Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and economic development from population growth are all contributing to the rise in waste generated from associated activities. Worldwide, 3.5 billion people are without access to waste management services, and open dumping remains the customary waste-disposal method in most low- and lower middle-income countries. Every year, an estimated 1.3 billion tons of solid waste is collected worldwide, and this figure is expected to increase to 2.2 billion ton by 2025 – with almost all of the increase from developing countries.
In these developing countries, waste collection coverage can be as low as around 15%, compared to the 98% for developed economies high-income countries. This poor waste management leads to substantial environmental and health hazards and the challenges faced by developing economies come in the following form:
- Leachate from solid and liquid wastes contaminate soil and water.
- Open burning of waste cause air pollution and health complications.
- Failure to use recycled materials from waste means an acceleration of the need to produce more; which in turn means the need to extract more raw materials that ramp up the pressure on water resources and the environment.
Regrettably, it is the rural and urban poor – who live and work near waste disposal sites – that are most at risk sometimes suffering acute health impacts. These salient facts, along with the reality of poor institutional capacity, financial constraints and lack of political will, make waste management to stand out as the most important planning challenges faced by developing and transition-economy in modern times. For some governments dealing with the mix of environmental, social and poverty issues presented by both formal and informal waste management is a huge struggle. Waste-related problems are often handled in a fragmented and uncoordinated manner, mainly focusing on end-of-pipe solutions rather than on prevention measures and integrated approaches.
Waterclan is working on a greening of the waste management sector through an integrated waste management approach that focuses on 3 R concept – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
1. Reduce: The logic behind it is simple to understand – if there is less waste, then there is less to recycle or reuse.
2. Reuse: conveying salvageable waste to use in activities for which they were originally produced for or alternative uses.
3. Recycle: Transforming waste into material that can be used for another economic activity.
The above concept is essential to achieve the economic, environmental and social objectives of sustainable development. This could generate jobs and contribute to economic growth while addressing environmental issues in a pro-poor and equitable manner.