Solid waste collection worldwide catch
The word waste has a number of definitions depending on the context in which it is used and has been defined differently by different organizations and institutions. For purposes of this paper, waste is defined as an unwanted material or that material which one cannot use and considers unprofitable to him or her.
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNDP) offers a number of definitions to the term waste as they are provided by its different departments and from its conventions. Some of these definitions are given below. According to the Basel convention, “wastes are substances or objects which are disposed or are intended to be disposed or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national laws” (UNEP/GRID, 2010, para. 2).
The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) also gives the definition of wastes as “materials that are not prime products (that is products produced for the market) for which the generator has no further use in terms of his/her own purposes of production, transformation or consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose” (Para. 3).
Wastes are generated in the process of acquiring raw materials, processing them and even in the process of consumption. Waste is also known as trash, rubbish, refuse, garbage or junk. People consider materials as waste when those materials are no longer rendering any value to them.
They then throw away these materials or gather them together for disposal (waste collection). This is part of waste management, which includes identification, gathering, sorting, storage, processing at the source, transportation, recycling and/or disposal.
Solid wastes are that type of wastes that are not fluid and include solid materials, semi solid materials and even gaseous and liquid materials in containers. The sources and concentration of solid waste differ in urban and rural settings. The major sources of solid wastes in these areas are from agriculture, mining, industry and municipal (Ophardt, 2003).
Therefore, the sources and types of solid waste include industrial, commercial, institutional, construction and demolition, municipal, process and agricultural wastes (Daniel and Thomas, 1999). Broadly, these solid wastes are classified as municipal solid wastes and non-municipal solid wastes.
Wastes from residential areas, businesses, and buildings debris in the cities produce municipal solid wastes, while non-municipal solid wastes are mainly agricultural, industrial and mining wastes. The wastes from all the above-mentioned sources can be hazardous when they contain toxic substances.
Collection of solid wastes involves gathering of the waste, sorting it out (sometimes) and transporting it to the required location. This location can be in a processing plant for recycling the material, landfill sites or other disposal sites.
Municipal councils and City councils of various towns and cities in the world are responsible for the collection of waste materials. However, there are private organizations that are also involved in collection of waste from the source and deliver them to the suitable destination.
There a number of actors and partners who are involved in the collection of both household and municipal wastes all over the world. These act as users or providers of the garbage collection services, regulators and/or intermediaries.
These actors include households, communities, non-Governmental organizations (NGOs), Local governments, National governments, private sector enterprises, informal private sector and external support agencies (ESAs) (Schubeler, 1996). The major concern of residential households and communities is to live in a clean environment.
Since they must buy the waste collection services, they normally require quality service providers and at the least cost possible. In low-income residential areas, solid waste collection is not given priority and therefore the people dump their solid wastes on open areas near their residency, along the roads and railway lines as well as in rivers and waterways (Thomas-Hope, 1998; Lankao, 2008; Dangi, n.d.).
This in turn poses a health risk to the residents of these areas. Residents who are not satisfied with the garbage collection services offered usually form community based organizations (CBOs) to help them improve their local environmental conditions or help them seek help from their government for service improvement.
NGOs may originate from the community but mostly from outside the communities in which they operate. The NGOs act as a link between the government and the local community to help improve the service delivery.
They help the people to understand the need for environmental management, the danger of careless waste disposal, raise their concerns to the government and relevant waste collection authorities and access credit facilities for the local people. The NGOs also offer employment opportunities to the people.
Local governments on the other hand are fully responsible for collection and disposal of solid waste. They do this as stipulated in their by laws and sometimes as motivated by their political and personal interests. The local authorities rely on the higher government authorities such as the national government to give it powers to enforce bylaws necessary for efficient waste collection.
The local authorities also rely on the national government to give it financial support it needs to carry out solid waste collection and transportation to the required destinations. These local governments also have powers to give contracts to private organizations offering garbage collection services.
In order to achieve efficiency in solid waste collection, the local governments have to enhance public awareness on the significance of waste collection and proper disposal (Hosetti, 2006). This also helps the local community to assist the local authorities in solid waste collection.
The national government plays a critical role in solid waste collection and maintaining environmental soundness in any country.
