Waste management is highly context specific. Therefore it is important to distinguish between the conditions in the Global North and the Global South. Recent ILO figures suggest that 24 million people around the world are involved in the informal waste recycling sector, 80% of whom are waste pickers. Some estimates say that 1% of urban population in developing countries makes their primary household income through informal sector waste management activities. In Latin America alone, 4-5 million waste pickers earn their livelihood by being a part of the global recyclables supply chain.
Municipal budgets in the Global South are often limited and only a small percentage of that budget is assigned to waste management as compared to other municipal services. In the Global North waste management is recognized as a necessary public good and there is a greater willingness to pay for this service. Solid waste management (e.g. waste collection, transportation and recycling) is generally more labour intensive than in North America and Europe.
Urbanization in the Global South is often haphazard and unplanned; creating pockets of high and low income neighbourhoods. This creates logistical issues for the waste management service provision limiting options for viable waste collection and transportation. It is often the informal sector that steps in to fill this service gap.
The maturity and strength of the legal framework differs between the Global South and Global North. In North America and Europe the legal framework of waste management actively promotes and provides incentives for waste reduction, reuse and recovery whereas, despite recent developments in some countries, in Latin America legal frameworks remain focused upon mixed waste collection, transportation and disposal.
Recycling rates in Argentina are at 11% of the total waste stream with 95% of this material is recovered by the informal sector. This situation is replicated in many other countries. The informal sector recovers between 50% (e.g. Mexico) and 90% (e.g. Nicaragua) of the waste recovered and in the different countries of the region. Resource recovery and recycling is driven by market conditions. Materials that have a value are diverted from landfill through an informal network of recyclers and waste collectors.
The informal sector can be highly effective at collecting and diverting garbage from landfill. When empowered with a facilitating legal framework, and collectively organized, the informal sector can be a key part of a sustainable resource recovery system. Using people power to increase recycling and diversion rates decreases the need for expensive, fixed, high technology solutions.
Understanding that the context for waste management is different between the Global North and Global South, and even in different areas within a city or region, means that no two situations will be the same. However, if there is one principle to follow it may well be to consider the context and look for the simplest solution. The greenest cities of the future may well be those that use flexible, adaptable solutions and maximize the work that the informal sector is already doing.
Note: This excerpt is being published with the permission of our collaborative partner Be Waste Wise.
In just a few decades plastics have become omnipresent in our society. But, unfortunately, the consequences of their use last far beyond their useful lifetime. Everyone is aware of their overwhelming dispersion in our landscapes. The situation in the oceans is not better . As a reaction, a few thoughts spring to my mind.
First of all, it is clear that the industry is assuming very little responsibility, and that Public Administrations are complicit with this. Extended Producer Pesponsibility (abbreviated as EPR) only affects –and only partially– those plastics used as light packaging, in vehicles, in tyres or as part of electric and electronic equipment, not any of the others. Also, recycling levels are not sufficiently high, as a result of poor separate collection systems and inefficient treatment facilities. As a consequence, society has to face not only the problems created by those materials which are not recycled, but also has to assume a high share of the costs of managing them as waste.
Secondly, it illustrates the importance of the quality of the materials that we aim to recycle, and thus the importance of separate waste collection; for all materials, but particularly for biowaste. Although most composting and anaerobic digestion facilities have the capacity to separate some of the impurities (of which around 40% can be plastics), this separation is far from perfect.
Two recent studies confirm that the quality of compost is influenced by the presence of impurities in biowaste  and that, in turn, the presence of impurities is influenced by several factors , among which particularly the type of separate collection scheme, door to door separate collection models being those presenting better results.
Thirdly, it makes clear the urgency to adopt measures that address the root of the problem. High quality separate collection and sound waste treatment are necessary, and allow enormous room for improvement, but they are end-of-pipe solutions. It is also important to promote greener consumption patterns through environmental awareness campaigns, but this is not enough either.
One can think that these measures are a bit too hard, but honestly, after wandering around beaches and mountains, and finding plastics absolutely everywhere, I am bit disappointed with the outcome of soft solutions.
On 16th January 2018 the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy was adopted . A number of measures will need to be applied by the European Union (listed in Annex I of the Strategy), by Member States and by the industry (Annex II), but also by Regional Governments and Local Authorities. No doubt that implementing the Strategy will bring about significant advances, but only time will say if it is sufficient to address the huge challenge we face.
