Authors: Chiwona B., Ganiza Y., Paseli P. Themuka M.
Maximise Efficiency, Minimise Waste
In future, waste management is expected to become more difficult and costly for both the government and city residents if population growth and urbanization trends are not properly checked. In recent years the country has seen rapid population growth which is currently at the rate of 2.9 %, as reported by the National State of Environment and Outlook Report of 2010. 86% of the population lives in rural areas and these people are primarily dependent on subsistence agriculture. Nearly 60% of this group cultivate less than 1 hectare of arable land and over time there has been a decrease of the rural population due to migration to urban areas.
As population continues to increase it is necessary to employ techniques which will improve waste management in the country to ensure a healthy living and working environment for the citizens. Government is making a lot of strides in its efforts to curb waste nuisance in the country. Among others, the country has adopted the 4 Rs approach to waste management which calls everyone to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle waste.
A study conducted by Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Associates in low income urban areas of Lilongwe and Blantyre cities in 2011 revealed that the problem of managing waste is poor and inefficient in urban areas where many low-income populations live. Even when a collection service is provided in such areas, the quality, and coverage of the service is much lower than that made available to middle and high-income areas due to many factors. Two important reasons are that these communities usually evolve without any type of planning therefore making it difficult for waste collection vehicles to reach. Secondly, these communities are often illegal settlements who generally do not pay any municipal taxes, which can be ploughed back, into the required community services such as waste management.
The 4Rs Approach
Refusing or avoiding waste involves preventing and minimizing waste production in production systems. This can be achieved by use of less material in production and designing long lasting products.
Reducing is characterized by minimizing waste production through behavior change. This includes transaction to more paperless systems, avoiding consumption of water from plastic bottle and banning of thin plastics.
Reusing mainly focuses on use of already used materials to prevent introduction of new waste. Examples are reusing carrier bags, refilling printer cartilages for reuse and reusing used beverage bottles.
Recycling which is sometimes referred to as recovery promotes a culture of processing used commodities or waste materials into new resources or commodities. Some of the processes under this include use of animal dung to produce biogas, processing used plastic shoes and utensils into new ones, processing used paper into usable paper and use of food and green waste to produce compost.
In a nut shell, Government appeals to the nation to collaborate in ensuring that the country:
- Increases the capacity and scope of waste management programmes
- Improves and extend programmes to recycle and reuse waste paper, plastics and water
- Encourages the conversion of organic waste into compost by setting up demonstration plots and training local communities
- Increases the coverage of campaigns for improved hygiene and waste management practices
- Government of Malawi. (2010). Malawi State of Environment and Outlook Report, Environmental Affairs Department, Lilongwe.
- Clean Waste Group, LEAD Associates Cohort 16. (2011). Waste Management Practices in Low Income Urban Areas Study Report.
- https://www.commercial.hsbc.com.hk/1/2/commercial/livingbusiness/natural_resource/waste/4RGreen Achievement
Yasinta Ganiza, Lilongwe, Malawi. firstname.lastname@example.org
Patricia Paseli, Zomba, Malawi. email@example.com
Matrida Themuka, Nkhotakota, Malawi. firstname.lastname@example.org