Methods of solid waste disposal and their health implications


Solid waste is the new word for refuse in the community resulting from human day to day activities. World Health Organizations (1971) as cited by Odigwe (2016) defined solid waste as unwanted, or any substance or discarded material arising from human activities and are not free flowing. Solid waste commonly referred to as refuse. In the actual sense it means all these and others. Waste is said to be useless, rejected as spoiled and no longer needed for it original purpose. Waste has no universally acceptable definition. It has different meanings for different people. In general, one can say that waste is “unwanted”. For the man or woman anymore from the first users and hence it is therefore thrown away. However, the word ‘unwanted’ is subjected because waste could have value for another person in a primary or exclusively using waste material (Aibor, 2009).

Park (2007), describe waste as product that result from human activities that cannot readily, safely or profitably be used by the producer. In order words, waste is inevitably a part of production and a resource in the wrong, place, which is thrown away as worthless. It is also a subject to value judgement of the primary owner or consumer.

Olojoba (2009), stated that wastes are substance produce in man’s day to day activities, through the process of consumption, recreation, production etc. which are unwanted and are no longer useful to originator. The accumulation of waste product and their indiscriminate disposal create grave hazard to health.

 Solid waste

Solid waste as useless, unwanted or discarded material that arise from man’s activities and are not free flowing and it include deposited waste particle even when temporarily suspended in air water (Odigwe, 2016).

 Classification of solid waste

According to Oreyemi (2005), solid wastes are classified according to how and where (source) they are generated

  1. Domestic/household solid waste: include the following
  • Garbage e.g. yam peal, orange peel, left-over food etc.
  • Rubbish e.g. cartoon paper, plastic, metal scrap, broken bottles etc.
  • Bulky waste e.g. abandoned refrigerators, wheel barrow, chair etc.
  1. Industrial solid waste e.g. broken glasses, metal scraps textile papers etc.
  2. Hospital/clinical solid waste e.g. discard syringes, use bandages, dressing material etc.
  3. Agricultural solid waste e.g. banana peel, cassava peal, animal propping etc.
  4. Demolition/Construction solid waste e.g. broken bricks pieces of roofing sheet, iron rods etc.

 Methods of solid waste disposal

Solid waste disposal methods according to Aibor and Olorunda (2007) can be grouped under sanitary and insanitary methods.

  1. Sanitary methods are:
  2. Incineration
  3. Compositing
  4. Pulverization
  5. Sanitary landfill/controlled tipping
  6. Pyrolysis

Incineration: Incineration is the complete destruction of combustible refuses by burning, leaving behind residue called ashes in the instrument known as incineration. The burning requires a very high temperature of about 15000F – 24000F. However,it is a sanitary method of refuse disposal because only the combustible and organic waste can burn. It is an effective method for disposing/treating infectious hospital waste (Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, 2012).

Composting: The process of composting is the attempt of controlling the natural decomposition of organic matter in a warm and moist environments through the action of bacteria, fungi, moulds and other organisms present in the refuse. Remnants of food and vegetables generated at homes can be disposed of into 3-4 pits of 1.5metres deep to allow for rotation. The content will be gradually reduced to a black mass or organic fertilizer, which could be used in agricultural after about (2) months (Odigwe, 2016).

Pulverization: This method is commonly used in advanced countries. Solid waste are heated, dried and fed into a grinder. The incombustible materials are sorted out first before feeding into the grinder. The wastes are grinded into a powder form. The resultant material can be used to fill depressed or lowland. With this, large quality of refuse is reduced into smaller volume (Park, 2012).

Sanitary landfill/controlled tipping: As the name implies, it is sanitary tipping of refuse to reclaim pits, lowland, pools, ditches and wells in which the deposition of the refuse is controlled, earth is spread in large as the refuse is deposited in the pit and earth is also used to cover the surface at the end (Festus, 2009).

Pyrolysis: This is a method of refuse treatment by a high temperature fire burning, to reduce, the refuse to ashes that can be made use of in the farm land or for the reclamation of depressed land (Olojoba, 2009).

  1. Insanitary method are:
  2. Open dumping
  3. Burying
  4. Burning
  5. Barging into the sea
  6. Hog feeding

Open dumping: Is the most insanitary method that created public health nuisance. It is a method of disposal in which refuse is dumped in open land uncontrollable without regards for the public health implication. As the name denoted open dumping is an insanitary practices and should not be encourage because, the process is uncontrollable thereby creating nuisances (Obomeokpere, 2015).

Burying method: ­­­­­­­­­­This is a method of solid waste disposal by burying. It is the best method for disposing of dead animals. This involves digging of pit sufficient to contain the intended refuse to be disposed off and there after covering it up with earth to prevent domestic animals from rooting them up. A hole or ditch in the compound can be filled up in this manner (Odigwe, 2016).