The European Union has also recently adopted the much-awaited Directive 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, which introduces several bans and restrictions on different uses and materials. This is indeed a huge step, which needs to be followed by others, both in Europe, but also elsewhere, as this is truly a global challenge.
 Campos Rodrigues, L., Puig Ventosa, I., López, M., Martínez, X. (2016) Anàlisi de la incidència dels impropis de la FORM sobre la qualitat del compost de les plantes de compostatge de Catalunya https://tinyurl.com/y37ncton
 Puig-Ventosa, I., Freire-González, J., Jofra-Sora, M. (2013) Determining factors for the presence of impurities in selectively collected biowaste, Waste Management and Research, 31: 510-517.
If you’re looking for ways to create a sustainable and energy-efficient home, make sure to consider your gardening practices. Gardening is a great way to produce your own fruits and vegetables. If you’re gardening, you’re already helping to reduce plastic waste because your food is coming right from your backyard rather than from the store.
You can become even more green by practicing sustainable gardening! Sustainable gardening uses principles and practices that help to protect the environment without doing further harm. It embraces organic gardening methods, conserves resources, and substitutes harmful practices (such as using pesticides) with more eco-friendly practices. And not only is it good for the environment, but it can also help save you money!
When planting and maintaining your garden, look for ways that you can be more energy efficient and create less pollution. For example, instead of using gas or electric-powered tools, look for tools that you can use by hand. Using a cheap cordless battery powered drill instead of an electric powered drill. Dig with shovels, clip with pruners, weed by hand.
Another way to reduce energy is to consider how you’re protecting your garden. Some people like to put an electric fence around their garden to keep out deer and other animals. Electric fences use painful electric shocks to deter animals from entering; depending on the setting of the fence, these shocks can be harmful to wildlife, pets, and humans. Instead of an electric fence, use a metal fence. A metal critter fence saves energy, is more cost-efficient, and does not harm animals. Another alternative is to install a wooden fence in order to protect your precious greenery.
Water is a precious, limited resource. Instead of watering your garden from a hose, create a collection system out of rain barrels. A rain barrel system collects runoff from your gutters when it rains. It is advisable to use aluminium guttering as aluminium has very strong rust resistance.
You can empty the water from the container as needed to water your garden and other areas of your lawn. Sometimes we water the plants too much than needed. It also helps a lot in saving water that we know how much or when to water our plants. There are freely given learning materials about this all over the internet. One place in particular, the Occupy The Farm website, gives simple yet detailed guides regarding this.
You should also keep in mind that runoff from your garden makes its way back into the water supply. Herbicides or pesticides contain harmful chemicals that can contaminate our water. Using natural herbicides or pesticides, such as vinegar, can still help kill weeds and prevent pests without harming the environment.
Make your garden a habitat
Sustainable gardening can help you create a backyard wildlife habitat. Even if you’re hoping to keep larger animals out of your veggies, there is a way to open up your garden to smaller critters. There are certain plants you can grow that will help provide food and shelter to animals such as bees, butterflies, and birds. Habitats will vary by area.
Grow native plants
Growing plants that are native to your area means that the plants will naturally thrive in their environment. They’ll do well in the existing light, moisture, and soil conditions so you won’t have to put as much effort into taking care of them. Another reason to grow native plants is that they won’t disrupt the ecosystem. Non-native plants can seed and spread to surrounding areas and prevent native species from growing.
You can save seeds from your plants from season to season. For example, if tomatoes are native to your area and did well in your garden, save the seeds from one of your tomatoes to plant again next year. Some people also like to scout out woods and fields near their home for native plants that they can seed in their own garden.
Composting is good for you and for the environment! When you compost waste, there is less material going into the landfill. That waste then creates an organic material that you can use in your garden. Compost helps maintain soil quality and fertility, serves as a natural fertilizer, increases water retention, and improves plant growth.
It is easy to start composting. There are a few different types of composters you can buy or create. Enclosed bins are the most practical method for most home gardeners. The type of materials you can compost will vary slightly depending on your composting strategy. In addition to various types of food waste, you can also add yard waste such as leaves or grass clippings.
Sustainable gardening practices don’t just help you save money, they help you protect the environment. Look over your current gardening practices to see if there are ways that you can reduce the amount of energy you’re using, if there are ways for you to produce less waste, and if there are ways you can help your local ecosystem.
