In his first monthly column in the CIWM Journal as CIWM President, Professor David C. Wilson has revisited his Presidential address. His overall theme for the year is solid waste management as a key utility service, underpinning modern society. Within that three strands are to avoid complacency when it comes to protecting public health and the environment; the continuing move from the linear ‘make – use – dispose’ model to a more circular economy; and the global waste crisis, with more than 3 billion people lacking access to a basic solid waste management service.
DCW writes: ‘“Let us work together to promote the fact that solid waste management is one of the essential utility services underpinning our society. Let us ensure that the regular, daily delivery of that service to protect public health and the environment is not undermined, either by on-going cuts in local authority spending or by deregulation following Brexit”. And again: “It is simply unacceptable that 40% of the World’s population lack this basic utility service that we take for granted. We need to ensure that waste collection is extended to all people, and that uncontrolled dumping and open burning is eliminated.”
DCW’s CIWM Presidential Report 2017 prepared by WasteAid UK
Professor David C Wilson giving his inauguration speech as CIWM President 2017-18
At his inauguration on 17th October 2017, Professor David C. Wilson launched his CIWM Presidential Report: Making Waste Work: A Toolkit – Community Waste Management in Low and Middle Income Countries. The aim is to help poor communities in the least developed countries, part of the 40% of the World’s population who lack access to any solid waste management services, to help themselves by developing self-sustaining businesses making useful products for the local market from the resource value in their waste. WasteAid UK have prepared this practical guidance on low cost recycling technologies, involving minimal capital investment, to help people become self-employed recycling entrepreneurs, providing a very valuable service for the health and well-being of their community, and the whole planet – as well as reducing poverty and creating sustainable livelihoods.
In his inauguration speech, DCW called on the international community to increase substantially, from the current 0/3% to 3.0%, the proportion of Official Development Assistance directed to solving the ‘global waste emergency’. But he also said that it was not enough to work with national and local governments to solve the problem from the ‘top down’. In parallel, it is necessary to work from the ‘bottom up’, helping communities in the poorest countries, where the local authority often has no funds to provide a service, to tackle the problem themselves through the resource value in the wastes. If, for example, food wastes or plastics are kept separate, they can be turned into new, useful products. One of the gaps identified by UNEP’s Global Waste Management Outlook ( GWMO – for which DCW was the lead author) was for practical guidance on low-cost ‘waste to wealth’ technologies which involve minimal capital investment and make products to sell in a local market.
Making Waste Work: A Toolkit has been developed by WasteAid UK to fill that gap, providing accessible and well-illustrated guidance designed for use by local practitioners. An early draft of the report was field tested at a pan-African workshop in The Gambia. Volume 1 covers part A, Be informed: Community waste management essentials, and part B, Be prepared: How do I make a waste project happen? Volume 2 covers part C, Be inspired: Step-by-step guides, which include measuring what is in your waste, five technologies for recovering value from organic wastes, four focusing on plastic wastes, plus waste collection and safe disposal of the residual wastes. There is also a short Executive Summary. The links above are to the three reports on the CIWM website; the dedicated WasteAid Toolkit homepage gives access to all the material, including the individual How-to guides, in separate user friendly formats designed for mobile devices and for laptops/ desktops.
Ljiljana Rodic and David C Wilson’s paper in the peer-reviewed open access journal Sustainability was published today: Resolving Governance Issues to Achieve Priority Sustainable Development Goals Related to Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries. As a key utility service that more than 2 billion people are currently lacking, solid waste management (SWM) is a crosscutting issue that can be directly linked to 12 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Distinguishing between physical components and governance aspects of SWM, this research focuses on governance issues concerning basic solid waste collection services and controlled disposal, thus addressing the ‘How’ and the ‘Who’ dimensions of a SWM system.
As a form of transdisciplinary research, the findings from the literature on governance issues in SWM were iteratively subjected to several rounds of commentary by a large group of stakeholders from six continents, within the authors’ work for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s 2015 Global Waste Management Outlook. The study identifies a combination of complementary instruments required for extending collection to all and bringing disposal under control. While municipalities have a legal responsibility for providing services to their citizens, various service providers can contribute to an effective SWM system. Appropriate forms of funding are essential to secure financial sustainability of the services under the local conditions of affordability and willingness to pay. As new services require behavioural change on the part of citizens and municipal waste departments alike, communication and exchange with other stakeholders function as enabling and supporting factors. The significance of capacity development is highlighted.
