Managing non-biodegradable waste

13 Jul, 2016 - 00:07 0 Views

The Herald

Solid waste refers to discarded materials other than fluids and gases. In an urban setup solid waste is chiefly plastic and metal from food packing and beverages containers that are non-biodegradable. Non-biodegradable waste is a type of waste that cannot be broken down into its base compounds by micro-organisms, air, moisture or soil in a reasonable amount of time.Increasing population, rapid urbanisation, industrial growth and modernised lifestyles have increased the demand of processed, preserved and packaged foods and beverages.

As such, solid waste is mainly a direct product of post-consumer materials and it includes plastics and metals. Plastic is a material consisting of any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that can be moulded into solid objects.

Why is non-biodegradable waste of concern?

The traditional and conventional waste management model for Zimbabwean Local Authorities is collection and dumping. This model thrives on collection of services charges to rate payers for financial resources. The rate payer is the property owner who is billed on the assumption that the property is residence of one family albeit with the high urbanisation rate that characterised Zimbabwe post-independence, most urban properties are shelter mainly to more than one family.

Waste generation is depended on number of people per property and as such, finances raised by local authorities are not in tandem with waste generation and removal demand. This scenario persisted and the current status is that most urban municipalities are incapacitated to meet the demand for waste collection, resulting in most of the waste being illegally dumped and littered through towns and cities.

Poor solid waste management is one challenge facing most urban areas in Zimbabwe.

Negative impacts of non- biodegradable solid waste

Improperly managed non- biodegradable waste is persistent in the environment and can result in the following undesirable effects:

Land and water pollution

Harbours pathogens and vectors and promotes the spread of diseases such as cholera and typhoid;

Blockage of water and sewer drains causing flash floods in urban areas;

Death of animals when they from ingest the plastic and it entraps in the digestive system;

Burning of polystyrene polymers (commonly referred to as kaylite) such as foam cups/containers and meat trays releases styrene gas that is associated with several ailments.

What the law say regarding waste generators?

The Environmental Management Act as read with Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007 (Environmental Management (Effluent and Solid waste disposal) Regulations) prescribes that every generator of waste has to develop waste management plans and waste reduction targets.

The waste reduction targets are to include the creation of modes of distribution, such as two way and return systems, that reduces residual waste to a minimum. This was re-emphasised in Statutory Instrument 98 of 2010 (Environmental Management [Plastic Packaging and Plastic Bottles] Regulations).

What has been done to

manage non- biodegradable?

Against the Background of Local Authorities waste management status and the legal requirements of the waste generators, several consultative meetings were held.

Two strategic proposals were pronounced for the management of the non biodegradable waste namely (i) Deposit Refund and the (ii) Levy systems. With further consultations, it emerged that the deposit – refund method that has been used on beverage bottles is not viable for plastics and cans considering the material’s cost. As such the packaging levy was preferred and the proceeds thereof will be channelled into recycling.

In yet another consultative meeting in June 2016, the meeting parties that included the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and its members, the Zimbabwe Confederation of Retailers Association, Bottling Companies, Retailers, recyclers among others that adopted the Beverage container and food packing levy resolved to invite a South African Company, Petco to present the South African levy system in view of possible adoption.

On July 5, 2016, a South African Recycling Company, Extrupet (Pvt) Ltd was tasked to represent Petco, the custodian of the plastic levy in South Africa, presented to a working group on how such a levy supports communities in recycling initiatives in order to keep the country clean. The working group has membership drawn from public and private sectors.

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