An assessment of the management of garbage collection and waste disposal
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of study
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, waste is any item that is longer in use or cannot be used for any good purpose. Solid waste has been defined as any useless, unwanted or discarded material (American Public Work Association, 1975) with insufficient liquid content to be free-flowing. Solid waste is sticky and weighty in nature and therefore has the capacity of accumulating and defacing the physical environment if not well managed (Sada and Odemoerho, 1988).
Solid waste is any moveable solid object which the owner wishes to dispose if it is no longer useful to the immediate owner. Solid wastes are non-soluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to industrial wastes containing complex and sometimes hazardous substances. Man’s activities today generates tons of thousands of refuse which are seen littered everywhere causing diverse environmental problems. This calls for urgent expertise in waste management as the importance of a healthy environment for meaningful and productive work is tied to proper waste management. Waste is everybody’s business as we all generate waste in nearly everything we do. In the past, waste was considered as a resources. This was because the waste that was generated was mainly agricultural and was bio-degradable and as such disposal was not a problem as the volume product was low and these agricultural wastes helped to enrich the soil. This is not the situation today as waste is a major problem that needs to be solved as urgently as possible rather than been considered as a resource.
Over the years, studies have shown that rapid population growth and the growth of urban centres which followed the oil boom in the 1970s and industrialization came with a change in waste stream in Nigeria. This was as a result of increased use of goods to satisfy and meet the need of the teeming population resulting in the substantial increase in the amount of wastes generated. It is therefore important to note that waste generation and population growth work hand-in-hand.
In Nigerian towns and cities, solid wastes of different kinds are generated and disposed off indiscriminately causing lots of environmental and health hazards. A good example of such cities include Lagos, Kano, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Aba, Yenagoa, etc. David (1985) noted that the issue of solid waste is not only familiar but assumed a global dimension in recent years causing series of environmental problems ranging from environmental degradation to pollution and imbalance, flooding, epidemics of infectious increase and decline in urban quality.
Solid waste can be classified into two broad categories – biodegradable solid waste and non-biodegradable solid waste. Biodegradable wastes are those wastes that can be easily decomposed by natural process ranging from food remnants to leaves from trees, cotton wool, clothes, banana peels, papers, etc. On the other hand, non-biodegradable wastes are those wastes that cannot be broken down or decomposed by natural processes. They can however be recycled or reused. Such wastes include bottles, glasses, plastics, cans and wrappings of all kinds, nylon bags, metals, needles and syringes, woods, etc. Solid wastes can also be classified based on their level of environmental contamination that is whether they are hazardous or non-hazardous to both man and the environment.
The sources from which wastes are generated ranges from municipal (street sweeping, sewage treatment plants, schools etc) to residential (flood wastes, plastics, vehicles, wood, glass etc), industrial (demolition materials, ashes etc) agricultural sources (spoiled food waste, pesticides, etc).
Solid waste disposal can be carried out using several options but before any of these options can be adopted, three vital factors should be considered. Firstly, the physical characteristics of the locality as regards the topography of the area where waste management activities are to be carried out because waste disposal often requires a large parcel of land for an efficient operation especially of sanitary landfill is to be adopted; secondly, the character, quality and quantity of waste to be disposed of. The quantity and nature of household refuse varies greatly from region to region and thirdly, the financial allocation available as adequate budget any allocation must be available for capital outlay and running cost. Various waste management authorities requires different types of extensive refuse vehicles that cost a lot to maintain at the commencement of the operations and these vehicles do not often remain serviceable for long due to poor operation, maintenance and non-availability of spare parts.
Solid waste disposal in the final placement, destruction of radioactive surplus, banned pesticides and chemicals, polluted soils and drums containing hazardous materials using approved methods. Several methods exist for the disposal of solid wastes and these range from open dumping to ocean/sea dumping, sanitary land filling composting, incineration, encapsulation, underground disposal and a more systematic method of waste management that includes recycling, reuse, recovery, segregation and reduction.
