Solid waste means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded materials including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material, resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations, and from community activities.
The production ratio of domestic waste, industrial waste, chemical waste, health institution related waste or harmful waste in KMC (Kathmandu Metropolitan City) is in increasing order which posed challenges to the environment. According to the Local Self-Government Act, 1999, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is responsible for solid waste management, while under the Government of Nepal Rules 2012, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MOFALD) is responsible for formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation policies, plan and program related to sewerage and sanitation, and the Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD) looks after the sewerage and drainage system. KMC manages all street sweeping, waste collection, transportation, and final disposal and also other many private organizations are engaged in waste collection. KMC is facing a big problem on the management of transfer center and landfill site in an environment-friendly manner due to poor road access to the landfill, inefficient transport system. As per the SWM act, solid waste needs to be managed in a systematic and effective way by decreasing at its sources, reuse and processing. In terms of the SWM in Kathmandu, street sweeping service on the main road and historical areas, door to door waste collection, transportation, current transfer center and landfill site were found satisfactory. However, people were still not much aware of solid waste management. Also, there was insufficient efficient manpower, delay in decision making and waste volume was in increasing order which need to be controlled to protect environmental health issues. (Environmental Audit report, 2015). This paper will discuss the current waste management system, impact of waste on public health and environment followed by conclusion and recommendation.
Solid Waste Production in Kathmandu
A study done by Mohan et al. (2011), shows that 497.3 gm/day of solid waste was generated from households whereas 48.5, 113.3 and 26.1 kg/facility/day of waste was generated from restaurants, hotels and school, respectively. The study also found that 69.3 metric tons of street litter were found per day. Although the city reported that solid waste generation rate was 320 metric tons per day, municipal solid waste generation rates were 523.8 metric tons per day. Among the solid waste generated, 71% was organic wastes, 12% plastics, 7.5% paper and paper products, 5% dirt and construction debris and 1% of hazardous wastes. There are three sanitary landfill sites, Sisdole landfills site, Pokhara sanitary landfills site and Karaute danda landfills site. A study carried out by Bijay & Ajay, (2011) found that 61.86%, 49.12% and 65.81% of organic waste are found in Sisdole, Pokhara and Karaute danda landfill sites respectively.
Waste Management System in Past and in Recent Days in Kathmandu
The waste management system in Kathmandu was labor intensive and disposal system didn't meet the environmental standard. Municipal wastes used to be the mixture of organic to inorganic and hazardous to non-hazardous wastes. The wastes were directly piled on the street corner or on the ground and it was collected by municipal solid waste workers. Sanitary landfill was absent and wastes were buried in river bank which directly deteriorates the air quality and pollutes water. Similarly, open sewerage, pile up garbage and open dumping sites, inadequate water supply and poor sanitation were other environmental problems of Kathmandu. The poor waste management system causes serious health problem (Pandey, 2004). However, lots of changes can be seen in the waste management system. According to the environment report (2015), the waste is at least separated into organic and inorganic waste. Different kind of plan and policies are implemented to improve the waste management system. The Government of Nepal provides 50% of subsidy on compost bin to a local resident in Kathmandu. The decision about distribution of segregation bin for separating household waste at source at a 25% rate was made by 20th municipal council. The Kathmandu metropolitan city has started door to door waste collection, vehicle collection and road-based collection and also KMC was working with collaboration to PSOs to collect household waste. The municipalities spend an average of 10% of their total budget on SWM, of which about 60%–70% is used for street sweeping and collection, 20%–30% for transport, and the rest for final disposal. Low budget is the main reason for poor SWM.
Current Solid Waste Management System in Nepal
Collection and Segregation
The study showed that 30% of surveyed households in the municipalities practice segregation of waste at source. It means, waste from 70% of household in municipalities goes to the stream for collection and disposed of by municipalities in the form of mixed waste.
Transport and Final Disposal
Generally, rickshaws and carts are used for primary collection, tractors for secondary collection and finally dump trucks for transport to the disposal sites. The riverside and roadside are used as an open dumping site in 45 different municipalities out of 58. Only 6 municipalities (KMC, Lalitpur, Pokhara, Ghorahi, Dhankuta and Tansen) have constructed sanitary landfill sites. The different currently practiced disposal method are Sanitary landfill, controlled dumping, open dumping, riverside dumping, open dumping and riverside dumping, roadside dumping.
Resource Recovery Methods
Municipalities are facing environmental, financial and social burden for waste management due to low budget. The study found that the minimal resource recovery activities are being conducted in the municipalities of Nepal. Some of them are recycling and composting.
Public Awareness and Community Mobilization
Low public awareness is another cause of poor SWM. Data showed that only 37 municipalities conducted an awareness program about SWM to their staff whereas, only 10% of them conducted on a regular basis and more than 65% rarely conduct them.
Special Waste Management
Different kind of waste is managed in different ways. For instance, incineration is done for medical waste, and also sometimes they are treated by burning. In some of the municipal medical waste is mixed with municipal waste.
Impact of Solid Waste on Human Health, Animal and Aquatic
Contact with solid waste can harm to environment and health. The mixture of hazardous waste with municipal waste creates potential risk to health. Improper handling of waste can be very hazardous. Some of the examples are, chemical inhalation can cause chemical poisoning, low birth weight, cancer, congenital malformation, neurological diseases, nausea and vomiting, mercury toxicity from eating fish with a high level of mercury, resulted in high algal population in river and sea, degrade water and soil quality (Alam & Ahmade, 2013).
Impact of Solid Waste Management on the Environment
One of the major environmental issues is the release of gas by decomposing garbage's. Methane composition can reach up to 50% of the composition of landfill gas at maximum anaerobic decomposition. Also, those gases are responsible for the change in greenhouse gas effect and climate change. Local surface and groundwater system are in threat due to leachate (Alam & Ahmade, 2013).
A national SWM policy and strategy that specifies key policy objectives, guiding principles and an implementation strategy with a timeline and a clear monitoring and evaluation mechanism need to be developed to provide clear strategic direction to local bodies. Technical guidelines will also need to be developed for issues such as organic composting, resource recovery technologies, and landfill development and operation. Priority should be given to reduce, reuse and recycle of waste. Local bodies alone cannot meet the challenge of keeping towns clean and livable. Community participation needs to be ensured through information, education, and communication campaigns to enhance citizens' awareness. Current bad practices need to be stopped first. For example, collecting waste from open piles on the roadside, which is done by 49 municipalities, is not only inefficient but highly unhygienic, creating a public nuisance and health risks. Open dumping on riverside and roadside should be stopped.
The volume of solid waste in Kathmandu is in increasing trends. The solid waste in Kathmandu is mainly managed by Kathmandu Metropolitan City, while the Government of Nepaland other concern ministries also have direct or indirect responsibilities regarding waste management. Still, the waste management system is not satisfactory in Kathmandu. KMC is not being able to manage solid waste effectively and efficiently because of lack of technical and human resources, statistical records, insufficient budget and lack of political leadership. The huge amount of waste is found uncollected and open burning of waste is found because of mixing waste, lack of reduction, reuse and recycle system, inefficient collection and transport system, multiple handling of waste, poor transportation facilities to landfill and due to lack of awareness. The different types of wastes are not separated from each other. Public awareness is still not satisfactory. So, special priority should be given in an awareness program from concern authorities. Although waste management is not satisfactory, there has been a lot of improvement and changes in the waste management system in Kathmandu.
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