Tag Archives: solid wastes

Cairo: Finding its own way in waste collection

Cairo: Finding its own way in waste collection – Danish Architecture Centre | Source/complete article: Sustainable Cities, Jan 2014

Excerpts – For decades, much of Cairo’s waste has been resourcefully collected and reused by a poor working class known as the Zabbaleen. After a failed attempt to modernise and sanitize this system by bringing in foreign waste-collecting companies, some major advantages to developing a sustainable, economically logical and uniquely Cairo waste-collecting system have become clear.

Skraldebyen Ezbet El Nakhl, Af Creap, 9. maj 2005, Flickr, Creative Commons, Foto # 13067241

Skraldebyen Ezbet El Nakhl, Af Creap, 9. maj 2005, Flickr, Creative Commons, Foto # 13067241

Since the 1950’s, a group of lower class garbage collectors known as the Zabbaleen have wandered the city of Cairo, Egypt, using donkey carts to pick up waste left on the streets. After bringing this waste to their homes that collectively make up Cairo’s “garbage city” the waste it is sorted and eventually turned into quilts, rugs, pots, paper, livestock food, compost, recycled plastic products such as clothes hangers, and much more. Reusing and recycling about 85% of all waste that they collect, the Zabbaleen have far surpassed the efficiencies of even the best Western recycling schemes, which, under optimal conditions, have only been able to reuse 70% of all material.

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UN: Treated Waste Could be ‘Gold Mine’

UN: Treated Waste Could be ‘Gold Mine’ | Source: Environmental Leader – Oct 10 2013

Recycling and waste treatment can be a “gold mine,” perhaps literally, according to a UN report that finds treated waste can be put to profitable use. un-landfills

For example, 1 metric ton of electrical and electronic wastecontains as much gold as 5 to 15 metric tons of typical gold ore, and amounts of copper, aluminum and rare metals that exceed by many times the levels found in typical ores. As a result, printed circuit boards are probably the “richest ore stream you’re ever going to find,” according to the Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies: Moving from Challenges to Opportunities.

Many waste products can be reused and, if waste is separated at source, the uncontaminated organic fraction can be composted or digested anaerobically, the report says.

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Two young scientists break down plastics with bacteria

Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao have identified a new bacteria that breaks down nasty compounds called phthalates, common to flexible plastics and linked to health problems. And they’re still teenagers.

Pakistan’s waste gets a second life

Dec. 1, 2011 – Entrepreneur turns Pakistan’s tons of garbage into a handsome profit while saving the environment.

Clean” and “green” are words not usually associated with the streets of Lahore, but a garbage collecting business is changing the image of the Pakistani city.

And it is making millions of dollars in the process, by turning waste into liquefied petroleum products and fertiliser for farmlands.

Waste Management Key to Cleaning up Oceans

Discarded plastic, industrial waste and unwanted fishing nets are still a growing problem for the world’s oceans, despite decades of efforts to reduce such marine debris. However, a new set of commitments – set out during the recent Fifth International Marine Debris Conference – hope to encourage the sharing of technical, legal and market-based solutions to reduce marine debris.

One of the key findings of the conference was the need to improve waste management practices globally. It was said that improvements to national waste management programmes not only help reduce the volume of waste in the world’s seas and oceans, but can also bring real economic benefits.

The impacts of marine debris are far-reaching, with serious consequences for marine habitats, biodiversity, human health and the global economy. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), at least 267 marine species worldwide are affected by entanglement in, or ingestion of marine debris, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species.

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Philippines – EcoSavers:Maintaining a “bank account” for solid wastes

A common pass book we know is one that contains cash deposits and withdrawal amounts in detail, but in the Entrepreneurs Multipurpose Cooperative in the town of Pavia, they issue pass books indicating kilos of bottles, plastics, and recyclables items as deposits.

The pass books belong to women entrepreneurs called Eco-Savers, majority women vendors and microenterprise operators, who in partnership with the local government of Pavia, are discharged with the responsibility of managing the town’s solid wastes, especially those generated in the public market.

Joy Palmada, manager of the cooperative, proudly shows the bundles of pass books to visitors and clients and those interested how the scheme works and how it has made Pavia a garbage-free municipality.

