How to Solve the Problems of Solid Waste Collection

Jacobo Moreno Lampaya

Municipal solid waste collection is a public service that has a critical impact on public health. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of money wasted due to numerous failed collection systems. Sometimes, large numbers of containers and collection. vehicles have been purchased, yet they have only been in operation for short periods of time or the efficiency of the system hardly beats the all-in-one.

The main reason for this is because waste collection is being viewed as a one-size-fits-all situation, when, in fact, local factors have a big impact. These factors include the climate, attitudes and expectations of citizens, economic factors, animals, type of waste, financial planning and purchasing, legislation, and architecture and infrastructure.

What works in German city of 400 K People, can’t be exported to 4M people in Spain and obviously it won’t work in 20 M people city of China which is also different from Brazil .

In Spain we developed a great experience with this transposition from Central Europe waste management procedures because of the cultural and economic gap.

Identify problems before solutions are considered

The principal method that needs to be used is to involve the public. Understand the means of living and their needs, do they have space at home for 6 bins? Do they live in large apartment buildings or sparse homes in the country? Are they young or ageing population?  Do they work industry or services? Tourism or manufacturing economies?

The knowledge we need from them is extremely valuable when it comes to matters such as the frequency of different collection services. Invaluable input is to decide if the main separation must be done at home or at the sorting facility, the first need of a high awareness about environment and best practices and the second is technically feasible if proper supporting service industry is on place and there is a market for it, by sorting out wet and dry in the origin. You also need to have a system in place for monitoring the effectiveness and efficiency of current equipment. After all, if you do not know how your system is performing at present, how are you going to move forward?

Issues to consider

There are a number of key factors when it comes to municipal solid waste collection. A lack of funds is one of these. How can financial resources be increased to deal with this? There are a number of options, including increasing the share of general municipal income that is allotted to solid waste management, increasing the portion of users who pay local charges or taxes, and increasing tariff values.

In addition to this, more efficient use of equipment and manpower is required in order to combat our current inability to provide full coverage. And, what about illegal dumping and littering? To deal with these issue, we need to first diagnose why it is happening, for example, in certain areas this occurs because street containers are not convenient to use. Furthermore, some people are simply ignorant to the ways in which waste should be disposed of, and so education is needed. Other causes include overflowing street containers, fly tipping, and the scattering of waste from official waste collection vehicles. Once the cause of illegal dumping has been found in a specific area, solutions can be put in place to move forward.

Finally, other areas that need to be addressed include the use of vehicles that are not suitable, unreliable vehicles, and the fact that our current system is out of date. Couple this with the large number of complaints being made, and you see why changes are a necessity.

Where to look

This year’s ISWA Congress, to be held in Bilbao from 7-9th October, aims to discuss these issues and more, with an aim to providing an open forum for key decision makers to discuss their unique problems and find solutions to help solve them.

You can read the article in spanish in this link



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