Solid waste management and solid waste treatment services collect, process, and dispose of solid waste. Typically, a solid waste management and treatment service helps municipalities businesses to manage solid waste by coordinating several activities. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these activities include: source reduction, recycling and composting, and disposal in landfills or waste combustors. Source reduction alters the design, manufacture, or use of products to reduce the amount and toxicity of trash or garbage. Recycling diverts items such as paper and metals from the waste stream. Solid waste collection and scrap collection allows recycled materials to be processed into new products. Composting is a naturally-occurring process that decomposes organic waste to produce a humus-like substance. Proper solid waste disposal requires waste characterization, the description of chemical and physical properties, either directly or indirectly.

Training and Education Programs

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Integrated Waste Services Association (IWSA) develop training and education programs for solid waste management and solid waste treatment services. These programs are designed to prevent and reduce exposure to toxic materials or hazardous substances. In some cases, a solid waste treatment service can process materials such as batteries and tires. Solid waste management and treatment services can also assist with closure of landfills and perform groundwater monitoring and life cycle assessment. ASTM International (formerly called the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Technical Committee D34 publishes standards relating to solid waste management and solid waste treatment services, including ASTM D3987 and ASTM E1109.

Certification

The International Standards Organization (ISO) provides guidelines for the certification of solid waste management and solid waste treatment services. These guidelines include ISO 9001:2000 for quality management and ISO 14001:2004 for environmental management. To meet various regulatory requirements, solid waste management and treatment services hire trained personnel. For example, a waste management service may hire an environmental engineer with a degree in either civil engineering or environmental engineering. Degree programs in these fields are accredited ABET, formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.