Effective Management of wastes in cities

Length: 1905 words

Effective waste management in the cities is the key to provision of clean and heath environment for all, reduced pollution to the ecosystems, and cutting down excessive financial costs in form of externalities. Ensuring that waste is effectively managed has turned out to be a key demand due to the negative effects that are currently being experienced globally (American Recycler, 2008). Waste management is the holistic process that includes its movement from the point of production to disposal. However the modern systems have shifted to include recycling, reuse of the recovered materials, and monitoring systems for sustainability.

Daven and Klein (2008) notes that all the major cities are currently caught up in the controversies of waste management a notion that has warranted international concerns to address the serious environmental, health, and financial considerations. Paper overview This paper explores the major waste practices that are applied in various cities with varying levels of effectiveness. Besides, it evaluates the current statistics of the cities waste status and examines the major international concerns to address the problem.

Using the principles of waste management, the paper outlines the application of the modern systems of waste management in the major cities and

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gives major recommendations of how the system can be improved for sustainability. Key waste management statistics and facts Notably, the figures and statistics of the world municipal wastes vary considerably due to ambiguity in the definition of the terms ‘waste’, data collection techniques, and the eco-political factors that either inflate or give lower values.

However, wastes from the cities (municipal wastes) constitute 14-20% of the total global waste annually. Figure 1. Average of global wastes by Worldwatch Institute, (2009) In developed countries, per capita generation of waste is about 5. 3% kilograms per day while for the developing countries is less than 0. 8 kilograms (Worldwatch Institute, 2009). Over the last century waste has recorded major changes in terms of quantity, quality, and increasing presence of hazardous materials in the waste streams.

In the year 2000 and 20001, a total of 318 million and 338 million tons of hazardous waste was recorded respectively. Due to poor waste management, the constituents of the wastes always get into the natural environment endangering the people and biodiversity (Toma, 2008). Waste management practices ? Waste collection This is possibly the most initial processes for addressing the problem of wastes in the major cities. At this point, the process entails the gathering together of all the wastes before it is transported for further treatment and disposal.

This point involves direct interaction between the households and/r or business entities with the wastes management institutions. This system has failed drastically in most of the cities due to the fact that households and business enterprises do not sort their wastes. To effectively manage the later processes, it is necessary that all the households separate their wastes especially between the organic and inorganic materials (United Nations Secretariat Environmental program (UNEP), 2006). This would not only reduce the cost of sorting out the same wastes, but also raise the overall capacity for later recycling.

Besides, the households should be encouraged to reduce their wastes at the source to reduce the overall load getting into the systems. For the liquid waste, the collection is totally different as it is collected through a system of interconnected waste piping systems that collect the liquid wastes to the treatment sites. However, most of the developing countries generally direct their liquid wastes into the nearby natural waterways causing great harm to the flora and fauna present (Keisuke, 2008). ? Transportation

Transport is the second major process in waste management that acts as a factor and an indicator of the capacity of a city to address its waste issues. Whereas transport is not a major problem of waste management in the developed countries, it remains the major setback in the developing countries. Delays indicate overflow of wastes in different cities as experienced in Manila and Myanmar. Since waste treatment cannot be located at all points in the towns, effective waste transportation ensures that waste is removed and treated on time.

Notably, as provided for by the Basel Convention, it is important that waste is treated at the nearest possible points with the production areas (Keisuke, 2008). ? Processing Poor processing of wastes after collection is the sole major factor that has mainly contributed to the current waste disaster in different cities. Due to different characteristics of wastes from different units, the processing techniques are similarly different. (a) Chemical treatment This entails use of chemicals to treat the wastes and therefore reduce their overall harmful characteristics.

Most of the processes apply chemical treatment as part of other treatment systems like recycling of plastics. Though this method is highly effective, it is extremely costly and most of the cities do not go for it. Besides, the chemicals used tend to alter the waters characteristics of the aquatic ecosystems (Newman and Isabella, 2008). (b) Biological treatment These are cheap methods that are applied effectively to treat municipal liquid wastes with great efficiency. Notably, over 70% of the municipal liquid wastes consist of biodegradable materials.

Therefore, at the correct temperatures and oxygen, the decomposition bacteria are able to consume most of the organic wastes leaving the water with little harmful organic components which are removed through other processes like chemical treatment. This process has been applied with effective results in major towns like Melbourne. The process appears to be more effective along the tropics due to higher temperatures and can reduce the overall cost with over 75% (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2008). Besides, it do not employ any chemicals and there are very low chances of pollution from it.

