Blog Post: Why is Waste Management Challenging in Developing Countries?

There is a stark difference in how developing countries manage their waste as compared to the developed countries. The developing countries face more challenges and several limitations shrink the possibilities of how they can manage their waste in an efficient manner. Factors that influence waste management and various techniques that can be employed to ensure that the waste in treated in the right manner.

Various Waste Management Constraints

  • Technical Constraints

The waste management sector requires solid technical expertise, knowledge and support, which is visibly absent in numerous developing countries. They also lack the human resources that have enough experience to handle waste efficiently. There are limited opportunities for one to learn about waste management in educational institutes or through on-job training programs. Because of these constraints, developing countries take the support of technologies that are available in the donor countries, which doesn’t necessarily help as the equipment and facilities that are provided as foreign aid may be irrelevant, incompatible, outdated or obsolete in the recipient country. 

  • Financial Constraints

Developing countries do not consist of many agencies that have the necessary financial support to carry out effective waste management as compared to those in developed countries. Unfortunately, solid waste management is not considered a priority and limited funds are allocated to it. Additionally, it doesn't generate revenues easily as the ability to pay for various tasks of waste management are quite low. Loans are also not given easily as there is a high risk.

  • Economic Constraints

It depends on the economic situation of the donor country and how much foreign aid it can allocate to the developing countries. This determines the levels of resources provided to solid waste collaborative projects. When developing countries take the support of external agencies, there will be some bias in how the facilities, equipment and consultants are selected for collaborative projects of solid waste management. Another limitation is that the solid waste equipment is usually provided from the donor agency’s point of view rather than understanding what the recipient country actually needs. This develops a gap between the technology used in the developing countries and the technological needs of the donor country.

  • Social Constraints

Both the developed and developing countries face certain cultural and social restrictions regarding waste which directly affects the waste management systems. There are certain norms in society that allow only a certain social group or social class of people to handle and deal with waste. This limits the size of the work force for solid waste collection and disposal. Numerous countries prohibit the direct handling of human waste and co-composting of refuse and human waste. These social constraints limit waste management in an efficient manner.

Factors Influencing Waste Management

  • Composition and Amount of Waste

The composition of the generated waste and its amount directly influences how it can be managed. Developing countries mostly produce inert waste such as dust, sand, stones, etc., and high moisture levels due to the high usage of fresh fruit and vegetables. All this results in high-density waste, which makes it inefficient to employ systems used by industrial countries as they operate well with low-density wastes only. Additionally, when the high weight is combined with the corrosiveness caused by the water content and abrasiveness of the sand, the equipment will deteriorate quickly. Incineration isn’t suitable for waste containing high moisture and the recycling typically reduces the proportion of combustible paper and plastic in waste before it reaches the treatment stage.

  • Accessibility for Waste Collection

If the waste is inaccessible by certain modes of transportations, either due to the slope of the area, its surface, width or congestion of the location, waste collection will be affected. If the options are limited to just roads and alleys, then you won’t be able to collect waste properly. Truck scales and weighing scales must be used during the process of waste collection to keep track how much waste is collected from different areas.

  • Level of Public Awareness

When the public is made aware of how waste management can start from their homes first, it will greatly help the overall waste management system. You must first make them aware of various waste management techniques (discussed later in the article) and make an effort to change their attitude towards waste management. It goes without saying that the participation, attitude, and awareness of the public is a key element in determining if the waste management system of the country succeeds or fails.

  • Legislation and Regulations

Different government policies and regulations dictate how waste management is conducted in any country. Certain restrictions and standards lessen the technology options as well.

Different Waste Management Methods

Segregation: The waste must be segregated properly into compostable organic waste, recyclable materials, non-hazardous and hazardous solid waste, dry and wet waste etc. This helps in managing each type of waste in an efficient manner. You must use truck scales to weigh and move waste from one location to the next.
Landfill: It is one of the most popular ways of managing waste and comprises of burying the waste in the land. To ensure that landfill management is carried out in the right manner, you must only send waste that cannot be composted or recycled. You can employ techniques that minimize or eliminate the dangers and the odor of waste before it is put into the ground.
Recycling: Waste management recycling helps in turning the waste into products that can be used again. You must understand what can be recycled and which resources can be recovered from the waste. This will help you in significantly reducing the amount of the generated waste and have a positive impact on the environment as well.
Composting: This method comprises of turning waste, particularly from food products, into organic compounds that can be used to fertilize and feed the plants. It is quite easy and can be done by anyone. Furthermore, you can even turn unsafe organic products into safe compost.
It is true that there are quite a few challenges when it comes to waste management in developing countries but it isn’t an impossible task. By developing a healthy attitude towards waste management, you can close the gap between various challenges and achieve an environment that promotes efficiency and opportunities.
Author Bio:

Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, California. He enjoys everything mechanical and electronic, computers, the internet and spending time with family.