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Solid Waste Management | English Lesson

Jul 19, 2021

This is podcast number three, and today our topic is solid waste management, and by solid waste I mean garbage––refuse––trash!  We humans produce a lot of solid waste--far too much in fact––and that creates all kinds of problems for society, and for our planet, and economists are faced with the challenge of creating incentives for people to create less waste overall, and to dispose of it responsibly.


Let’s begin with our key vocabulary. Listen now to these words and expressions along with their definitions. You will hear them used later in context.

  • Solid waste: You probably know what this is, but remember the synonyms garbage and trash.
  • Incinerate: to destroy by burning
  • Air pollution: a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air
  • Dumpsite: a piece of land where waste materials are dumped
  • Dispose of: to get rid of, to throw away
  • Landfill: a place to leave waste material and cover it with soil

Solid waste management mostly deals with municipal solid waste, which is the majority of waste that is created by households, industry, and commerce. Waste management is very expensive for municipalities.

In most developed economies, garbage trucks collect solid waste left outside of homes and businesses. That waste is often incinerated, which means that the waste is burned at high temperatures, sometimes in special plants which produce electricity. When you incinerate waste, you can reduce the volume from 80 to 95 percent.

Not all countries manage their waste disposal well. Some researchers estimate that worldwide approximately 25% of all the municipal solid waste is not collected at all, and a further 25% is mismanaged after collection, which means that it is often burned in open and uncontrolled fires–– creating terrible air pollution––or it can be dumped at informal dumpsites, instead of being disposed at formal, managed landfills.


  • Incinerate: to destroy by burning
  • Air pollution: a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air.
  • Dump: to deposit garbage
  • Dumpsite: a piece of land where solid waste is dumped.
  • Dispose of: to get rid of, to throw away.
  • Landfill: a place to dump waste material and cover it with soil.


That is all for today. The “English for Economists” podcast is new, so share the good news with your friends and colleagues. If you have questions or comments, write to English lessons for Economists. It would be great to hear from you.

Image credit: CC Jason Lawrence

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