Burning method: This involves burning of refuses especially combustible refuses like paper, dry leaves, rags etc.The refuses are gathered in particular place, preferably at the rear of the house and burnt off. The residues are buried to prevent air pollution. It is mostly used in rural areas (Unuraye, 2005).

Bagging into the sea method: Is a method of disposing solid waste by throwing them away into the sea, after carrying them to a reasonable distance from the coast e.g. 16.20km inside the sea on barges. This method is mostly practiced in community very close to the coastal sea (Sidhar, 2009).

Hog feeding method– This method is a method of solid waste disposal whereby garbage’s/agriculture waste are used to feed animals such as goat, pig, cattle, dogs, etc. (Sidhar, 2009).

Health implications of solid waste disposal

Many diseases that afflict man in his environment come as a result of poor management of waste. Waste if allowed to accumulate represent a grave hazard because it decomposes and favour fly breeding and attract rodents and vermins which may lead to diseases’ outbreak. However, here are some of the methods if not properly handled can lead to public health implication.

1.Incineration method

  • If not properly handled the resultant ashes may lead to eye & throat irritation.
  • Pollution of air due to malfunction of the machine.

2. Composting method

  • It attract flies and rodent if not buried properly
  • It brings about emission of offensive odour.

3.Sanitary landfill/controlled tipping

  • Pollution of underground water as a result of leachate.
  • It can degenerate into opening dumping if not properly handled.
  • Emission of offensive odour may occur.

4.Open dumping method

  • Breeding of mosquito which can transmit disease.
  • It can lead to blocked drains during raining season and also lead to flooding.
  • Obstructing moving vessels.

5.Hog feeding/animal

  • Garbage may contain dangerous item which can harm the animals.
  • It causes trichinosis in animals which affect man through consumption of animals


Waste may either occur in gaseous, liquid or solid form. Waste has interchangeably been used with other words like refuse, excreta or sewage. Waste is a substance produced in man’s day to day activities through the process of consumption, recreation, production etc. which are unwanted and are no longer useful to man. There are different methods of solid waste disposal which include; burial method, composting method, burning method etc. The health implications of the solid waste disposal methods include; it decompose and favour fly breeding, it attract rodents and vermins, it increase the possibility of water and soil pollution, odour, smoke and particulate matter pollutes the environment when heap of refuse is set on fire and blockage or road and drains leading to traffic congestion and flooding. In addition appropriate technology should be employed in waste disposal management and funds should be allocated for the provision of waste disposal equipment and employment of waste management personnel. It is recommended that proper provision of sanitary waste bins should be adequately made and positioned in strategic places or locations.


From the foregoing, it has been found that there are challenges hindering proper waste disposal in developing countries like Nigeria. This has led to poor waste disposal which has been described as one of the most insanitary conditions that create public health hazards, nuisances and pollution of the environment. This should be outlawed and replaced by sound procedures. In addition, proper disposal of waste should be encouraged by individuals, corporate bodies and the government. Appropriate technology should be allocated for the provision of waste disposal equipment and employment of waste management personnel.


As a result of the challenges and the health implication of the waste disposal method following are hereby recommended.

  1. Health Education should be given to the general public on the implication of indiscriminate disposal of waste in environment.
  2. A monthly environmental sanitation exercise should be properly and adequately carried out.
  3. The Local Government should allocate and use financial resources for waste disposal purposes.
  4. More sanitary waste bins should be adequately provided and positioned in strategic locations/places.
  5. Skilled personnel should be employed to dispose off the waste and to carry out the method effectively.



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Albor, M.S.&Olorunda, J.O.(2007).A technical handbook of environment health in the 21st century for professionals and student, Lagos: His Mercies.

Cunningham, W.P.& Cunning, M.A. (2010).Environmental health science: A global concern (11th ed.).  New York: McGraw Hill.

Environment Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON 2012). Practice Guide for Environmental Health Officers in Nigeria.

Festus, E.D. (2009).Handbook on building Sanitation. Port-Harcourt: Pautimatex Printers.

Park, K. (2012).Preventive and social medicine (22nd ed.), New Delhi: BanarsidasBhanot.

Obomeokpere, O.N. (2015).A comprehensive approach to environmental health professionals in West Africa, Benin City: Ambik Press Ltd

Odigwe, S. O. (2016). A modern comprehensive approach to waste management. Ughelli: Obos Printing

Olojoba, A.O. (2009).Millennium technology in waste management the environment pollution mitigation. Ughelli: AmaOhoror

Onojeharho, D. (2011). Public health companion. Ughelli:  Ama Ohoror

Sidhar, M.K.C.(2009): Healthcare wastes management, A handbook for developing countries. Ibadan: University Press

Unuraye, O. (2005): Fundaments of industrial and environmental health management.

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