Mauritius is a small island and due to land scarcity, it can neither have many landfills nor have all its wastes recycled. But it should be noted that incineration is not the ideal solution to this problem; it will rather encourage more wastes to be produced. First of all the Government should try to implement a zero waste policy. The use of plastics bags should be forbidden. Sorting of wastes should be encouraged to be done at home or onsite itself (plastics/organic/metals). Electronic gadgets should be made in such a way that they can be processed for parts that can be recycled and the toxic elements disposed of in the proper way and not burnt. If some of the steps are implemented, there will be nothing to get incinerated or a minimum amount of wastes would be burnt.
Therefore, the followings are some of the proposed ideas towards sustainable municipal solid waste management:
Policy planning and Strategy
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Solid waste management plans
First of all there should be solid waste management plans in place. Waste management plans have essential roles to play towards sustainable waste management. Their primary purpose is to provide an outline of sources of wastes and treatment options. Waste management plans, national as well as local/regional are essential tools helping in the implementation and achievement of policies and targets that have been set up. Furthermore, the plans give an outline of the amount of wastes to be managed. Also, they contribute to ensuring that the capacity and the way of collection and treatment systems are coherent with the waste to be managed. The plans also identify areas in which technological measures should be taken to get rid of or minimize certain types of waste. Moreover, waste management plans make way for a statement of financial requirements for the operation of collection schemes and treatment of waste among others. On this basis, the needs for further investments in waste treatment plans may be determined. As a solution to many waste management problems, the involvement of several participants/authorities are required and coherent planning helps to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort and thus benefits all participants, (EU Commission, Environment, 2003).
The aim of this policy should be geared towards a sustainable economy. The purpose is to minimize consumption to a reasonable extent by using design-for-environment in every product and their packaging, and to make them all recyclable. The determining factors to achieve Zero Waste are the productsâ€™ designs and industrial processes, that is, their components should be made in such a way that they can be dismantled, repaired and/or recycled. Zero Waste implies merging communities, businesses and industries such that one's waste becomes anotherâ€™s feedstock, which results in preventing pollution at its source. Implementing Zero waste will get rid of all discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the planetary, human, animal or plant health, (Recycling Council of British Columbia, 2009).
Management of Municipal Solid Waste
Waste minimization is considered as a waste management approach that emphasizes on decreasing the amount and toxicity of hazardous waste that is generated. It is believed that waste minimization methods that focus on avoiding waste from ever being created, (source reduction) and recycling is encouraged. There are three general methods of waste minimization: source reduction, recycling, and treatment, (Scott.W.D, 2005). Waste minimization can be achieved by reusing materials. In doing so, materials which were bound to become waste can be used again and there will be no need for recycling, combustion for energy purpose and disposal of waste materials to landfill. This can lead to a reduction in waste management costs. However this can effectively be done by planning, fabricating, buying, or making use of materials in a way that reduce the amount of trash created, less waste is created and fewer natural resources are used.
Waste sorting should be done at home and this can be achieved by the help of the local authorities, in the sense that, the three bins system should be implemented and there should be continual training and education awareness programmes. People should be taught how to use this system effectively and the reason behind using it. The three bins can either be coloured differently or labelled in order to facilitate the users to dispose their wastes in the corrective way. Waste sorting helps in achieving a sustainable environment, in the sense that recyclable wastes will be disposed separately and thus can be sent directly to the recycling industries and other wastes can be processed accordingly. This will save time and cost of labour also.
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Composting is the decomposition of organic matter by microorganism in warm, moist, aerobic and anaerobic environment. There are different ways to do composting. It varies from simple and cheap backyard or onsite composting methods to more costly and sophisticated methods such as in-vessel composting. For materials such as food garbage, vegetables garbage and other materials which are degradable, adoption of proven technologies for processing such waste as backyard composting can be used; as this can reduce the amount of waste destined for disposal. Inhabitants can then sell the compost to nearby farmers and other users. Government should favor and stimulate the development and acceptance of appropriate technologies for the conversion of municipal solid waste to compost and promote markets for its use as a soil amendment. It can also be noted that inhabitant can use the soil conditioner obtained from composting to grow their own vegetables and crops. This is a good path towards sustainability and it demands patience and cooperation. However this project may take time to develop in Mauritius because there is lack of willingness on the part of communities, local authorities and other parties such as the informal sector and the formal waste collector. health,
To achieve a sustainable waste management, the Government must take actions against those who by-pass the law by throwing wastes haphazardly. The â€˜pay- as -you -throwâ€™ program should be put in place and the local authorities must ensure that the legal duty to abide by this particular program is imposed on all people in the country, including tourists.
Education and awareness
There should be a continuous awareness programme in place, so that every person gets well accustomed to the new techniques of municipal solid waste management. There should also be public education so that people are not only made aware of the new techniques, but also that they can understand the reasons behind managing municipal solid wastes sustainably. The public should know and understand the importance of sustainable development.