Waste volume in Dhaka city increased by 25 per cent in 2016-17 fiscal than the previous year, causing alarm for urban planners and waste management officials.
Both the landfills for dumping city wastes — at Amin Bazar and Matuail — are almost filled up as the two city corporations usually dump 5,000 tonne waste there every day.
Urban planners and experts blame the government and local government authorities for the rise in waste volume as they are yet to implement the National 3R Strategy for Waste Management even after eight years of its formulation. The ‘3R’ indicates reduce, reuse and recycle.
Officials of Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation said that they were yet to develop capacity for implementing the 3R strategy formulated by the Department of Environment in 2010. They blamed it on a lack of coordination among government agencies as well as a lack of commitment to implement it.
The officials said that they were now fighting to manage the increased waste volume by dumping into landfills, instead of recycling or reusing, in absence of any initiative for reducing the volume.
Experts criticised the process of waste management of the city corporations because they were treating any dotted object as waste without considering their further uses.
Waste Concern co-founder Abu Hasnat Md Maqsood Sinha told New Age, ‘Every part and parcel of the materials dumped into the landfills is valuable.’ The agencies dumped valuables, he observed, as they did not know their use or could not process them accordingly.
He said that the government agencies were handling all types of wastes — medical, electronic and electrical, domestic, construction, organic and inorganic — in the same way.
According to his estimates, daily 26,000 tonne wastes are being generated in cities and towns across the country, of which 80 per cent are organic waste. ‘All the wastes can be reused or recycled,’ he said, ‘bio-gas, solid fuel, fertiliser and others can be produced from organic waste while inorganic waste can be reused after recycling them.’
DNCC chief waste management officer Air Commodore MA Razzak said that they ‘burn waste to reduce its volume, but have no capacity’ for recycling or reusing as mentioned in 3R strategy.
Quoting a yearly waste report, Razzak said that the DNCC had collected 8.52 lakh tonne solid wastes in 2016-17 fiscal, while the volume was 6.83 lakh tonne in 2015-16, indicating an increasing of 24.77 per cent in 2016-17. He added that the DNCC spent Tk 800 for managing each tonne waste.
DSCC chief waste management officer Air Commodore Shafiqul Alam said that the waste volume in DSCC area also increased by 25 per cent last year. He lamented that the city corporation had no ‘reduce, recycle or reuse’ mechanism of waste but they were planning to generate energy from wastes.
‘Implementation of the 3R strategy depends of high-level decisions,’ he said.
DoE director Subol Bosh Moni, also director of a 3R project, told New Age that they were campaigning to raise public awareness about waste reduction but were yet to take any action against producers of consumer goods. ‘We are working with DNCC, DSCC and Chittagong City Corporation for building one compost plant for each city corporation,’ said Subol.
DoE deputy director Abul Kalam Azad, also director of another 3R project, said that they were piloting the ‘programmatic CDM project using municipal organic waste of towns to make fertilizer from organic wastes, instead of dumping them.
He said that the department had decided not to give environmental clearance anymore to any industry until it implemented 3R strategy. They were also facilitating non-government organisations to come forward for managing wastes, he added.
Bangladesh Institute of Planners general secretary Akter Mahmud said that formal sector involvement with informal sector was needed for waste management.
He stressed public engagement for source separation of wastes as mixed waste management was difficult.
Urban planners had said that goods-producing companies should be brought under extended producer responsibility for effective waste management as they were generating huge wastes, often avoidable, to make their products look attractive to consumers.
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