Date palm is one of the principal agricultural products in the arid and semi-arid region of the world, especially Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. There are more than 120 million date palm trees worldwide yielding several million tons of dates per year, apart from secondary products including palm midribs, leaves, stems, fronds and coir. The Arab world has more than 84 million date palm trees with the majority in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.
Date palm biomass is found in large quantities across the Middle East
Egypt is the world’s largest date producer with annual production of 1.47 million tons of dates in 2012 which accounted for almost one-fifth of global production. Saudi Arabia has more than 23 millions date palm trees, which produce about 1 million tons of dates per year.
Biomass Potential of Date Palm Wastes
Date palm trees produce huge amount of agricultural wastes in the form of dry leaves, stems, pits, seeds etc. A typical date tree can generate as much as 20 kilograms of dry leaves per annum while date pits account for almost 10 percent of date fruits. Some studies have reported that Saudi Arabia alone generates more than 200,000 tons of date palm biomass each year.
Date palm is considered a renewable natural resource because it can be replaced in a relatively short period of time. It takes 4 to 8 years for date palms to bear fruit after planting, and 7 to 10 years to produce viable yields for commercial harvest. Usually date palm wastes are burned in farms or disposed in landfills which cause environmental pollution in dates-producing nations. In countries like Iraq and Egypt, a small portion of palm biomass in used in making animal feed.
The major constituents of date palm biomass are cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. In addition, date palm has high volatile solids content and low moisture content. These factors make date biomass an excellent waste-to-energy resource in the MENA region.
Technology Options for Date Palm Biomass Utilization
A wide range of thermal and biochemical technologies exists to tap the energy stored in date palm biomass to useful forms of energy. The low moisture content in date palm wastes makes it well-suited to thermochemical conversion technologies like combustion, gasification and pyrolysis which may yield steam, syngas, bio oil etc.
On the other hand, the high volatile solids content in date palm biomass indicates its potential towards biogas production in anaerobic digestion plants, possibly by codigestion with sewage sludge, animal wastes and/and food wastes. The cellulosic content in date palm wastes can be transformed into biofuel (bioethanol) by making use of the fermentation process.
The highly organic nature of date palm waste makes it highly suitable for compost production which can be used to replace chemical fertilizers in date palm plantations. Thus, abundance of date palm trees in the MENA and the Mediterranean region, can catalyze the development of biomass and biofuels sector in the region.
Communities across the world are grappling with waste management issues. A consensus is emerging worldwide that the ultimate way to deal with waste is to eliminate it. The concept of Zero Waste encourages redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused, thereby systematically avoiding and eliminating the volume and toxicity of waste and materials.
The philosophy of Zero Waste strives to ensure that products are designed to be repaired, refurbished, re-manufactured and generally reused. Among key zero waste facilities are material recovery facilities, composting plants, reuse facilities, wastewater/biosolids plants etc.
Material recovery facilities (MRFs) are an essential part of a zero waste management program as it receives separates and prepares recyclable materials for marketing to end-user manufacturers. The main function of the MRF is to maximize the quantity of recyclables processed, while producing materials that will generate the highest possible revenues in the market. MRFs can also process wastes into a feedstock for biological conversion through composting and anaerobic digestion.
A materials recovery facility accepts materials, whether source separated or mixed, and separates, processes and stores them for later use as raw materials for remanufacturing and reprocessing. MRFs serve as an intermediate processing step between the collection of recyclable materials from waste generators and the sale of recyclable materials to markets for use in making new products.
There are basically four components of a typical MRF: sorting, processing, storage, and load-out. Any facility design plan should accommodate all these activities which promote efficient and effective operation of a recycling program. MRFs may be publicly owned and operated, publicly owned and privately operated, or privately owned and operated.
There are two types of MRFs – dirty and clean. A dirty MRF receives mixed waste material that requires labor intense sorting activities to separate recyclables from the mixed wastes. A clean MRF accepts recyclable materials that have already been separated from the components in municipal solid waste (MSW) that are not recyclable. A clean MRF reduces the potential for material contamination.
A typical Zero Waste MRF (ZWMRF) may include three-stream waste collection infrastructure, resource recovery center, reuse/recycling, residual waste management facility and education centers.
The primary objective of all MRFs is to produce clean and pure recyclable materials so as to ensure that the commodities produced are marketable and fetch the maximum price. Since waste streams vary in composition and volume from one place to another, a MRF should be designed specifically to meet the short and long term waste management goals of that location. The real challenge for any MRF is to devise a recycling strategy whereby no residual waste stream is left behind.