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Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan: cholera claims eight lives

Poor hygiene exacerbated by growing piles of rubbish and the current political crisis are all factors that haelth experts and residents say contributed to a dry-season cholera outbreak in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire. So far eight people out of 61 infected have died.

The first case – in Abidjan’s Adjamé District (a poor neighbourhood that has seen severe post-election violence in recent weeks) – was registered in mid-January [2011]; the major rains ended in November [2010]. Cholera has also affected the district of Williamsville.

“Across this region [West Africa] there are pockets of poverty where hygiene is poor and we see occasional outbreaks,” Mamadou D. Ball, WHO representative in Côte d’Ivoire, told IRIN. “The cholera bacterium is always present.”

Sandrine Touré, a health assistant in Williamsville, said she often sees children eating just after playing in rubbish. She added that many people, even in Abidjan, have no access to safe drinking water.

Since the political deadlock, household garbage is no longer being collected.

Even if families know that poor sanitation is linked to infectious disease, cholera was not much on people’s minds this time of year, said Soumaïla Traoré. “There is negligence in some communities. With the piles of rubbish people knew the threat of illness was real. But no one talked of cholera in this period.”

UNICEF and WHO are working with local health authorities to treat patients and promote better hygiene. advise communities on prevention. They are providing soap, cholera treatment kits and posters with prevention messages.

Source: IRIN, 31 Jan 2011

Nigeria: From Waste to Wealth

INITIALLY when many of them ventured into the job, they did it with all enthusiasm believing they had gotten a means of livelihood. Somehow midway, they became agents for armed robbers. And for many years, their actions have ruined families.

The story is simple.

As cart pushers, local name for refuse collectors, moved from house to house collecting disused items, they became familiar with their customers, their movements and their surroundings. With these, they sold information to underworld, whose members in turn targeted homes, attacked the residents and stole anything they could.

Anybody who refused to cooperate was either maimed or killed.

But these situations changed in 2008 with the organised private investors fully incorporated into solid waste collection through PSP by the Lagos State Government.

With this, ‘cart pushing’ business becomes illegal and patronising pushers is at patrons’ risk across the state.

Two years on, that single policy designs to complement the efforts of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), an agency in charge of solid waste management in the state, is today having a positive impact on peoples’ daily lives.

Now, 400 private firms are so far licensed by the government with about 15, 000 people gainfully engaged under the scheme. Nine thousands (9,000) of these were until recently unemployed. The rest used to be cart pushers.

They include truck drivers and their assistants, supervisors, office/account clerks, waste loaders and highway sweepers.

Each worker is paid a monthly salary ranging from N10, 000 to N40, 000 depending on the company and the type of duties.

Mr. Adelakun Joel, 28, is one of those enjoying his new work.

A supervisor with one of the firms, which he prefers not to be named, Adelakun says he lived at the mercy of good spirited people before joining his current place of work.

Though Adelakun’s income just as his colleagues is meagre, he is keeping part of it aside to enable him sponsor his part time studies in the university in the near future.

Similarly, Mama Rukayat as she prefers to be addressed is among the sweepers along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Abule-Egba area of Lagos.

She gets to work as early as 6.00am and sweeps alongside her colleagues an allocated portion in an interval of three hours and then closes for the day latest by 3.00pm.

The mother of two says the little income she earns enables her contributes to family’s welfare.

And as far as I know, she says in Yoruba, every other colleague does likewise.

From another angle, scavengers, who comb landfill sites to pick such items as metal, plastics, bottles, nylon, and papers, are now making more money.

The scheme, has enabled them to get large volume of needed items at one location, which they sell to middlemen, who in turn sell to traders and recycling factories.

This reporter observes at both Abule-Egba and Olusosun-Ojota landfill sites in Alimosho and Ikeja local government areas, respectively, the presence of many scavengers in possession of bags where they stored these items according to their kinds.

Read more – http://allafrica.com/stories/201005110833.html

Nigeria: Cities And Solid Wastes

Austin Nwangwu, 8 June 2009



All cities in Nigeria are presently fighting a losing battle against municipal solid wastes. This is no hyperbole and can easily be confirmed. It is as true for the Eastern states of Nigeria as for the West.

