The life style of common man
We are living in the age of 21st century where scientific inventions have change the life style of a common man completely. We developed a lot of new technology without considering that these developments can harm us in many ways. Changing lifestyles, the increasing use of disposable materials and excessive packaging are all contributing to an increase in the amount of waste being created. Waste management is now a global concern. Inadequate collection and disposal of waste poses a serious health risk to the population and is an obvious cause of environmental degradation in most cities of the developing world. Mixed municipal solid waste is dumped either indiscriminately in the neighborhood or, if collected by a waste collection service, disposed of in uncontrolled dumpsites. Problems associated with Solid waste management are complex because of the quantity and diversity of the nature of waste and financial limitations on public services in large cities. The problem is not only confined to land, it includes air and water as well.
Before discuss the waste management system of Pakistan and its impact on environment, there are few essential things which should be discuss. What is Waste management system? And why it is important?
Waste management is the collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal, and monitoring of waste materials. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity, and is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health and the environment.
Waste management is very important because waste that is not properly managed can create serious health or social problems in a community. It is very important to keep human waste out of water supplies. Human waste contains diseases that make people sick. All the waste material of every kind is damaging the environment badly.
Due to ineffective development planning, large cities are confronting a number of complex urban problems. It is estimated, that the urban areas of Pakistan generate about 54,850 tons of solid waste daily or about 20 million tons per annum.
Presently only a part of solid waste is collected, transported and dumped. The means are inefficient and in most cases inadequate to cope with the present day challenges i.e. bulk and composition of municipal waste. Presently there is not a single city with properly planned and efficient system of SWM reaching the acceptable standard of environmental protection. Proper method of dumping the wastes is not employed. Hazardous hospital and industrial wastes are simply treated as ordinary waste. In most of the areas solid waste especially plastic bags get into open drains and sewers choking the system. In addition, bio-non-degradable solid wastes including toxic hospital and industrial wastes are found lying in heaps. Open burning of waste and bio-non-degradable component of wastes like plastic bags are adding to the pollution problems. Owing to the low levels of development and economic levels, it is not possible to make use of latest techniques, technologies and equipment being used in developed world. For this reason many parts of the large urban areas and in some cases entire cities have turned into environmental black spots. Our present system on solid waste management is in dire need of it’s over hauling on comprehensive basis. The respective municipalities despite spending their 20 to 40% budget have not been able to achieve the desirable standards of environmental quality. In view of this, it would be appropriate to involve private sector in solid waste management (SWM) on the whole or partial basis for any part or whole of the city. The involvement of private sector will enable the respective municipality to achieve the desirable standards of solid waste management with the reduced cost due to their efficiency and management.
Solid Waste Generation Estimates:
According to NCS Pakistan generates 47,290 tones of solid waste per day with the growth rate of2.4% per year. That means present estimate is 54,888 tones/ day. The Rate of generation of waste average from all type of municipal controlled areas varies from 0.283 kg/capita/day to 0.613 kg/capita/day. There is no weighing facility at disposal sites, no tradition of waste sampling and analysis. There is a big difference exists in solid waste generated and amount reaching final disposal site.
Sources of Solid Waste:
There are many sources of waste generation, the table below gives the source of the waste generation and the wastage comes out from these sources.
In addition to these sources the other important source is necessary to mention there and that is hospital wastes. Hospital wastes are categorized according to their weight, density and constituents. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified medical waste into different categories. These are:
- Infectious: material-containing pathogens in sufficient concentrations or quantities that, if exposed, can cause diseases. This includes waste from surgery and autopsies on patients with infectious diseases;
- Sharps: disposable needles, syringes, saws, blades, broken glasses, nails or any other item that could cause a cut;
- Pathological: tissues, organs, body parts, human flesh, fetuses, blood and body fluids;
- Pharmaceuticals: drugs and chemicals that are returned from wards, spilled, outdated, contaminated, or are no longer required;
- Radioactive: solids, liquids and gaseous waste contaminated with radioactive substances used in diagnosis and treatment of diseases like toxic goiter; and
Collection of Waste:
Municipal solid waste (MSW) is collected in roadside bins and Municipal Corporation collects it infrequently. Solid waste generation ranges between 0.6 to 0.8 Kg/capita/day and the waste generation growth rate is 2.4% per year. Fairly around 40% of the generated waste remains either at collection points or in streets . It is a common practice to burn this waste in open. Residential waste is usually collected and transported directly to a landfill site. However, these landfills are not designed properly causing problems like incomplete decomposition of MSW, methane production and leach ate contamination of groundwater. At the collection points, different types of waste are not collected separately, and there is no proper waste collection system either. Waste is dumped un-segregated and collected by three methods: 1) hauled container system, 2) stationary container system and 3) bull carts.