The basic equipment used in MRFs are conveyors & material handling equipment to move material through the system, screening equipment to sort material by size, magnetic separation to remove ferrous metals, eddy current separation to remove non-ferrous metals, air classifiers to sort materials by density, optical sorting equipment to separate plastics or glass by material composition, and baling equipment to prepare recovered material for market. Other specialized equipment such as bag breakers, shredders and sink-float tanks can also be specified as required by application.
The scary reality is that the fate of our world lies squarely in our own hands. Human beings have created so much: incredible technological advances to change our lives for the better. However, the same advances, along with the way we use them and the way we live our daily lives, are making a terrible impact on the planet. Climate is a serious problem that we will be feeling the effects of for years to come and it’s up to us to make things right. There are many changes we can make to our lifestyles, both big and small, that can have a positive impact on the state of our natural world. Keep reading to find out how to level up your eco efforts:
1. Go Off the Grid
Our unending energy use is not only burning through our limited natural resources but is extremely damaging to the environment. Solar power, however, is an effective, green and clean source of renewable energy. Switching over to solar power is a move that many eco-conscious individuals and businesses are making.
The start-up costs of installing solar panels for your home may seem daunting, but that money will quickly be made up by the thousands you’ll save on your utility bills each month. Going off the grid will also make you independent and unaffected by increases in rates or electrical issues in your area – bonus! If you’re in the area, you can easily get started by clicking here for Solar Installs Utah
2. Try EV
The carbon dioxide emissions coming from your car contribute massively to air pollution and the damage being done to the environment, and there are so many ways to negate this problem. Gas emissions can be reduced if more people begin using public transport, opting for a bicycle commute or even walking which is great for your health too. However, if you prefer to own your own vehicle as many people do, there is still another option for you.
Electric vehicles are the so-called future of transport and they’re completely changing the automotive industry. They’re better for the environment (and your pocket) in more than one way. EVs can reduce gas emissions and if you charge using solar energy, your transport can be considered almost entirely green. This is a move towards the future that any green-conscious human will want to get behind.
3. Meatless Monday
Believe it or not, what you put on your plate has a major impact on your carbon footprint. Food production is complex, but most studies do agree that cutting down on meat consumption (particularly red meat) is a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting the environment. This means that changing over to a vegan or vegetarian diet would drastically reduce your carbon footprint, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Slowly starting to make more environmentally friendly swaps to your diet will have you making an impact in whatever way you can. Start off with one vegetarian meal per week – Meatless Monday. This weekly swap will make a difference in your impact and spending and encourage you to get creative in the kitchen too. If you find that you enjoy veggie-based meals, you can add more and more meat-free days to your week.
4. Reduce Your Waste
Food waste is a major problem across the globe, but it can quite easily be curbed with just a little extra care and thought. Carefully planning out your shopping trips can make a huge difference in the amount of food that gets wasted. Planning your meals for the week ahead of time and shopping your own pantry and fridge before you hit the supermarket is a great way to make sure that everything in your home is being used up before you buy extra and end up wasting (especially fresh produce).
It’s a good idea to plan your meals around what you already have and keep leftovers in mind while considering what you’ll be eating throughout the week. If you’re not keen on eating the same meal two days in a row, loads of meals can be packed away in the freezer and reheated on another day, and perhaps save you from ordering takeout again.
5. Recycle and Compost
Loads of us recycle – we’ve been told how important it is from the moment we can walk. However, it’s a good idea to brush up on how the whole system works. Recycling can be complex and having leftover food or perhaps the wrong type of plastic caught up in the mix, could potentially ruin a whole batch of recycling.
Check-in with your local recycling plant to find out their rules and regulations, and always do your best to clean out your tins and bottles before recycling them. You can also reduce your waste even further by starting a compost heap in your backyard.
Composting is a great way to get rid of food waste like vegetable peels and eggshells in a way that’s clean and beneficial to the planet. You can use your compost to feed your plants!
Looking for resources to get started with composting? Composting takes time. It can take a few weeks to several months for your compost to be ready to be used.
6. Shop Sustainably
Fast fashion is easy, convenient and cheap, but it’s also much like its namesake: fast. Constantly splashing the cash on trendy items that only last a season is bad for the environment. Why? When these clothes are no longer wanted or worn, a large percentage of them end up in landfills and take an age to decompose. This is bad for the bank, bad for the environment and the harsh reality is that fast fashion is a pretty unethical business to start off with.
