The solid waste management of municipal waste has initially four components: recycling, composting, disposal, and waste-to-energy via incineration. However, further studies revealed that there is no single approach that can be truly effective in the proper disposal of waste. That is why the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States federal government came up with four levels of Waste Management Hierarchy.
The levels are in the order of from most preferred to least preferred. Here they are: source reduction and reuse, recycling and composting, energy recovery, and treatment and disposal. Obviously, the least preferred of this is treatment and disposal, which is what mostly happens to nonbiodegradable materials such as plastic bags, which is why there is a strong push from environmental advocacies to completely scrap the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and malls. But if you do have plastic bags at home, you can simply reuse it for storing items in your basement or the attic. There can be no environmentally sound method to dispose plastic materials.
While reduction of waste and reusing the waste is ideally what the federal government and the EPA want, this is not easy nor even possible in some cases. Excess food that was spoiled or has been left in the refrigerator for too long can no longer be edible enough for the occupants of the house or even for their pets. This belongs to the garbage can already. So, how can any household reuse spoiled food? The only way for this food to complete its biological cycle is to be turned and mixed into a compost.
When you weigh and measure these four levels of hierarchy that the EPA approved of, the most practical, the easiest, and probably the soundest approach would be to recycle the waste or turn it into compost. To do that, there should be political will in your municipality and cooperation among the occupants of the household to recycle the waste you produce. Without proper coordination with the municipality under which you belong to and among your housemates, it would be impossible to segregate the garbage you produce in your house and turn that into compost.
Effective waste management is really all about one’s determination to succeed. Without which, there is no “management” to speak of. While it is easy to dispose the garbage in landfills (even environmentally sound ones) or even incinerate them, the process is taxing to the environment and risky for one’s personal health.