|The Extent of the Problem
- Waste generation and the management of it is fast becoming a global
- According to a recent United Nations report:
Waste generation in the developed world is now approximately five to
six times higher than in the developing world.
In the developing world, waste production is expected to double
during the next decade.
By 2025, it is estimated that there will be a five-fold increase in
global waste generation.
Roughly 30 to 40 percent of local authorities budgets in
developing world cities are consumed by the provision of waste management services.
Despite this enormous financial outlay though, most cities are unable to keep pace with
the growing demand.
The greatest impacts are felt on the urban poor, with people in
informal settlements suffering a lowering of their quality of life, an increased burden of
health care due to waste-related diseases, and the pollution of urban water resources.
- Per capita waste generation in the developed world has increased
threefold over the past 20 years.
Paul Harrison in his book the The Third Revolution: Population,
Environment and a Sustainable World describes the situation more graphically:
Over the average lifetime of sixty-three years, a typical Third World
city dweller will confer to the earth 149 times their bodyweight in combined municipal and
But this is modest compared to a typical European. After their
allotted sixty-six years, they will bequeath 971 times their own bodyweight in debris to
the biosphere. Piled into a cube this would measure eight metres tall and square
equal to the volume of the average small starter house.
Towering over the rest will be the memorial left by present day North
Americans. Each one will endow the globe with a vast mausoleum of litter 3900 times their
own wieght. This would form a cube more than fourteen metres on each side.
According to Luis Diaz, one of the speakers who will be
presenting a paper at the upcoming GLOBE conference, " In order to provide
sustainable solutions to solid waste management issues, professionals should also deal
with a number of non-technical aspects. Some of the most important ones are: development
of a sound, achievable and reliable national policy; preparation and implementation of
adequate institutional arrangements; issuance and enforcement of appropriate and modern
regulations; and motivation and training of human resources."
"Solid waste management is a complicated process that not only
requires the proper selection and application of approaches for the storage, collection,
transport, transfer, processing and final disposal of the material, but also depends upon
the close cooperation between the users, the private sector, and governmental and
The GLOBE Southern Africa Conference on Integrated Solid Waste
Management is an attempt to bring together just such actors in a regional forum that
allows for a stimulating exchange of ideas in tackling the sub-continents pressing
waste management problems. Divided into four sessions of four speakers each it will
present the ideas of parliamentarians, academics, NGOs, waste practitioners,
government departments and private sector interests. Legislators from all over Southern
Africa will be attending this event with the objective of formulating integrated waste
management strategies and policies.
||The South African Context
Developing Countries, such as South Africa, have dynamic and complex
environmental problems because of their unique political, social, environmental, economic
and technical circumstances. Even within individual countries the challenges to waste
management are so diverse that problems cannot be solved by merely scaling up or
transplanting existing levels of services; even if these seem succesful in their existing
contexts. New strategies are required to handle the dynamics of rapid urbanisation.
The development of a waste management policy for South Africa must
relate to the countrys economy, ie. Its economic wealth in terms of resources, the
quality of life enjoyed by its people and its potential for industrial growth. South
Africas growth is expected to take place in the urban areas and rapid urbanisation
will place heavy demands on resources in particular the allocation of funds to services as
menial as waste management. If the required economic growth rate is achieved industrial
activity will grow to meet demand, standards of living will rise and more waste will have
to be managed. The challenge for waste management in South Africa is to manage the
situation with all its constraints and opportunities in such a way that the environment is
not threatened unnecessarily.
Ray Lombard Head of the National Recycling Forum of South