Exchanging Information on Waste Management in Asia and Europe

Exchanging Information on Waste Management in Asia and Europe
12/09/2016

During the recent DELGOSEA workshop in Siem Reap, the focus was on waste management worldwide, with participants learning from international experts and each other how to improve solid waste management in their own communities. The first article in our series on the different experiences looks at the Asian context and the German approach.

The background and context for the urgent need to reform waste management in ASEAN was given by Rowan Fraser, project consultant with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESPAC) in his keynote speech. He described how the urban population in Asia was rising dramatically and was forecast to hit 250 million by 2030. In addition, incomes in Asia are rising rapidly – all this translates into higher consumption and more waste generation. UNESPAC is therefore encouraging local governments to view garbage as a resource and implement innovative ideas of recycling and reusing waste, instead of letting the rubbish pile up in landfills or burn it. Such garbage can be turned into alternative energy and compost and in that way generate income which will help municipalities with the costs of responsible waste management. 

There are many advantages of such recycling and energy generating schemes for the local communities; however, there are also many challenges for the implementers, since it is not always easy to make them financially viable and to get the local community to participate in these schemes. Local ownership needs to be established through careful socialisation, taking the views of local people into account and keep communities constantly informed and involved.

The German approach was presented by Michael Dahm, Regional Director of the German Rhein-Sieg-Abfallwirtschaftsgesellschaft, a regional waste management centre in the west of the country. He started off with pointing out a simple trick to already be more environmentally friendly when collecting rubbish – use large bins for people to dump their garbage in rather than individual garbage bags which are put outside buildings to be collected. Bins are sturdier, there is no need for individual plastic bags, they can not be blown away by strong winds or torn open by vermin – not many Asian countries use bins, so this was an interesting concept for the audience. 

There is a clear legal structure on how to deal with waste in Germany and while the national level provides the framework, for example decisions that waste needs to be segregated, many of the details are within the responsibility of the local level, for example how to approach waste segregation, how often waste is collected and how high the waste collection fees are.

The importance of communication and socialization of the concept of recycling and waste segregation to the local community was very much highlighted in the German example as well, echoing the experiences of UNESPAC. In Germany that starts already with playful information events in kindergartens and schools and continues with days of open doors at treatment centres and public announcements and posters. 

The experiences in two Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia and the Philippines, will be covered in our second article published in October.

For more information on waste management on www.delgosea.eu: 

Waste Management Captures DELGOSEA’s Imagination in Siem Reap

Results from Waste Management Survey in Cambodia Published

DELGOSEA Members Concerned about Waste Management in their Communities

Turning Waste into Alternative Energy in Kendari, Indonesia

Chiang Rai City, Thailand

DELGOSEA Resources on Waste Management

Case study – Innovative Waste Management in Thailand