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Clean ups, more bins not enough

With the huge amounts of waste that Zimbabwe generates on a daily basis, waste management will remain a problem for the country, until the waste starts being put to some good use.

Environment with Chipo Musara

In a desperate attempt to end the littering problem, the country has over the past year or so, been gripped by the clean-up fever. There is always some clean- up exercise going on somewhere, often characterised by scores of people armed with brooms and gloves converging ready to give back to the community.

It is almost always on a voluntary basis and it feels good to see so many people taking pride in their country, evidently eager to do away with the prevailing lacklustre state and see it go back to its previous glory.

Companies have also not missed the chance for a show of corporate social responsibility. Through a number of programmes, a number of companies have helped in getting more bins on the streets, especially in Harare. Although the capital city’s CBD is still far from getting to the recommended “a bin per every 10 metres” scenario, the situation has significantly improved.

However, the numerous clean-up campaigns and more bins on the streets have failed to end the waste management challenges currently facing Harare.
Dirt has become the order of the day, especially in areas that are characterised by more human activity, like kombi termini — Copacabana, Fourth Street, Charge Office and Market Square.

Harare only has two official dumpsites

The persistent filth is often blamed on non-collection of refuse by the responsible authorities. The authorities have blamed their non-performance to a shortage of refuse compactors, which they say they cannot purchase owing to lack of funds.

However, even if the responsible authorities were able to collect the enormous amount of garbage that lies everywhere, disposal of the waste would remain a problem.

Harare does not have sufficient dumpsites, with the Pomona and Golden Quarry dumpsites being the main waste depositories for the whole city. Because they are overburdened, there has been a rise in open burning of garbage and indiscriminate illegal dumping and littering. Burning garbage is creating another major problem — emission of greenhouse gases, exacerbating the already looming climate change and global warming threat.

Recycling: Answer to waste management problems

It would seem the answer to the persistent waste management challenge in the country is not so much in cleaning up and availing more bins, as it is in finding valuable use for all the waste being generated!
Many countries in the developed world have long realised that nothing has to be allowed to go to waste. This is the reason why the recycling industry has been doing so well in China, Japan, and the US, among others.

With the rate of unemployment in Zimbabwe, people would do well to find the recycling industry appealing.

All the used glass, metal cans, plastic, newspapers, magazines, office paper and even left over food that many struggle to dispose every day and end up discarding in all unsuitable places, can be made productive use of. For instance, used glass can be used to make house tiles, while cardboard paper can be used to make paper bags and new cardboard.
Metal cans are used to make bicycle parts, car parts, steel beams, appliances and new cans, while recycled plastic can be used to make carpets, backpacks, and sleeping bags, among a host of other products people purchase every day.
While recycling is not a new phenomenon for Zimbabwe, it is certainly not happening at a fast enough rate to make an impact on the environment. This is because there are still only just a few players that seem to have seen the value of the trade.

Environment Africa, working with different organisations, is one such company that is championing recycling as a waste management measure. They recently launched colour-coded recycling bin liners for household use and vehicle litter bags made from recycled plastic, and will soon be available countrywide.

While being the type of venture that, if done properly, guarantees monetary benefits, recycling at a large scale will help keep valuable material out of landfills, conserve natural resources and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

More players will hopefully see the value in joining the recycling industry; the environment would certainly appreciate it.

For feedback, email:
cmasara@standard.co.zw

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