It is also a common feature in the North as it is in the South. Wherever one goes the storyline is the same – a daunting souvenir of open refuse dumps, sometimes mountains of them, displayed in odious visual ads. Cynical adverts of what we keep accumulating but do not need, assaulting the sight, doing their damned best to portray us as what we are: a stylish population living in slums; a fashion-conscious people having pigsties for homes; modern people in love with squalor!

Perhaps nothing captures the paradox of Nigeria’s romance with modernity as the way we have managed our solid waste. Whatever our governments claim to be doing about this festering sore ends up as expendable rhetoric. Simply put, we have failed woefully in keeping our cities clean, and have added to the long list of our management failures, the problem of solid wastes. As usual, the implications are neither well understood nor sufficiently appreciated at the policy-making levels of governance. An exception has to be made at this juncture for two cities, Calabar and Abuja, which have commendably become exceptions to the rule.

The vivid mementos of failure all over Nigeria cannot be missed. Failure in service delivery. Failure in managing even the most routine things, including our episodic success in sports. The failure in managing the wastes we generate, however, ranks as perhaps the most scathing.

There is, without a shred of doubt, systemic failure in waste management, with morbid consequences gnawing away at our public health status, aesthetics, self-worth and individual well-being. It appears that most governments and regulators in Nigeria see issues of waste generation and safe disposal as intractable. Yet what is obvious is a refusal to adopt commonsensical measures to address the root cause with a management-driven mindset. It is mostly a failure to understand what it takes to address the problem – efficient collection and safe disposal mechanisms. And, of course, commensurate fiscal deployment is imperative. At present it would seem that most governments see expenditure on refuse management as wasted. Without realizing it is a core index of performance for any administration, comparable to any other. And one that yields multilateral dividends.

Waste dumping and accumulation are common features of urban Nigeria, mostly because of attitudinal challenges. Exacerbated by our penchant for confronting first-rate problems, with a second-rate solutions. Many of our decision-makers see waste management as a dispensable option, not deserving of extra effort or focus. Yet, as a scorecard for any administration, it is second to none, as the result is there for all to see. It is one area where success is as glaring as failure. And there is no middle course!

A sanitary environment is desirable and will be easily appreciated by everyone – residents, visitors and tourists alike. And even an obstinate public will cooperate through source-reduction and sanitation tariffs when the governments begin to perform.

For years now, many nations of the world have adopted the integrated waste management approach to great effect. Waste processing has long become an economic endeavour in its own right, through the concept of waste-to-wealth, as solid wastes now become raw materials for industrial production. Biodegradable components are composted to become organic fertilizer and soil amendment. The non-biodegradable parts are recycled in processes of resource recovery. Sensitive solid wastes such as medical wastes are incinerated to safer-to-handle ashen components. Even hazardous fractions are compounded or packaged for safe disposal in well-engineered sanitary landfills. In some of the more modern approaches, solid wastes go through a special kind of incineration that yields electricity through a series of energy conversion processes.

These processes became possible because someone somewhere in societies that value human health, comfort and environmental quality invested time and resources to address waste management. And governments cooperated through grants and funding for research. It is obvious that we are loathsome about advancing research and intellectual rigour, which is why we remain a consuming nation, a copycat nation, grossly dependent on the more proactive and pragmatic economies for even the most basic needs. One then wonders why we prevaricate over adopting management approaches that have been successful in yielding great mileage in the environment sector everywhere else. Approaches that have the potential to conclusively address some of the core areas in which we have continued to score poorly – urban sanitation and employment, for example?

If this attitude does not bespeak laziness, then it must demonstrate the kind of intellectual dolefulness that puts to question the mental health of our policy makers and of those who claim to deliver democracy dividends, long since known to be illusory.

It bears repetition to insist that we have refused to copy, once again, in an area that adds value to society, putting to the fore, for the umpteenth time, our ill-concealed challenge of prioritization. For many governments, it is more hip to build modern estates, all because there are huge contracts to sign, with their pecuniary incentives. And, predictably, most of them become slums soon after, on account of poor waste management components in planning and execution. It is on record that most developments even in today’s Nigeria are executed without the statutory environmental evaluations. Which puts their sustainability in great jeopardy soon after.