In Pakistan, the containers are mostly transported from one place to another with help of a truck or tractor, which is overflowing and not covered properly. The waste spills out of the container and a lot of it falls in the streets before reaching the landfill site. Similarly, in certain areas bull and donkey carts are used to collect the MSW. The cart goes from street to street picking up the waste and is again not a proper system for waste collection.
The solid waste disposal process in Pakistan is one which is least developed. 3 primary ways of disposing waste are in practice – landfill, size reduction and screening. Residential wastes are usually collected and transported directly to a landfill site. When new landfills are being planned, the most important issue is to find a location that is acceptable to the public and to local regulatory agencies. In the management of existing landfills, the major concern is to ensure that proper operational procedures are followed carefully and routinely. In the past, the term sanitary landfill was used to describe landfill where the waste was covered at the end of each day’s operation. Today, sanitary landfill refers to an engineered facility, designed and operated to minimize public health and environmental impacts. Problems with landfills are subject to biological and physical factors in the environment. As a result, they change over time and may cause the several problems including leach ate contamination of groundwater; methane production; incomplete decomposition and separation.
The separation of solid waste components is one of the most positive and effective ways to recover and reuse materials. Size reduction is a process in which collected waste materials are mechanically reduced in size. In practice, the terms shredding, grinding, and milling are used interchangeably to describe mechanical size reduction. The objective of size reduction is to obtain a final product that is reasonably uniform and considerably reduced in size in comparison with its original form.
In addition, screening is used to separate mixtures of materials of different sizes into two or more sizes by using screening surfaces. Many new technologies have been developed to solve MSW problems, but unfortunately, these technologies are either too sophisticated or expensive for use in developing countries like Pakistan.
Formal Sector Involved in SWM:
- Planning & Development Division at Federal and P&D Departments at provincial level are responsible for preparation of development plans and allocation of resources
- The Ministry of Environment is responsible at federal level for policies and programmers’.
- PEPA (Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency) and Provincial EPA’s are main regulatory bodies for implementation of Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997
- Town, Tehsil Municipal Administration(TMAs) are responsible for solid waste collection, transportation and disposal
- TMA’s due to lack of funds, rules, standards, expertise, equipment and vehicles are unable to handle the continuously increasing volumes of municipal waste.
In-Formal Sector Involved in SWM
There are independent operators dealing in waste collection, purchase, separation, restoration, resale and recycling, with the scale of operations ranging from itinerant manual workers to large recycling factories.
- Kabaris are large-scale waste dealers who operate from shops and warehouses. There are approximately 1,000 in Karachi and most specialize in just one type of waste which they buy at auctions or from middle dealers and resell to recycling plants, or recycle themselves.
- The Safai Kamai Bank operates every Tuesday from a bazaar in Karachi and uses the slogan “Garbage is Gold”. People can bring their dry garbage for sale on a per kilogram basis – the price paid depends on the item. Items purchased include newspapers, other paper waste, plastic bags, metal, glass and plastic bottles.
- Waste Busters collect rubbish from households and charge about US$2 a month, which includes the delivery of about 30 rubbish bags. The refuse is taken to the transfer station where it is sorted out and loaded onto trucks for recycling.
- Pakistan Environment Welfare and Recycling Program (PEWARP) has established a small production unit manufacturing three organic products from waste purchased from itinerant buyers at Karachi’s huge vegetable market. The vegetable waste is crushed and the liquid extract collected which results in liquid concentrate sold as a pesticide, dilute liquid sold as fertilizer and solid residue.
- Shehri, a Karachi based NGO, also known as ‘Citizens for a Better environment’ is primarily concerned with the protection and conservation of the natural and built environment. It has produced recommendations for improved bin designs and promotes awareness on solid waste management.
Recycling waste materials
The separation practices are well established and, as a result, quantities of certain waste components, such as bottles, newspapers, plastic, food waste and aluminum cans etc. are considerably reduced in the waste stream. Once re-saleable waste components have been separated from waste they are considered to be raw materials:
Increases in population and migration into cities have created serious environmental problems including inadequate solid and liquid waste management, lack of safe water and minimal pollution control. Many southern cities are characterized by overcrowded housing, contaminated water supplies and lack of proper sewage disposal, drainage or waste collection, all of which contribute to an unhealthy urban environment. Communities living near dump sites also suffer the nuisance of smoke and smells, and such sites – as well as uncollected waste in general – attract rodents and flies which provide a transmission route for disease.
At present very little awareness exists among the stakeholders in Karachi about composting, the product compost, and its characteristics. Alternative nutrient supply to crops is currently practiced through the application of raw sewerage (on vegetables resulting in high health risks regarding to human consumption) and animal manure. The consumption of soil nutrients or similar products is also growing. Thus there is a possibility that if compost were introduced, it may be well received by the increasing potential users.
