Recycling of ever increasing urban waste has become a priority for sustainable environmental management and planning activities in both developed and developing countries. According to estimate, the total generation of municipal solid waste is expected to reach around 2.2 billion tons per annum globally by 2025.
Waste generation has a strong linkage to production and consumption patterns in our society. For example, in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, more than 400 tons of solid waste is generated daily, out of which thirty percent is collected. Other major commercial centres in the state, such as Onitsha, Ekwulobia and Nnewi, generate huge tons of waste daily.
Most of the wastes are generated by households, and, in some cases, by institutions, corporate organizations, local factories, artisans and traders, which litter the immediate environment. Improper collection and disposal of waste result in water pollution, drainage blockage, flooding and infrastructural degradation.
Furthermore, indiscriminate dumping of waste poses health risk, as it serves as safe haven to those who throw away new born and dead babies, thereby creating a breeding ground for disease-causing agents to thrive.
The Anambra State Government, on its part, is doing all it could to evacuate the waste and keep the environment clean by procuring modern waste handling and evacuation equipment and ensuring proper disposal of refuse.
Though stakeholders are expected to pay annual sanitation levy, but only about ten percent pay it. Even the palpable amount paid by residents and corporate bodies alike is in no way commensurate with the amount deployed to waste disposal and evacuation in the state. However, it is no longer fashionable the world over to evacuate and dispose wastes, which can be recycled to produce different bye products.
For example, Germany has the highest recycling rate in the world, with 56.1% of all wastes it produced last year being recycled. Germany is followed by Austria with 55%, South Korea – 54%, Wales – 52 and Switzerland – 50%. Different bye products can be recycled from the waste products. For instance, paper products such as newspapers, magazines, cardboard sheets, paper packets of all sorts etcetera are made from paper waste, while metal cans, bike and motor parts, steel beams are made from discarded steels.
More so, aluminum cans are recycled from aluminum can waste, while bottles are made from broken bottles and glasses. Other products recycled from garbage include plastic waste, tires, textiles, batteries and electronics. The composting and other reuse of biodegradable waste – such as food garden waste – is also a form of recycling.
In the marvelous design of the universe, not even a sparrow can fall to earth meaninglessly; and if money doesn’t grow on trees, then why do banks have branches? Recycling is a promising sub sector where youth millionaires could be created, if given the enabling environment.
Government should therefore mount intensive training programmes for youths who are committed to entrepreneurship on recycling, while at the end of their training, machineries, which can be fabricated locally, should be procured and running cost advanced to them to commence production; but not without supervision from the parent Ministry.
Curriculum of both the Basic and Post Primary Education should be reviewed to include the teaching and learning of recycling. On graduation from the intensive programme, they should form Cooperatives, with beats or evacuation sites allotted to each Cooperative.
By so doing, government would have impacted on the youth and indeed everyone, the culture of cleanliness and at the same time save cost, generate employment as well as create wealth from waste.
WRITTEN BY FIDELIS NWAKWESILI