Professor David C Wilson was installed as Senior Vice President of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management on 18 October 2016. CIWM has now commissioned WasteAid UK to undertake his Presidential project, which will prepare guidance on low-cost reuse and recycling technologies for use in low- and middle- income countries. This was one of the recommendations for follow-up work coming out of the 2015 UNEP Global Waste Management Outlook, for which DCW was the Editor-in-Chief.
Further information is available in a joint CIWM and Wasteaid UK press release issued today. Professor Wilson said: “More than two billion people worldwide do not have a waste collection service, which results in severe public health problems – through children playing amongst waste, blocked drains, infectious diseases and inhalation of smoke from open burning. Even when waste is collected, uncontrolled dumping is the norm – the waste of some 3 billion people isn’t disposed of safely.
“Many cities in Africa and Asia are growing so rapidly that in 15-20 years’ time they will be generating twice as much waste as they do today. Already struggling with the waste crisis, these cities desperately need targeted support from the international community. In the meantime, sustainable and self-financing community-led solutions can make immediate improvements, hence the focus of this research.”
WasteAid UK delivers training in community waste management in low- and middle-income countries. In its first year the charity has worked in the Gambia, Senegal, Ghana and Kenya, setting up community recycling facilities and positively impacting the lives of some 124,000 people.
Mike Webster of WasteAid UK said: “This guidance, funded by CIWM, will enable us to help thousands of communities around the world to improve the way they manage their waste. It will show people how to treat different materials to maximise their value and minimise risks to human health and the environment.” DCW is Patron of Wasteaid UK.
The 2016 World Population Data Sheet focuses on human needs and sustainable resources, and features a map comparing municipal solid waste generation and management in cities around the world. For reliable and comparable data, the US think tank Population Resources Bureau (PRB) turned to the Wasteaware benchmark indicators. The map features 18 cities selected from the current database of 40 cities prepared and collated by Professor David C Wilson and colleagues.
The World Population Data Sheet (WPDS) is an authoritative resource prepared annually by the long-established PRB, and widely used across the World. This year’s special focus, ‘Human Needs, Sustainable Resources’, is the subject of an online Insights feature. The inclusion of MSWM recognises it is an essential utility service to protect public health and both the local and global environment. The map highlights that waste quantities rise with the income level of the country. For each of the 18 cities, data is also shown for the Wasteaware benchmark indicators for public health (% collection coverage), environmental protection (% of collected waste properly disposed) and resource management (%recycled). The Wasteaware indicators provide a reliable comparison of the performance of a city’s MSWM system; the database for 40 cities has been prepared and collated By Professor David C Wilson (Imperial College London), Dr Ljiljana Rodic (Independent Consultant, Leiden, Netherlands) and Dr Costas Velis (University of Leeds). The WPDS may be downloaded as a pdf, and a data visualisation tool and teaching resources are also available.
The informal recycling sector makes an important and often undervalued contribution to solid waste management in many developing countries. They sit at the base of what is often now a global supply chain for recycled materials, and like other primary producers could benefit from initiatives to add value to the materials they collect. Professor David C Wilson’s team at Imperial College London have just published a new tool, based on Value Chain Analysis (VCA) as developed to improve the livelihood of poor farmers in Africa, using the iconic Zabaleen recyclers in Cairo as the demonstration case. VCA provides a significant and powerful addition to the analytical tools available for improving the position of the informal recycling sector. The paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, can be downloaded free-of-charge until 17 September 2016.
The informal recycling sector can achieve recycling rates of 20-40%, significantly reducing the burden falling on the city for managing the remaining solid waste. However, there are serious issues of poor working conditions, child labour and uncontrolled dumping of residual wastes. Considerable efforts have been put into integrating the informal recyclers into a city’s formal solid waste management system, to everyone’s benefit: the recyclers can work under cleaner conditions, earn a better livelihood and educate their children; recycling rates can potentially increase; and the transition can facilitate environmental control, as well as bringing the ‘informal’ sector inside the legal and tax systems. DCW has been actively researching this area for more than 10 years; his 2006 review has more than 180 citations, while a 2012 paper developed the InteRa framework and tool for use in designing interventions for informal sector integration. He first researched the potential for adapting Value Chain Analysis (VCA) for use in this sector in 2009 with Dr Sanjay Gupta in India, and was delighted to have the opportunity in summer 2015 to carry out fieldwork with the GIZ National Solid Waste Management Programme project team in Egypt on this paper. The lead author is Remi Jaligot, then a Masters student at Imperial College London, and the other co-authors are Prof Chris Cheeseman of Imperial and Berti Shaker and Joachim Stretz of GIZ Egypt.