It is the mandate of the national government to put into place the legal and institutional framework for all activities necessary to enhance solid waste collection and empowering the local authorities to carry out its activities. It also equips the local government with relevant guidelines and capacity building relevant to this service delivery.
Both formal and informal private sector also plays a critical role as far as solid waste collection and management is concerned. The formal private sector majorly offers waste collection services as a business in order to gain profit (Golush, 2008). The formal private sector works in close collaboration with the public sector to provide the services the community requires in waste collection.
This sector is more likely to offer effective garbage collection services at a lower price than the public sector in order to make more customers for their services. The informal private sector on the other hand comprises of individuals, families or unregistered groups carrying out activities that are not regulated. These people are usually from poverty-stricken areas who are seeking for a source of income.
Effectiveness in the collection of solid wastes depends on the rate of production of the wastes and availability of resources and equipment to facilitate this collection (Nair, 1993; Schubeler 1996). Some low-income communities in the world experience low or lack of waste collection leading to waste disposal in open areas and vacant plots nearby (Medina, n.d).
The level and mechanism of waste collection also differs from country to country and from developed countries to developing countries due to differences in resource endowment s and level of technology available for use.
The increasing urban population aggravates the problem of solid waste collection and management in most developing countries. These nations spend a lot of money in the collection of solid wastes and yet they are not able to keep pace with the level of waste production (Zerbock, 2003). The composition of solid wastes generated in developing countries varies greatly from that produced in developed countries.
The wastes produced in developing countries are of higher density, higher moisture content, and large amounts of organic matter as well as small in particle size (Dhamija, 2006). Most of these countries depend on the municipal revenue they collect to address the problem of solid waste collection. This further leads to delayed and decreased rate of waste collection leading to waste accumulation in or near residential areas.
The delayed service delivery also sometimes makes the people to decline to pay for garbage collection, which further add to the problem build up. The private sector seems to be doing a better job in offering solid waste collection services making people to prefer their services to those offered by the public sector.
Most governments in the developing countries have opted to use the private sector for waste collection. This however does not deprive the local authorities their role of overseeing waste collection in their areas of jurisdiction (Zerbock, 2003).
The national governments in most developing countries give little attention to solid waste collection and transport (Ogawa, n.d.). These governments pay much attention to rapid urbanization and put plans in place to facilitate rapid urban developments and industrialization but do not put in place enough measures to avert waste accumulation and to enhance proper solid waste collection procedures.
The rapid urbanization and growing population in towns also hinders the ease of transportation of solid wastes (Gandy, 1994). Transportation of wastes through towns is slowed down due to congestion of the roads by traffic, poor roads and weather conditions (Zerboch, 2003; Rotich, Yongsheng, & Jun, 2005).
In areas where there are no or poorly organized waste collection facilities and patterns, the residents resort to dumping their solid wastes in the nearby vacant spaces. This is mostly the case in low-income places where the residents are unable to pay for waste collection services.
As stated above, these residents resort to dumping in open places, rivers and roadsides an issue that puts their health at risk. Some place, especially in slums are also too congested and inaccessible by garbage collectors.
In areas where the residents are able to pay for the waste collection services, they are at an advantage of getting these services from private service providers. Even though this is the case, in most instances there are no standard containers to store the waste before it is collected. The solid wastes in such places are kept either in drums or plastic containers or even in paper bags prior to collection.
The collectors come and pick the garbage from these containers. However people and animals scavenging for valuables from the waste leads to garbage disturbance and distribution in the area, an issue that affect the efficiency of solid waste collection.
Most developing countries still use the traditional methods of solid waste collection such as garbage trucks and road sweeping (Thomas-Hope, 1998). Waste collectors commonly use trucks to transport waste from the sources of production to the disposal sited. In some cases, the household owners assist the waste collectors to load the garbage into the trucks in medium income areas.
In low-income areas where people dump on open grounds, the responsible authorities take responsibility to collect the waste and transport it to the rightful dumping sites.
Most of the solid wastes collected in developing countries are dumped in open dumpsites, an issue which posed environmental health threats especially if dumping is done for a prolonged period (Ogawa, n.d.). The countries use only a small amount in landfills. The plastic containers and scrap metals are usually recycled.