Shopping smarter is shopping kinder. Fill your closet with classic, staple pieces that you know you’ll get years of use out of and try to avoid excessive and impulse buying as far as possible. Thrifting is an incredible way to reduce your carbon footprint. Buying second hand and donating your old clothes can both contribute to an overall more sustainable clothing industry that the planet and your wallet will love.
The idea of a zero-waste lifestyle has become increasingly popular in recent years. It entails aiming to generate no more waste to save the planet. How does this work? Well, all the trash that humans generate ends up in landfills. These huge dumpsites are incredibly harmful to the environment. On the one hand, they contaminate the soil. On the other hand, they significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. That, in turn, contributes to global warming. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to reverse the damage already caused. Nevertheless, we can try to minimize future damage by following zero-waste trends and incorporating them into our lives. Here’s a simple guide to help you transition to a zero-waste lifestyle.
1. Inspecting your waste
That might sound a bit gross, but you need to inspect your trash to identify your waste habits. That enables you to determine where most of your waste comes from. For example, if you mainly generate food waste, then it’s time to make a change in this department. Specifically, you should find ways to shop smart and not buy too much. A good solution here would be to plan your meals for the entire week and buy only the ingredients you need to prepare them.
2. Make compost
A great way to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle is to make compost. Composting is a natural process through which you recycle food waste and other organic materials and turn it into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Firstly, this enables you to minimize and eliminate food waste. Secondly, it’s a great way to eliminate other types of waste, such as sawdust, wood chips, grass trimmings, and even small pieces of paper and cardboard.
Composting is a great way to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle
3. Buy less processed foods
Apart from shopping smart to avoid food waste, you should also aim to buy less processed foods. That is beneficial not only for your health but the environment as well. Specifically, it helps you generate less plastic waste. This is because most processed foods come in plastic packaging, while fresh food doesn’t.
Of course, grocery stores usually provide plastic bags for these products. But you can easily avoid using them by bringing reusable grocery bags and containers. At the same time, if you need to buy processed foods, look for those that come in glass or aluminum containers. As opposed to plastic, these materials are entirely recyclable.
4. Always recycle
Recycling is the process of turning waste into reusable materials and products. As a result, recycling saves energy and natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and shrinks landfills. One way to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle is to correctly sort your trash and use recycling bins. However, you should do some research first. Because if you don’t do it right, you’ll make it much harder for recycling facilities to do their job.
To transition to a zero-waste lifestyle, you should always recycle.
5. Avoid single-use items
Single-use items generate a tremendous amount of waste and pollute the environment. Thus, you should do your best to avoid or minimize their use. These items include everything from paper towels and tissues to plastic bottles. You might view these as essentials, but you can easily replace them with reusable items. For example, you can use washable kitchen towels and handkerchiefs. And you can opt for a thermos or sports bottle instead of a single-use water bottle. That is not only eco-friendly but will also help you save money.
6. Reuse packing materials
Most of the household items you buy come in cardboard boxes. Your first instinct is to throw them away to eliminate the clutter. Nevertheless, you should resist this urge because old packing materials can be beneficial. For instance, let’s say you want to go green in your storage unit. In this case, reusing packing materials is one of the most efficient ways to make them sustainable; specifically, you can use old cardboard boxes to organize your belongings instead of investing in plastic containers.
7. Buy second-hand and donate
Whether you need to update your wardrobe or redecorate your home, you should consider shopping in a thrift store. You’ll find everything from clothes to furniture at a meager cost here. That is not only good for your finances but also the environment. More precisely, it reduces waste by reusing old items and materials. As for the items you want to get rid of, you can either sell or donate them to avoid generating waste. That mostly depends on their current condition and value.
8. Go digital
Everything you receive by mail generates paper waste. That includes utility bills, various invoices, newspapers, magazines, etc. So, it’s time to go digital if you want to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle. You only have to contact your providers and tell them you wish to receive all correspondence via email. The same goes for newspapers and magazines that are now available online.
9. Look for a zero-waste community
The zero-waste movement is becoming more and more popular by the day. As a result, you’ll find zero-waste communities all around the globe. These groups can provide you with precious information and valuable suggestions to make the transition easier. Therefore, you should look for and join a local or online zero-waste community.
