Solid waste in urban settlements has become a principal problem and headache of local governments around the world. Until a couple of decades ago, the solution consisted of collecting and transporting the waste from urban areas to landfills where it was simply buried. Increasing environmental consciousness, coupled with a limited supply of suitable landfills, has raised the price of waste disposal to a level that makes it convenient to look at solid waste not simply as worthless refuse but as a source of raw materials and energy. The growth of modern economies has occurred in association with consumerism, which, in turn, has spurred a mentality of discarding goods containing considerable amounts of recoverable resources, from paper to glass, to metals, and finally, to energy (potential fuel). A new economic sector devoted to recycling was thus born. In spite of private entrepreneurship and ingenuity, the management of solid waste is a daily concern of local governments for a relentlessly growing problem that risks suffocating communities, especially when the disposal network breaks down for even a few days.
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