Improper disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) has serious results for the environment and human health. Problems can spread over a wide area. For example disposal of wastes into nallahs, canals and rivers can pollute the water supply along the whole length of the watercourse. Infections and diseases can spread from dump sites into the general population.
Serious health hazards directly associated with improper solid waste management include skin and eye infections are common; dust in the air at dumpsites can cause breathing problems in children and adults; flies breed on uncovered piles of rotting garbage and spread diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis, and cholera. Mosquitoes transmit many types of diseases like malaria and yellow fever similarly, dogs, cats and rats living around refuse carry a variety of diseases including plague and flea born fever. In addition, intestinal, parasitic and skin diseases are found in workers engaged in collecting refuse.
Solid waste also contributes heavily to ground and water as well as air pollution levels. The most serious problem is groundwater contamination. As water filters through any material, chemicals in the material may dissolve in the water, a process called leaching. The resulting mixture is called leach ate. As water percolates through MSW, it makes a leach ate that consists of decomposing organic matter combined with iron, mercury, lead, zinc, and other metals from rusting cans, discarded batteries and appliances. It may also contain paints, pesticides, cleaning fluids, newspaper inks, and other chemicals. Contaminated water can have a serious impact on all living creatures, including humans, in an ecosystem.
When waste is burnt heavy metals like lead, toxic gases and smoke spreads over residential areas. The wind also carries waste, dust and gases caused by decomposition. Putrefaction of waste in sunlight during daytime results in bad smells and reduced visibility.
Pakistan has responded to its environmental problems by developing laws, establishing government agencies and accepting technical assistance from donors. Despite this, the response remains fragmented and environmental institutions, laws, and other initiatives do not solve the whole problem.
Environmental legislation is still not well developed in Pakistan, especially in comparison to the developed world. For example, there are no national quality standards for MSW. Currently, individuals dispose off wastes by throwing away plastic bags, wrappers, fruit peels, cigarette butts, etc. in public places. Littering spreads pollution and ends up clogging drains and causing sanitation problems. This can be controlled by making roadside dustbins or proper disposal of waste at home. If proper waste management is practiced, this waste could be converted into useful products.
Raising public awareness through media campaigns has been a welcomed step from the government’s regularly authorities. However, the culture of reduce, reuse and recycle is still a long way from setting in as a trait of more conscientious society.
Solid waste management is also one of the core areas identified in the National Environmental Action plan as SWM planning in Pakistan is developing into a complex task because of increasing population. The primary focus of the program is to strengthen institutional capacities and policy processes for solid waste management. Currently the collection capacity of the concerned departments is less than desirable levels and only about 60% of the solid municipal waste is collected while remaining goes unattended.
To understand the basic problems of Waste management System of Pakistan, We chose Karachi as a case study and meet some officials of KMC of different town. To contact these people is very difficult; the officials do not come on time and sometime not present on their seats during their duty times. After a long effort we finally got some people who gave some time and explained the system. Due to security reasons we did not allow to take pictures. The main officials are Mr. Fahad (ATO, Gulshan Town), Mr. Nafees (KMC officer). Mr. Talha (KMC officer, Saddar Town).
We worked with UNAP (United Nation Association of Pakistan) and CDGK on their MISSION GREEN Project last year, therefore we have already enough information about the current system.
Extraction of all interviews:
Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan, a home to over 10 million people. Responsibilities for the collection, transport and disposal of household, commercial, and institutional waste as well as street sweepings, lie with the municipal authorities. Sanitary workers are employed by Town Municipal Administration to sweep streets and are often hired by residents to provide a primary waste collection service. Recently some private entrepreneurs, mostly refugees from Afghanistan have entered into the field of waste collection. Till 2001, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) was the responsible agency for solid waste management. Since August 2001, the administrative structure has been changed and the city is governed by the City District Government of Karachi which has replaced KMC and various other local authorities. The city of Karachi is now divided into 18 towns. The solid waste management remains the responsibility of city government and town municipal administration. According to estimates provided by Karachi Metropolitan Cooperation (KMC), approximately 100 tons/day originates from the Vegetable Market and some 70 tones/day from the Empress Market. Most of the waste generated at these markets are biodegradable and should thus constitute an excellent raw material for composting. Food wastes and garden waste are dominant in high-income localities as much of the remaining and half eaten food was disposed off in the refuse while the fresh food material was given to the servants. Here garden waste constitutes nearly 22 percent of the refuse compare to low-income settlements where dry leaves and other garden waste were found to be much less than 9%.
Pakistan has all the abilities to cover up these problems. But the political instability and other economics and social issues causes hindrance to achieve our goal. Our government is working hard to cope up with this issue and many projects already started so we are in a process of change and we will find a feasible way to dispose our waste or reuse them for our benefits.
- INTERVIEWS BY THE KMC OFFICIALS