Given how harmful landfills are to the environment, reducing waste should become a priority worldwide because landfills are harmful to the environment. Unfortunately, as individuals, we don’t have the power to change international environmental laws. However, we can help protect the environment by changing our lifestyle. Going zero waste is a great solution, but it can be hard to achieve. So, use this simple guide to help you transition to a zero-waste lifestyle and go from there. Once you get used to it, you’ll realize it’s not that hard.
Solid waste management is already a significant concern for municipal governments across South Asia. It constitutes one of their largest costs and the problem is growing year on year as urban populations swell. As with all waste management experiences, we have learned lessons and can see scope for improvement.
Collection and Transportation
There are two factors which have a significant impact on the costs and viability of a waste management system as it relates to collection and transportation: first, the distance travelled between collection and disposal point; and second, the extent to which ‘wet’ kitchen waste can be kept separate from dry waste much of which can be recycled. Separating waste in this way reduces the costs of manual sorting later on, and increases the prices for recyclable materials.
In many larger towns distances become too great for door-to-door collectors to dispose waste directly at the dump site. Arrangements are made to dispose of waste at secondary storage points (large skips) provided by the municipality. However, where these are not regularly emptied, the waste is likely to be spread beyond the bins, creating a further environmental hazard.
Ideally, and if suitable land can be found, a number of smaller waste disposal sites located around a town would eliminate this problem. With significant public awareness efforts on our part, and continual daily reminders to home-owners, we were able to raise the rate of household separation to about 60%, but once these reminders became less frequent, the rate dropped rapidly back to around 25%. The problem is compounded in larger cities by the unavailability of separated secondary storage bins, so everything is mixed up again at this point anyway, despite the best efforts of householders.
If rates are to be sustained, it requires continual and on-going promotion in the long term. The cost of this has to be weighed against the financial benefit of cleaner separated waste and reduced sorting costs. Our experience in Sri Lanka shows how important a role the Local Authority can play in continuing to promote good solid waste management practices at the household level.
Our experience with home composting shows that complete coverage, with every household using the system, is very unlikely to be achieved. Where we have promoted it heavily and in co-operation with the Local Authority we have found the sustained use of about 65% of the bins. Even this level of coverage, however, can have an important impact on waste volumes needing to be collected and disposed of. At the same time it can provide important, organic inputs to home gardening, providing a more varied and nutritious diet for poor householders.
Waste to Compost and Waste to Energy
The variety of technologies we have demonstrated have different advantages and disadvantages. For some, maintenance is more complicated and there can be issues of clogging. For the dry-fermentation chambers, there is a need for a regular supply of fresh waste that has not already decomposed. For other systems requiring water, quite large amounts may be needed. All of these technical challenges can be overcome with good operation and maintenance practices, but need to be factored in when choosing the appropriate technology for a given location.
The major challenge for compost production has been to secure regular sales. The market for compost is seasonal, and this creates an irregular cash flow that needs to be factored in to the business model. In Bangladesh, a significant barrier has been the need for the product to be officially licensed. The requirements for product quality are exacting in order to ensure farmers are buying a product they can trust.
However, the need for on-site testing facilities may be too prescriptive, creating a barrier for smaller-scale operations of this sort. Possibly a second tier of license could be created for compost from waste which would allow sales more easily but with lower levels of guarantees for farmers.
Safe Food Production and Consumption
Community people highly welcomed the concept of safe food using organic waste generated compost. In Sri Lanka, women been practicing vertical gardening which meeting the daily consumption needs became source of extra income for the family.
Female organic fertilizer entrepreneurs in Bangladesh are growing seasonal vegetables and fruits with compost and harvesting more quality products. They sell these products with higher price in local and regional markets as this is still a niche market in the country. The safe food producers require financial and regulatory support from the government and relevant agencies on certification and quality control to raise and sustain market demand.
The concept of safe food using organic waste generated compost is picking up in South Asia
Solid waste management is an area that has not received the attention it deserves from policy-makers in South Asia nations. There are signs this may change, with its inclusion in the SDGs and in many INDCs which are the basis of the Paris Climate Agreement. If we are to meet the challenge, we will need new approaches to partnerships, and the adoption of different kinds of systems and technologies. This will require greater awareness and capacity building at the Local Authority level. If national climate or SDG targets are to be met, they will need to be localised through municipalities. Greater knowledge sharing at national and regional levels through municipal associations, regional bodies such as SAARC and regional local authority associations such as Citynet, will be an important part of this.
