Managing Waste in Urban Areas

Waste Management may not be the most glamorous topic but it plays a vital role in maintaing harmony in urban areas. Without an effective system cities would stink and harbour vast numbers of diseases and pests. Ther is an interesting BBC documentary entitled- Toughest Place to be a binman, click here to learn how waste is managed in the developing world.

The DEFRA website sums up the nature of waste creation and this recent article from The Telegraph explains how plans to fine households who do not deal effectively with their waste do not go far enough.

There are a variety of options that cities follow, here are a few examples. This article from India explains the situation neatly

This explains how the local Borough Council view waste collection.

Recycling is a very important part of managing waste, it is now being taken to a new level in Brighton with the creation of Britain’s first house made entirely of rubbish. Read more here.

It is not impossible to make a living from garbage, as proven by Cairo’s Zabaleen. This article from 2005 outlines their lifestyle. But in recent years their existence has been threatened the New York Times describes why.

A certain amount of the waste from the developing world is now shipped to less developed countries to be broken down and reused or sold. However, the methods used often release harmful chemicals that threaten the health and environment. This article from the National Geographic summarises the situation in a variety of locations around the globe. By contrast EARP is a scheme established by Cambridgeshire Council to encourage the safe recycling of electrical items.

A world without waste- WRAP

Explore the WRAP website. They were set up in 2000 to help recycling take off in the UK and to create a market for recycled materials. As understanding grew that ‘waste’ is actually ‘stuff with value’ and that wasting resources made no environmental or commercial sense, governments across the UK increased efforts to tackle these issues.


16 thoughts on “Managing Waste in Urban Areas

  1. How should we solve Britain’s rubbish problem?
    This article criticises the British government for their plan to charge those households who aren’t recycling and reward those homes that do. These critics claim that the reward given is too small to make a significant difference and the fine just appears as another ‘stealth tax’, therefore they believe that this scheme will not have a large impact.

    Plans to build UK’s first building made entirely out of waste
    This is to be built in Brighton, out of waste and surplus material. The building will possess all eco-technology so that it is a completely sustainable structure. This is hopefully going to bring the community together by encouraging a wide demographic to get involved in the creation of the structure.

  2. How should we solve Britain’s Rubbish Crisis?

    The government was planning to start rewarding people when they recycle their own rubbish. However, plans have been criticized as people do not believe that giving people money to recycle will change the psychological attitudes towards people recycling.

    Cario’s devoted refuse collectors.

    Zabaleen collectors are not paid by the city authorities but do it because ‘it is in their blood’. Zabaleen’s don’t like to see rubbish, so they collect rubbish and then recycle what they can in Egypt. The Zabaleen make money from feeding the organic waste to their livestock and recycling the rest.

    • These are two really interesting contrasting examples of attitudes towards waste. Personally the idea that we should be rewarded for dealing with our own waste is the wrong way around. I imagine that if the Zabaleen were to rummage through our bins they would find many uses for the things we view as worthless.

  3. Local borough council view
    Wandsworth council encourages recycling, and sends no waste to landfill, instead taking it to an ‘energy-from-waste’ incinerator to generate electricity. They maintain order by collecting rubbish/recycling sacks weekly, free of charge, to prevent foxes scavenging. Fines of up to £2500 are enforced to prevent dumping of rubbish on public pavements.

    E-waste may be poisoning developing nations
    Increasing rates of e-waste production in areas with a growing demand for electronics (e.g. China/India/Africa/ Latin America) have led to accumulation of hazardous waste in many developing countries. It is often improperly handled, and incinerated to recover valuable metals, which releases toxic pollution. Formal management is urgently needed to reduce damage to public health and the environment.

    • Well summarised Immy, Wandsworth certainly seem to be on the right track to making waste disposal more sustainable. Who’s responsibility do you suppose it is to reduce the damage caused by e-waste that has been shipped abroad? That is something that curretly does not seem sustainable.

  4. Cairo’s devoted refuse collectors:
    The wahiya group arrived in 1900, responsible for household waste disposal. 50 years later the zabaleen group arrived giving wahiya rights to service buildings and sell collection routes to the zabaleen. Women sort out categories. Most of the new generation of zabaleen go to college and recycle electronics.

    How should we solve Britain’s rubbish problem?:
    Government plans mean English households that separate recyclable rubbish weekly will receive an annual cheque from the council; those who don’t recycle face a yearly £30 fine. A report claims the reward is too low to encourage mass recycling and penalties are seen as another ‘stealth tax’.

  5. The challenge of waste management in urban areas:

    Increasing urban populations create 7% more waste each year. Most is biodegradable but some requires more attention e.g. e-waste/chemicals. Indian government says local bodies responsible for collection/provessing etc but municipalities want a decentralised policy to reduce waste. Currently required to develop infrastructure to deal with waste but many cities lack landfill sites. Many rules concerning waste are not adhered to.

    EARP – Electrical Appliance Recycling Programme

    Peterborough residents dispose of 300,000 old electrical items per year. Project is only one in country aimed at reducing electrical waste. Have regular collections and 4 electrical banks around city. Establish condition of appliance and decide to reuse or recycle. Project encourages volunteers and trains disadvantaged people. Been running since May 2004.

    • The increase in waste is surely not sustainable but the EARP scheme does offer a solution. Reusing items that people no longer have a use for is certainly a good idea.

  6. “E-waste may be poisoning developing nations”
    Developing countries are accumulating mountainous amounts of e-waste which has serious consequences unless safe recycling is introduced. Sales of electrical products have increased in China, India and Africa. China is the second largest producer of e-waste with most being improperly handled. Waste management needs to be introduced to reduce environmental and health problems.

    “How should we solve Britain’s rubbish problem?”
    Government plans to reward households that separate out recyclable rubbish every week will receive and annual cheque and those who refuse to will face a £30 fine a year. However, it is thought that a £30 fine is not a big enough incentive to encourage people to recycle as it will just been deemed as another “stealth tax”.

    • Well explained Immy, it is strange that the government believes that cash is the only way to motivate people. I am sure that the money to encourage people to recycle would be better spent on educating people why it is important to deal with their waste efectively.

  7. Plan to build UK’s first building entirely out of waste:
    A new eco-building in Brighton aims to “show that there is no such thing as waste” by only using waste material from building sites and industry. Many locals will be able to work on the project which will take place on the University of Brighton’s campus. The building will feature the latest eco-technology e.g. solar panels, heat recovery system.

    Wandsworth household rubbish collections:
    In Wandsworth, rubbish and recycling are collected weekly. No waste is sent directly to landfill but instead goes to an energy-from-waste incinerator. The borough promotes recycling as much as possible and makes it easy for residents – though there are some rules and fines, all they have to do is leave their waste out on the right day.

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