One then begins to wonder what the regulators such as the Federal Ministry of Environment and the state equivalents are doing as our environment continues to experience accelerated degradation.

The answer is simple enough. It is found in the motive of those who award contracts. Their interests wane once they cut their deal. They shift their gaze to the next contract to reap from, rather than bother about the fate of previous ones. This level of neglect is boldly written on subsequent phases of project cycles: construction, commissioning, operation and abandonment. Only the contract signing phase matters. The scant regard given to commissioning is only cursory. To score political points, period!Other phases elicit no interest.

To be sure, no long-term development planning not fathomed with a full complement of environmental conservation principles will succeed. We, therefore, obviously labour in vain over the MDGs 2015, Vision 2020 and the Seven-Point Agenda. They all fly in the face of logic and common sense, because they are not founded on sound environmental frameworks.

It would appear that the many warnings about global warming and climate change are yet to hit home here. For most Nigerians, they are merely far-fetched fantasies of the developed world. Yet the impacts are becoming incrementally recognizable companions on these shores. This might be difficult to make out, though true: a modern solid waste management approach is a key way to mitigate their dire consequences. If only our governments will become more discerning!

Source – Daily Independent

USA – Solid Waste Industry Managing Trash as a Resource

Technological Innovation Turns Garbage into Energy, While Reducing Emissions, Says Industry Leader in Speech to Washington Economists

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Forget your old-fashioned ideas about the solid waste industry. It’s not just about hauling garbage anymore.

So said Bruce J. Parker, president and CEO of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), in a speech today to the Society of Government Economists in Washington. NSWMA represents the private sector solid waste industry in the United States.

“Most Americans probably don’t recognize today’s garbage industry for who we really are – one of the most environmentally responsive and innovative industries in the nation,” said Parker. “The nearly 400,000 American men and women who work in the public and private sectors of our industry – in positions as varied as haulers, mechanics, civil engineers and environmental scientists – have long moved beyond simply picking up trash.”

“Americans throw out more than 250 million tons of garbage each year. Our industry continues to protect public health and the environment by managing this waste,” Parker said. “But in recent years, we’ve pioneered technologies that have changed the ways we deal with our trash. We’ve invested tens of millions of dollars, not only to modernize landfills and boost recycling rates, but also to cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, and find renewable sources of energy that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Parker pointed to waste-based energy projects, which turn household garbage into clean, renewable energy. In addition to 87 waste-to-energy facilities operated by the industry – generating enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes – it also operates 470 landfill-gas-to-energy projects that provide electricity and heat for corporate and government users in 44 states. The U.S. EPA has identified an additional 520 landfills across the nation as potential candidates for similar energy projects.

“Landfill-gas-to-energy projects also address global warming by capturing methane, a potent greenhouse gas,” Parker noted. The EPA estimates that using methane as renewable, “green” energy brings environmental and energy benefits equivalent to eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions of 195 million barrels of oil a year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted that landfill-gas recovery directly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Other industry initiatives include working with truck manufacturers to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles, investing in the development of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, compressed natural gas and ethanol, using renewable sources of energy such as solar to power compacting equipment, and placing solar panels and wind turbines on landfills to produce even more energy.

“Increasingly, the industry is relying on cleaner-burning fuels to power our fleet of 130,000 trucks,” Parker said. “We’re also looking toward hybrid technology to further reduce greenhouse emissions and improve air quality.”

Recycling and composting offer another important environmental success story, Parker said. The industry processed recycling for or composted slightly more than one third of all municipal solid wastes in 2007, conserving precious resources, protecting air and water from potential pollution and leading to a 2.5 percent reduction in America’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. EPA.

“The solid waste industry is proud of its environmental achievements, but there is much more to do. Our collective efforts have made a difference, and we continue to raise the bar,” Parker said.

NSWMA represents for-profit companies in North America that provide solid, hazardous and medical waste collection, recycling and disposal services, and companies that provide professional and consulting services to the waste services industry. For more information about how America’s solid waste management professionals are serving as environmental health and safety stewards, protecting our environment and serving our communities, please visit http://www.everydayenvironmentalists.org/environmentalists.

Source – Business Wire