Practical Action’s key messages for regional and national policy makers, based on our experience in the region in the last 5 years, are about the need for:
creating new partnerships for waste collection with NGOs and the informal sector,
considering more decentralised approaches to processing and treatment, and
recognising the exciting potential for viable technologies for generating more value from waste
Waste management systems can be divided into a number of steps from collection, storage, transportation, processing, treatment, recycling and final disposal. Integrated solid waste management refers to this entire process and aims to maximise resource use efficiency, with minimal amounts ending up in final disposal sites. During Practical Action’s recent work in the South Asia region, we have gained particular experiences in terms of waste collection, storage and transportation; and secondly waste processing in particular of organic waste.
Waste Collection and Transportation
In many cities, waste collection services fail to reach all areas of the town or city. People are left to manage their own waste, which they do by burning and burying it, or dumping on open spaces. Sometimes large bins or skips are provided but they may be irregularly emptied, and also overflow when the contents is picked over by waste pickers and animals.
In Bangladesh, in order to help increase the overall capacity for collecting household waste, Practical Action has promoted a door-to-door collection service run by local NGOs. Residents pay a service charge in addition to their municipal rates, but in return they receive a regular service, leading to a cleaner neighbourhood.
In Faridpur, the local NGO, WORD, with technical backstopping from Practical Action serves more than 5,000 customers with waste collection. There are three main types of customer, non-slum households, slum households and institutions. Slum-based households are charged the lowest tariffs (minimum BDT 10) while the institutional rate is highest (minimum BDT 150).
The numbers of slum households is small because the alternative option of localized composting (with a barrel system) was widely taken up. This is easier than collection through vans and is useful for slum people as they can use the compost later. Waste collectors use small rickshaw vans for the collection service. Recently we have also introduced small small rickshaw vans and small motorized versions for the collection service.
The waste is taken to a composting facility where it is sorted and the organic portion is separated for composting, and in some cases for generating biogas. In 2008, WORD started the waste collection business with only 525 customers. In the last 8 years, the number has increased more than tenfold (5,100 customer per month) making the solid waste management a viable business. It has not only contributed to a better living environment, but also generated green and dignified jobs for 21 waste workers.
The municipal conservancy department continues to play a regulatory and coordinating role through the Waste Management Steering Committee. This meets regularly to discuss any emerging issues and review the progress of door-to-door collection services. The conservancy department continues to manage the sweeping of streets and drains, and collection of waste from some areas of the town, from vegetable markets and slaughter houses. The only recycling and reuse of organic waste is done by WORD, as all municipal waste for now continues to be disposed at an open dumping site where no further treatment, sorting or reuse takes place.
In Nepal, Practical Action has facilitated organic waste management under a public-private partnership model. For example, in Butwal Municipality, a private firm, Marry Gold Concern, collects and manages wastes from 400 households with a monthly service fee of NPR 50 (GBP 0.33) in an area called Ramnagar. The company employs three operators for collecting and managing waste from low income communities. A compost plant has been set up which processes up to 10 metric tonnes of organic waste and generate 5 metric tonnes of compost per month. In addition, recyclable waste, mainly plastic, is sold to scrap dealers, creating another source of income.
Recycling and Disposal by Forming Associations and Enterprises
In Bangladesh, collection services have been organised through existing local NGOs. In Nepal, Practical Action has instead helped to form different groups of Informal Waste Workers (IWW) such as street waste pickers, waste segregators, pheriya (dry waste pickers), scrap owners and door to door collectors.
We have worked intensively with IWW from five municipalities of Kathmandu Valley. We have facilitated the establishment of a IWWs association called Samyukta Safai Jagaran (SASAJA), and the first waste workers’ cooperative with the same name. These organisations have distributed identity cards to members to increase their recognition as an ‘official’ part of the waste management system. We provided basic safety equipment to 5,622 IWWs, including rain boots/shoes, gloves, masks, raincoats, windcheaters with trouser and wrapper, aprons, cap etc. to minimize health risks.
Basic safety equipment is essential to minimize health risks to informal recycling sector.
Following capacity building and skill enhancement training from Practical Action, many of the IWW group members have established waste-based enterprises. For example, plastic tearing (PET bottle and carton crushing or pressing) for recycling and reuse; paper recycling and mechanical composting of organic waste. This approach has been scaled up in other municipalities in Chitwan and Rupadehi districts reaching around 350 IWWs there.
