas such as chemicals, ashes, industrial effluent, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide etc. Which should be decomposed or managed efficiently to keep ourselves and our environment safe. In this article we will discuss what is industrial waste, types of industrial wastes, management and effects of industrial wastes. 

What is Industrial Waste?  

The waste materials generated by industries or industrial processes, is called industrial waste. It includes chemicals, trash, oils, solvents, dirt and gravel, many harmful gases etc. These are dumped in seas, rivers or land without adequate treatment. Thus, become a large source of environmental pollution. 

Types of industrial wastes 

Industrial waste can be divided into following two types –

  • Biodegradable industrial waste

  • Non – biodegradable industrial waste 

Biodegradable wastes – Those waste materials which can be decomposed into simpler unharmful substances by the action of microorganisms are called biodegradable wastes. Some industries such as the paper industry, food industry, sugar industry, wool industry etc. mostly produce biodegradable industrial wastes. Management of these wastes can be done at low cost and easily. 

Non-biodegradable wastes – Non-biodegradable waste cannot be further decomposed via the action of the microorganisms. Such waste is the major source of toxins in the landfills. Chemicals, metals, plastics, paints, rubber etc. are examples of non-biodegradable wastes. These materials can remain as landfills for thousands of years without any damage. Toxins from metals and plastics get soaked into the earth and pollute the soil and water sources. Cleaning materials such detergent, phenols etc. producing industries, coal industries, dying industries etc. produce a large amount of non-biodegradable industrial waste. These types of wastes are difficult to manage and very toxic in nature. 

Effects of Industrial Waste 

Industrial waste is very harmful for us and our environment. Few impacts are stated below –

  • Liquid industrial waste which is thrown into the sea is at an alarmingly dangerous level for marine ecosystems. 

  • Industries release many harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides etc. which cause air pollution. 

  • In industrial wastewater nitrates and phosphates are there which often cause eutrophication. 

  • Generally, air around industries is highly polluted and causes skin, eyes, throat, nose and lungs diseases.

  • Industries use large quantities of water and also release a huge quantity of wastewater which contain many harmful chemicals and heavy metals. This wastewater pollutes natural sources of water and ultimately our health and environment. 

  • It is one of the main causes of global warming. 

  • Industrial wastewater destroys useful bacteria and other microorganisms present in soil. 

  • Some industries cause sound pollution as well. 

  • Industrial wastes and industries are destroying natural habitat of many species and responsible for wildlife extinction. 

Proper disposal and treatment is the only solution of prevention from effects of industrial wastes. 

Management of Industrial Waste  

Management of industrial solid waste is not the responsibility of local bodies or governments. Industries which are generating these solid wastes should manage such wastes by themselves. They need to take authorization from the pollution control board as well. Different procedures and methods are used to manage industrial waste. Although some basic steps involved in all processes are the same. Those basic steps are as follows –

  • Analysis or Segregation 

  • Collection 

  • Transportation 

  • Recovery 

  • Recycling 

  • Disposal 

Analysis or Segregation – Industrial waste is segregated or analyzed, and some biodegradable wastes or recyclable material are kept separately. Industries should segregate waste materials in different categories such as biodegradable, non-biodegradable, hazardous waste etc. 

Collection and Transportation – Industrial waste must be collected and transported to waste management plants. 

Recovery – In waste management plants recovery should be done. It means useful materials should be recovered from industrial wastes during treatment in waste management plants. 

Recycling and Disposal – If during recovery we get any useful materials then recycling should be done and disposal should be done of waste and harmful materials. 

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