Most developed countries produce higher solid wastes as compared to developing countries. This is because these countries have a higher consumption rate than developing countries. The solid wastes they produce is large and of low organic matter. Government policies and environmental concerns in these countries enable the concerned waste collection agencies to carry out effective service delivery especially in urban areas.
Solid waste collection methods in these countries greatly vary from region to region. In some places, the individuals who produce the wastes collect the wastes and place them in temporary storage containers or any other materials strategically placed for the commercial garbage collectors to pick them (Nag & Vizayakumar, 2005).
Due to environmental issues associated with waste dumping, some developed countries have opted to ship their solid wastes and dump them in other countries. In this case, the developed countries target those developing countries with less restriction in dumping or those that do not adhere to environmental laws.
The solid wastes that these countries mostly transport across borders include electronic wastes, fabrics, and plastic containers among others (Luther, 2009). Developed countries export these materials to developing countries for reuse, recycling or dumping.
Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and some other countries that use the Curbside method to collect household solid wastes in the urban and peri urban areas (Tchobanoglous and Kreith, 2002). This method uses specially constructed trucks for the purpose of waste collection.
In many cases, the municipal or city councils provide urban households with special containers in which they put their solid wastes and place them on the roadsides where the trucks pick them as they pass (Hayes, 2008).
This method is suitable for collecting recyclable materials, which the collectors then transport to designated places, sort and send them to treatment plants for recycling. The major aim of this method is to increase the level of recycling materials and reduce the amount of disposed solid wastes.
Some countries also use underground channels to convey their wastes to the designated places. This is an example of high technology application in solid waste collection. The waste moves through the channels through the influence of a vacuum system. The common systems the waste collectors use to collect waste through this means include Envac method, Metro Taifun single-line and ring-line systems among others.
A combination of solid waste collection methods and strategies is important to enhance efficient service delivery. Some developed countries regulate the maximum amount of wastes a household is allowed to produce by a specific period.
Such governments are efficient in managing and controlling waste collection activities within their country. This is the case in Taipei city in China, where the government has succeeded in regulating the level of wastes the residents of the city produce.
In general, there are common methods used to collect solid wastes in the world. These range from simple to complex methods. Some of these methods require minimal economic investment while others require very high economic and technological investment.
The methods include the use of wheelbarrows, hand pushed carts, simple bicycle mounted carts, animal drawn carts, trolleys, small trucks, agricultural tractor drawn trailers, open trucks, specialized trucks, open and closed tunnels and many others. The simple implements like hand drawn carts are used to collect solid wastes from simple households with minimal solid waste production levels.
Individuals and small groups offering waste collection services can easily use these implements. The methods require less investment and use in small-scale waste collection. Road sweeping is also another traditional method most municipal councils employ to collect solid wastes, especially dust in towns.
Commercial waste collection requires the application of the best available and economically viable methods. Developed countries use specialized trucks and other technical methods to collect and transport their solid wastes. Some developing countries also receive some assistance from developed countries to collect their wastes.
In conclusion, solid waste collection is a major concern to most governments and environmental management authorities in the world. Governments spend a lot of money to effect effective solid waste collection to avert environmental degradation and maintain the integrity of their towns and cities. Various actors are involved in various activities involving solid waste collection.
These include individuals, formal organizations, informal organizations, local authorities, national governments, non-governmental organizations and international organizations. All these actors represent various interests. Some engage in this activity to gain financially, others to represent environmental organizations for keeping the environment healthy, while others do charity work.
To others, it is either their moral, social, or political obligation to carry out solid waste collection. The demands for solid waste collection differ from country to country and from place to place within the same country (Schubeler 1996; Daniel 1999). The urban areas produce more municipal solid wastes as compared to the rural areas or the less populated towns.
The level of technology available for use as well as the availability of sufficient waste collectors can either hinder or enhance the rate and efficiency of waste collection in a particular country or region. Highly populated residential areas, poor weather and poor roads can also reduce the rate of solid waste collection leading to accumulation.
The poor or low-income city dwellers dump solid wastes in open areas leading to pollution of land, air and water. The rich countries are also determined to keep their environment clean at the expense of exporting their solid wastes to less developed countries, thereby adding more garbage problems to them.
There is need for policy development to govern solid waste collection in the world to avoid accumulation of wastes, which can pose health danger to residents as well as destroy the aesthetic value of towns and cities.
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