Reducing Waste through Home Composting
In Nepal and Sri Lanka, and in some slum communities in Bangladesh, we have promoted barrel composting of organic waste. This has the dual benefit of producing compost locally which can be used for home gardening, and reducing the amount of waste that needs to be collected and disposed of elsewhere.
It can reduce the amount of organic waste coming in to the waste collection stream by about 20-30%. It requires community involvement in waste management system as well as frequent monitoring and troubleshooting. This process ensures source segregation of waste, a necessary condition for proper implementation of the 3R system (reuse, reduce and recycle).
Practical Action has distributed more than 2,000 compost bins in Sri Lanka. Especially in Galle, Kurunegala and Akkaraipattu cities where we have distributed about 1,500 home composting bins from 2006 to 2016. More than 65% of the bins are being regularly used.
Our experience shows that once a locality is provided with home composting, the volume of organic waste into the municipal collection system is reduced around 20-30%. However, this varies greatly by locations. If the local authority strictly monitors the compost bin usage and provides troubleshooting support, waste reduction can reach up to 30%.
Both Kurunegala and Galle municipal councils have upscaled the distribution of bins city-wide with the support of national government funding. This technology was taken up by the private sector and other municipal councils. It has been used widely in the country as a solution for reducing organic waste coming in to the waste collection system. For example, Kandy municipal council has adopted the technology with strict restriction on organic waste collection in the municipality collection system.
The Provincial Agriculture department in Kurunegala and the Coconut cultivation board in Akkaraipattu are both promoting organic agriculture with the usage of composting and are using Practical Action’s work as examples for expansion. The central government has provided seeds and fertilizer to city dwellers, including the urban poor, to promote home gardening.
This has been further expanded by Kurunegala municipal council which has distributed potted plants. Some of the vertical gardening structures promoted by Practical Action are now included in urban gardening models of the Western Province Urban Agriculture unit.
A zero waste society is something we all agree would be ideal. Imagine if everything used could be turned into a new product or go back into the earth. Several companies are moving their businesses into biodegradable containers, which means that maybe we can rethink landfills. Even Coca-Cola has said that by 2025, their bottles will be compostable, which could be a gamechanger.
How Should We Change our Habits?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2018, the average American produced 4.9lbs of waste per day. This number might not seem that high, however, calculate that figure for all of the US, and you are now looking at 292.4m tons. This number helps us understand the society we live in and the changes needed.
Why Recycling isn’t the Answer?
Most people think, “I’ve used a bottle, recycled it, and now I’ve done my part.” There’s a lot more to this, though. How was that bottle made? Plastics, as we know them, harm our environment. Zero waste means we don’t think about recycling. The product is simply gone or used.
Many of us believe that all plastic is recycled, and if that is the case, we will reach zero wastage. However, when we look closer, only a small percentage of these recycled products is used to create a new product. In other words, this is good for now, and in the future, we will be more resourceful.
The EPA’s strategy begins with the product life cycle. If each company considered how their product would be used and waste reduction, we could reach a zero wastage time sooner. Companies should therefore create either biodegradable or reusable packaging.
What is Composting?
Landfills require a lot of space and emit methane gasses into the air. Composting decreases wastage and aids plant growth. Composting requires you to take food scraps, which used to be considered garbage and turn them into a product.
Vegetable scraps are ideal for composting as they can break down quite quickly. Using a three-stage composting bin, you can create rich soil, which is used as a fertilizer. If you don’t own a garden, there are often organizations that will request homemade compost.
Ways to Reach a Waste-free Society
As a consumer, we shouldn’t be using one-time plastic bags. We could opt for reusable material bags. Bring our coffee mugs when we want coffee on the go. When you buy takeout, have handy cutlery already on you, preventing you from using more plastic.
When you do your weekly food shopping, be mindful of what you will consume. By buying the right amount, you have already helped save the planet. If you find you bought too many vegetables, find a way to use them and freeze them for a future meal.
Our society makes us think that once we are seen in a clothing outfit, it’s old. T-shirts last for some time, and you don’t always need to replace mildly worn clothes. If the t-shirt is no longer “your style,” instead of throwing it away, donate it or give it to a friend. This will ensure it lives a bit longer. All these little changes can bring us toward a zero wastage life. There are many ways we can reach zero wastage. For more information, read more.
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