(c) Disposal Waste disposal is one of the last steps of waste management which involves total disposal of wastes after treatment has been done. Notably most of the solid wastes from municipalities are not treated, but dumped at different designated dumping sites directly after collection. This forms easy breeding sites for different pests especially the tropical mosquitoes and tsetse flies. Besides, the leachate from the system easily gets to the hydrological cycle via underground water table and compromises the water quality (Worldwatch Institute, 2009).

This makes the action become very costly not just to the individuals but to the government as it seeks the correct treatment for the affected systems. According to the National Research Council (U S) (2008) modern land disposal of the waste in a land fill involves a specially engineered system that prevents any form of contamination between the landfill and the hydrological system. This is done through use of an impervious layer of clay or polymers in the land fill sides. Besides, a treatment system is established to collect and treat the leachate before being released to the natural systems.

Though analysts have differed over the costs of running such a facility being relatively high, it is highly efficient in terms of environmental friendliness and reduction of health problems that could arise from it. (d) Recycling According to Lohani (2005), recycling entails processing of the used materials to new products as a main way of increasing utility of the intrinsic materials, reducing potentially harmful impacts of wastes, and reducing the consumption of new materials to make similar products.

Bulk of the cities’ wastes like glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics are recyclable. Similarly, the debate on the benefits of recycling is far from over with many municipal authorities finding it difficult to install effective recycling systems. However, when effectively articulated it has major benefits to the cities. Porter (2002) points that in 83% of the global cases, recycling is most efficient mode to dispose house hold and industrial wastes.

Economists argue that the fiscal benefit of recycling is the reduction in fiscal externalities that accrue from untreated wastes. When the process is effected from the point of source to ensure sorting is done more efficiently, the most cost effective systems established, and technical experts in maintaining the process and marketing its products are put in place, it is the most efficient system. As indicated earlier, recycling is a final process in the waste management and therefore calls for cooperation and efficacy in the application of other processes preceding it.

Cities should assimilate this system to ensure that all aspects of solid and liquid wastes are addressed conclusively. However, the current economic aspects relating to recycled products has elicited new controversy as it is seen as a way of encouraging waste production by the recyclers to maintain their systems (Claire, 2008). Conclusion and recommendations International concerns for waste management and modern systems ? Waste management and Agenda 21 This was the main outcome of the United Nations Convention on Environment and Development (Rio Summit, 1992).

Though, waste issue is recurrent throughout the whole document, chapters 20, 21, and 22 deals specifically with wastes and how it should be addressed at different stages of production, processing and disposal. The Rio summit calls for changes in consumption patterns by the communities as a main way of reducing the whole problem holistically. It also calls for sustainable human settlements and integration of environmental ideals in the local decision making processes.

It also calls for establishments of the best possible technologies at all levels of waste management to ensure cost efficiency. ? Basel convention Due to the rising negative effects, the Basel convention was established to address the concerns. The convention sought to classify the wastes and establish the best possible systems for treating and disposing them without causing any negative effect. The convention indicates that wastes should be treated at the nearest point of source as possible to avoid transferring the same problem to other regions.

In Article 2 of the treaty, the convention prohibits movement of hazardous wastes from one region to another without confirmation of there being effective systems of treating the same wastes. Besides, article four calls for waste reduction at the source as a mode of minimizing the cost of its treatments and its impacts to the natural systems. Though many states are signatory to the treaty, application of the convention’s demands have been far below par. Notably, all the global and regional conventions addressing issues of natural resources utility calls for effective address into the problem of waste to reduce the resultant impacts.

There should be greater cooperation between the local authorities and the private sector to ensure that all levels of waste management are effectively addressed. Besides, the local communities are major stakeholders as they produce the wastes and should be incorporated in the waste management programs where they are educated on the need to change their consumerism patterns, reducing the waste at the source and separating their wastes for easier latter processing.

Waste should be viewed in a life cycle basis where recycling is made mandatory for all the products (National Research Council (U.S. ), (2008). Finally, waste issues should be viewed from an extended view of their environmental, social, economic, cultural and political orientation that transcends beyond the physical boundaries of different states.

Reference list

American Recycler, (2008). American Recycler December 2008. New York: American Recycler. Claire, F. (2008). Sustainable Workplaces 2008: special report. New York: Workplace Law Group. Daven, J. ; Klein, R. (2008). Progress in Waste Management Research. Miami: Nova Publishers. Keisuke, H. (2008).

Urban Environmental Management and Technology. Washington: Springer. Lohani, B. (2005). ‘Recycling Potentials of Solid Waste in Asia through organized scavenging,’ Conservation ; Recycling, 7(2-4), 181-190. National Research Council (U. S. ), Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment. Washington: National Academies Press. Newman, P. and Isabella, J. (2008). Cities as sustainable ecosystems: principles and practices. Boston: Island Press. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, (2008). OECD environmental outlook to 2030. Geneva: OECD Publishing.

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