The waste management system in a city is of vital importance to environment protection as well as public health and well-being of citizens. This is due to it potentially provides economic benefits related to the possibilities of reusing and/or recycling waste and creates opportunities for community development, such as jobs, new business creation, etc. In addition, it contributes to the protection of resources through resources generation from waste upgrading.
In contrast, waste management systems’ failures have significant negative consequences for the community, the environment and future availability of resources. Many cities today are negatively affected by waste management failures that can be very different depending on the level of development of the city. For instance, lack of security or even engineering of land fields and the fact that many times represent an endpoint in the life cycle of hazardous wastes, lack of information of many decision-makers in government and industry about the techniques and technologies involved, inability or unwillingness of municipal authorities in many areas to provide waste collection services to all residents in their jurisdiction, lack of control regarding waste segregation what can have influence on the recycling rate, etc. This can result in severe environmental consequences including health risks related to pollution, resource shortage and the loss of economic opportunities. Carefully weighed political planning and decision making in this field are thus crucial.
The huge economic and industrial development over the last decades, combined with the rapid increase of urban populations, has put extreme pressure on many cities’ solid waste management systems. Even though progress has been made, there is still work to do in order to identify and implement sustainable solutions for waste collection, recycling, treatment, and disposal. Experience over the last 30 years has shown that it is not enough to rely on technical solutions and that a more integrated approach is required.
The demands of urban populations for greener and smarter waste management systems make indispensable the constant implementation of more sustainable solutions for waste management planning. This includes integrated approaches towards collection, recycling, treatment and disposal.
The key factors for a sustainable waste management system are: people education (competence of the municipalities and citizens’ awareness), engineering support (material resources and know-how), enforcement (provisions of incentives, awards and recognitions) and entrepreneurship (micro financing, marketing and trading are necessary tools to ensure that developed products and services will be profitable). People will thereby realise that integrated waste management systems support economic goals and ensure sustainability of an enterprise in the long run.
The proposed Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) is a concept which recognises three important dimensions which all need to be addressed when developing or implementing a sustainable solid waste management system. The dimensions include the stakeholders (people or organisations with a stake or interest in solid waste management, like service users, municipality, ministry, informal and formal private sector, CBOs, NGOs, etc.), the elements (technical components of a waste management system in its different stages: generation, collection, transfer, transport, recycling and disposal) and different aspects that need to be considered in order to come to a sustainable solution (environmental, socio-cultural, financial, technical, institutional, legal/political, etc.).
The scope of the ISWM assessment sets the boundaries of what will be assessed, specifying what to include and what to leave out. It focusses on three key decision points: the area of study, the type of waste to include and whether to include both liquid and solid waste. The choice of focus - which waste streams and which waste - depends on the goals of the assessment and where the initiative is coming from. Accompanying participatory activities ensure the social acceptance of the proposed waste management systems by involving all relevant actors since the beginning of the planning process.
In order to make a successful transition, it is key to count with decision and policy makers for transport service, urban and regional planning, at the national and municipal levels as well inter-municipal (regional) level.
FACILITATORY (PUBLIC) BODIES:
energy and waste department; planning and development department; environmental and sustainability department; health and social well-being department; policy development department; socio-economic development department; strategic planning department
LOCAL TASK FORCE:
local of regional authority; professional expert; business; ngo; community group
dense inner city; (sub-)urban communities; urban region
MAIN NECESSARY RESOURCES ARE:
community trust; local knowledge; expert knowledge; monetary investment; political back-up; space; legal legitimization; institutional set-up
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