The material, substance or a by-product which is worthless, unwanted, or undesirable for someone is normally called Waste. Waste may be of two kinds, liquids or solids. Those waste substances which are in solid form like plastics, styrofoam containers, bottles etc are named as solid waste while domestic washings, chemicals, oils, waste water from ponds are liquid waste because those are liquid in their natural state.
The waste that is capable of undergoing anaerobic or aerobic decomposition, such as food, garden material, paper and paperboard are referred to biodegradable wastes. Micro-organisms are directly responsible for this biodegradability like bacteria, fungi, and biological enzymes.
Animal & human wastes, cotton, wool, wood and vegetable trash products also come under the heading of biodegradable wastes. On the other hand, those objects that cannot be decomposed by microorganisms, named as non-biodegradable wastes. For example, plastic bags, cans, bottles, glasses and other plastic products.
The waste may be hazardous or non-hazardous in nature. Those substances which are risky to use agriculturally, industrially, even economically come under the umbrella of hazardous wastes. This is because of their properties like reactivity, corrosiveness, ignitability, toxicity and so on. These characteristics make them hazardous and unfit for use. Whereas Non-hazardous are those wastes which are safe to use industrially, agriculturally or economically.
Sources and characteristics of solid waste
Waste can be collected from various sources in an environment. The main source of enormous production of waste is human itself, the human being. The greater extent of waste production into the surrounding environment is depleting the natural resources at a very rapid rate. Besides this, there are many other sources like residential, commercial or industrial, municipal and agricultural so on.
Unfortunately, in most cities of Pakistan, waste management is in worst condition. The objective of this article is to carry out situational analysis of waste management in Pakistan specifically in the major cities. Furthermore, it is important to create awareness campaign among the citizens to keep our motherland clean and to save the productive resources.
Solid waste management
Solid wastes may be corrosive that mean these may contain high concentration of very high or low acid or base. Such wastes are more ignitable that shows these can create fire at any time under certain circumstance with the source of heat or sparking. Cigarette, cigar and match box etc. are common example of corrosive waste. Solid waste have high toxicity level and are more reactive. Thus, are more harmful when any living body ingest them, including both human beings and animals.
Impact of solid waste on health
Inappropriate treatment of solid waste causes harmful effect on the citizens. This may lead to serious health problems to human as well as animals, aquatic and environment. Solid waste is collected from many places in the environment on earth around the living body like from school, hospitals, clinics, medical stores and chemical industries etc.
Municipal staff members who are responsible for the collection of waste from are more vulnerable to health issues. The chemical poisoning through chemical inhalation is most common in sanitary workers. Waste lying on water bodies can obstruct the storm water runoff. Resulting it can penetrate in food and may cause neurological diseases, cancer, nausea, vomiting, diabetic and many more.
Moreover, the anaerobic conditions within landfills may cause to produce mercury microorganisms. This kind of waste have high potential of mercury bioaccumulation. Mercury is hazardous not because of its toxicity but it can biomagnified in food web. Moreover, it can travel the atmosphere through air, water and soil.
Global and Pakistan scenario
Globally, an increase in waste production is the consequence of mushroom growth of population, industrialization and altered lifestyles of the people. During late 1990’s, the worldwide average waste production was 300-400 kg per person, annually.
In Pakistan, thes waste management conditions are worst. In small cities, there are heaps of human and industrial waste, no one is treating or managing it. The miserability of the situation is that people as well as administration have no concern to cleanliness and waste management.
Citizens are being ignorant of the consequences are exposing to toxic and carcinogenic waste. Thus, getting entrap in many skin problems, diarrhea, flu etc.
According to an estimate, municipal authorities are collecting only 50% of the waste generating in different cities of Pakistan. While to keep cities clean, this ratio should reach at least to 75%. As per reports total solid waste production in Pakistan is 54,888 tons per day.
General waste collection methods
Governments specify the particular municipal authorities in country which have direct concern to collect the waste from many points in each city of Pakistan. There is a specific framework under the banner of municipal authorities to collect waste from door-to-door, assemble in temporarily containers and send it to landfills. But, most unfortunately, authorities are commonly ignoring the slums and remote areas.
Solid waste disposal strategies
Disposal of wastes is necessary practice among the people of all the communities. Most of the people in Pakistan are unaware about the results of what they are doing in the name of waste disposal. This may cause severe and inconvenient problems for human surroundings.
This is need of the time to create awareness that only the disposal or dumping is not the solution or way to manage the generating waste. We need to devise strategies in order to manage and modify the waste products. Just dumping the waste in landfills may increase the threat of underground toxic activity. That’s why it’s time to aware people to save the environment, as well as, all the living entities on the earth.
Today it is the right time to promote the proper management and treatment rather than disposal of waste in or on the ground surface. As the issue of improper handling of waste is gaining popularity in all over the world, it is more pertinent to highlight its importance in the developing countries like Pakistan.
The more advanced the settlements, the more complex the waste management has become. People all over the world inclined towards the advertisement that is a reasonable and impactful step towards management of waste. But at current situation, the risk of negative impacts of solid waste has gone so high that just advertisement would be inadequate to make the people aware.
Technological advancements like internet specially the social media can be a very useful platform to create awareness about managing these chronic problems in the society.
Management and future scenarios for solid waste
After deep observation and analysis one can easily conclude that the situation is becoming very critical and it will be worse in near future, if we do not start the proper management practices right now. There are several main drawbacks which are of direct concern with pitiable solid waste management.
Management of waste produced by different sources includes suitable isolation and precise recycling of the entire component present in the solid waste. For management, there are different ways that we can adopt to protect our environment to save our lives, indirectly.
A basic principle for solid waste management is associated with 4-R’s, which is most important to manage solid waste. These 4-R’s are: Reduce, Reuse, Recycling and Recover.
‘Reduce’ gives the concept of not buying anything that you do not need really; try to rely on the object that is already available to you and use it until you can.
On the other hand, ‘Reuse’ refers to minimize the amount of debris generated. For this, you should change your lifestyle as your part in management of solid waste in order to keep your environment clean. It also refers to use the object again and again as you can do. To use the objects for longer duration you should properly manage your things by washing and cleaning after using it.
Recycling is most important in management of solid objects that people usually consider as waste. Collect or store the things which can recycle to be given to waste picker rather to waste it. This concept can get more popularity by organizing seminars at different locations of Pakistan.
Many social workers and welfare institutions, NGOs can take initiative in the developing countries including Pakistan to save life including human, animals and aquatic. Donors should take part in this movement by their donations. There should be an involvement of general public and also from the part of entrepreneurs. It is also a responsibility toward the government to take part of it by starting campaign on electronic and print media as it is in daily use among citizens.
Recover is the final stage of waste management. It may be possible to recover materials or energy from waste which once cannot reduce, reuse or recycle. Several countries are generating electricity from waste.
Learning can change the nation’s concepts if teachers are at the early classes create this sense in students. Teachers being the most precious assets can play an important role in any movement by delivering the lectures in schools and colleges. In the first instance, proper disposal by citizens should be guaranteed at the source. There should be sufficient, suitable-size and sensibly-located waste-bins in commercial areas and public places. Authorities must ensure legislation along with check and balance in the waste management sector.
This article is jointly written by Talha Aslam, Dr. M. Umer Chattha, Dr. Imran Khan, M. Mahmood Iqbal.