Waste management is the collection, transport, processing or disposal, managing and monitoring of waste materials. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity and the process is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health, the environmental or aesthetics.
This research work focuses mainly on the management strategies of solid waste using the waste generated in the University of Calabar (UNICAL) as a case study. Solid waste in the institution and its management can be said to be as old as the institution itself since its birth in 1975. Waste management in the institution started in 1975 under the health and with 8 staffs. In 1995, it was made a unit and named the “Environmental Sanitation and Protection Unit” with a staff strength of over 64 persons. A present, the unit has a staff strength of over 200 persons, 9 supervisors and 1 unit head. The management practice in place in the University of Calabar is daily collection and disposal with waste bins being posted at strategic points across the main campus, library, hostel and staff quarter areas. These bins are being emptied and disposed off when they become full.
Wastes do not only threaten the beauty and aesthetics of the institution but also the very health of its inhabitants. The intention of this research is to examine the strategies that are adopted in the management of solid waste in the University of Calabar.
1.2 Statement of the problem
One of the major problems man faces today is that of solid waste disposal and management as waste is seen littered and scattered everywhere defacing the physical environment. Nobody likes to think of waste but the fact remains that solid waste is a pressing concern of our modern society. Over the years, the amount of the waste generated has grown steadily in part because of increasing population and more so because of changing life-styles and the increasing use of disposal materials. The challenges posed by this waste is that it is generated at a pace much faster than available means to manage it. The increasing rate at which waste is generated is 70% as compared to 30% of effective management and disposal methods. The problem of waste management in the University of Calabar is worsened by the ever-increasing population in the institution which results in an increase in the use of writing papers, pens and other materials.
The smell of offensive odours cannot be taken for granted. This problem is further compounded by hawkers who dump their waste indiscriminately everywhere. The indiscriminate littering of solid waste in our campus has reached an alarming rate. Evidence shows that the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste has a multiplicity effect on the environment. This greatly degrades the environment of its aesthetics and even causes diseases. The increased use of disposable plastics, cups and polythene materials for packaging goods have given rise to new waste disposal problems. Some of these materials are non-biodegradable and when burnt gives rise to air pollution.
The rapid growth of population in the University as people go in pursuit of higher/learning and exposure for a better tomorrow is posing a serious problem as regards waste generation. Dumping of refuse along street corners around the campus and their nearness to hostels, offices, lecture rooms and halls and the time lag in evacuating them constitutes another serious environmental health hazard in the study area. These refuse dumps serve as home for vermins such as flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches and other vectors of infectious disease.
One of the greatest problems facing humanity today is that of waste management. In all cities and rural areas, waste disposed poses the greatest environmental problem. The rate in which waste is generated, surpasses the rate at which it is evacuated. Upon this premises, one tends to wonder what could actually be responsible for this environmentally unfriendly character. Is it the orientation or the psychology of the people lack of central waste dumps or is it a deliberate attempt of polluting the environment or perhaps the various authorities responsible for waste disposal cannot cope with the volume of waste been generated.
Another problem of solid waste management is the diversity of the waste being generated which results in a variety of potential health and welfare effects, the treatment of which is complicated by the fact that each type of waste often demands specific and yet different methods of disposal and management. Waste is an age-mate of mankind and part of the normal working system of man’s activity on the face of the earth. Though it is an integral constituent of all human activity, its presence today is becoming unbearable causing serious problems in the environment. Waste in ancient times was biodegradable and non-toxic and could hardly cause hazards. Today, copious waste generation pollutes many quarters even in rural areas. Every facet of man’s endeavour now face the danger of reckless thro-away; he wastes food, clothes, money, time, shoes, utensils, furniture, paper, machines, metals etc. It has now come to a point where solid waste stands face to face and side by side with man. The reason is man’s technology to master and conquer his world (environm