Waste is any materials unused and rejected as worthless or unwanted. It is a natural circumstance of an environmental life cycle when any organism return substances to the environment. There is a natural process in this world where living things take in raw materials and excrete waste that are recycled by other living organisms. It was the secret with our ancestors who didn’t leave a single brood that cannot bring back to the environment. Because they had not any man made toxic or non-degradable elements in their traditional life cycle to be released to the nature. But in the todays’ context the situation has changed quite a lot. A visit to any Colombo sub area will reveal aspects of the waste-management problem such as heaps of uncontrolled garbage, roadsides littered with refuse, streams blocked with junk, disposal sites constituting a health hazard to residential areas, and inappropriately disposed toxic wastes. Human beings are producing an additional flow of material and residues that is beyond the assimilative capacity of natural recycling process. At the end of the scenario this adds up to a big trouble for the environment as well as to the society. Many other developing countries Waste management has been identified as one of the main environmental issues in Sri Lanka which has given rise to many severe environmental problems such as ground water contamination, air pollution1 disruption of valuable ecosystems and wetlands and decreased property values. But unsurprisingly, as people are not being sensitive to the environmental problems they have made revenge is taking back with human and physical loses. Most compelling evidence emerged at the dawn of the last New Year, tragedy struck the communities living under the rubbish heap at the Meethotamulla with a death toll of 30 with search still underway realizing the after effects of bad waste disposal practices.
Waste Management refers to the way these wastes are handled, stored, collected and disposed of, which can pose risks to the environment and to public health. (Zurbrügg , 2002). According to the existing literature human beings are generating waste products faster than nature break them down and in the sometimes using up resources faster than they can be replaced. Previous studies have suggested that Rapid industrialization, Urbanization, changing waste composition, and generation rates are identified as the main causes of making waste management more complicated. (P, S, K, & A, 2007) (Dhokhikah & Trihadiningrum , 2012 ).
At the end of the day we have to find the ways to meet the proper and smooth Waste Management system without compromising the protection of our environment. Literature suggest that “Sustainability” or the intelligent use of natural and technological resources to meet community needs ensure both today and the future. Here proactive engagement of individuals in Sustainable waste management practices is much more important to reap greater environmental and community benefits at the house hold level. Each individual has a role in building a sustainable future.
Indeed many environmentalists assume that there will be an inevitable shift from our ‘Throwaway’ society to a postindustrial ‘Reduce’, ‘Reuse’ and ‘Recycling’ society in the future with 3R concept. If every person get involved we can have a powerful effect on the environment in a positive way.
As in any case challenges can be found in waste management too. The political challenge, technological challenge, challenge of perception and education are the bounded challenges in waste management as identified by (P, S, K, & A, 2007).
Present and future ways to manage waste needs considerations on the following points.
Public awareness and attitude plays as a promising way for better waste management practices. Public awareness and attitudes towards waste can affect the population’s willingness to cooperate and participate in adequate waste management practices. Participation of the population in waste management practices can be accelerated by involving the younger generation in Environmental Pioneer Brigade Programme in Sri Lanka where children are made aware of environmental problems, are shown how to manage the problems, or how to be preventative so that the problems do not occur (Zurbrügg , 2002) as they are the future of the country.
Wise buying is something that can be done at the individual level. Buy only the essentials is something better for pocket as well to the earth. In the decision of purchase, every individuals Opt for ‘recyclable’ product can make a confusion among the producers to go for recyclable products. Stop using plastic is not possible with present conditions but a reduction of it will not be an impossible thing. Use of cloth bags instead of polythene would make a huge reduction in lunch time waste. Give away the excess is another practice to avoid unnecessary waste disposal.
In the wake of the tragic event in Meethotamulla most of the Sri Lankan local government authorities adhere waste segregation process where more participation at sorting of waste is expected even with the expectation that someone else takes the responsibility for processing them. Because it is not a hard effort to be taken at the societal level.
Beyond that Composting is an excellent method of recycling biodegradable waste from an ecological point of view.it is proven in Sri Lankan context that elect of people to actively carry composting at the domestic level with the use of Compost bins with 7.8% people at the national level.
At the national level only 20% of households rely on local authorities for solid waste disposal, while nearly half (47%) of occupants burn their own solid waste. Another 23% dispose within their own premises, while only 7.8 % resort to composting of solid waste as mentioned above. Which emphasize that absence of garbage from their neighborhood offers many benefits to those who consume the services of waste disposal. However, unfortunately for another group, like the victims and other residents of Meethotamulla, solid waste disposal by the local governments results in negative externalities. Many governments now acknowledge the dangers to the environment and to public health derived from uncontrolled waste dumping (Zurbrügg , 2002). So as an individual there is a responsibility to acknowledge the government about those practices even with a petition.
So realizing the best practices is important and sharing it with the community will choose to protect, and restore the environment as a whole.
Chief Seattle ones said,
“If you contaminate your bed you will one night suffocate in your own waste”.
Dhokhikah, Y., & Trihadiningrum , Y. (2012 ). Solid Waste Management in Asian Developing Countries: Challenges and Opportunities. Journal of Applied Environmental and Biological Sciences .
P, A., S, F. H., K, K. M., & A, A. N. (2007). Sustainable Waste Management-Asian Perspectives.
Proceedings of the International Conference on Sustainable Solid Waste Management.
Zurbrügg , C. (2002). Urban Solid Waste Management in Low-Income Countries of Asia How to Cope with the Garbage Crisis.
University of Sri Jayewardenepura