Municipal Assembly to construct landfill site

By Albert Futukpor, GNA
Savelugu (N/R), Mar 03, GNA – The Savelugu/Nanton Municipal Assembly has begun the processes to acquire a 20-acre land to construct a landfill site to among others process waste materials into other resources.

Mr Issaka Braimah Basintale, Coordinating Director of the Assembly who announced this during a media outreach on the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana (SC4Gh) initiative at Savelugu, said the move was to address sanitation challenges in the municipality.

The SC4Gh, an initiative of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in collaboration with IRC Ghana, is an inducement prize to stimulate competition among Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.

It is also to encourage inclusive partnership for the design and implementation of liquid waste management strategies.

The media outreach, therefore, was to enable journalists to among others, interact with key local stakeholders on measures put in place to eliminate open defecation, reduce the sanitation gap between the rich and the poor, and increase access to basic and hygienic sanitation for all in the Assembly.

Mr Basintale said Zoomlion Ghana Limited had expressed interest to partner with them to construct the landfill site at Savelugu to improve sanitation for all at the municipality.

He said the Assembly was working to end open defecation in its communities by offering technical support to households to construct household latrines while, sensitising communities to embrace the community-led total sanitation (CLTS) concept to promote hygiene.

He said under the competition the Assembly had rehabilitated nine public toilets and constructed three institutional latrines while three communities attained open defecation free status.

He said they had also developed a by-law, which was in the process being gazetted to help enforce sanitation practices.

Mr Basintale said they were mobilising all resources to ensure successful implementation of the SC4Gh initiative in view of its immense benefits to the people.

Mr Kwame Asubonteng, Sanitation Lead at IRC Ghana commended the Assembly for its efforts to address sanitation challenges in the municipality calling on them to partner other innovative technologies to turn waste into resources.



$15m Feacal Treatment Plant starts full operation after May


A $15 million project that was launched last year to stop the dumping of raw faecal waste into the sea is set to complete its test run afterMay this year.

The Lavender Hill Feacal Treatment Plant, which is managed by waste management giant, Zoomlion, currently receives an average of about 200 septic trucks a day – wastes that would have hitherto found its way into the sea or the Korle Lagoon (Lavender Hill).

However, when the plant commences operation later this year, the number of septic trucks that can be processed a day is expected to increase significantly.

The plant, the first of its kind in West Africa, has a maximum treatment capacity of 2,400 cu.m/day.

The Engineer in-charge of the treatment plant, Florence Cobbald, said the plant is likely to start full operation in July this year.

“We are trying to test our machines to ascertain our level of preparedness and ensure that nothing affects our work once we start full operations,” she said.

The plant consists of three stages: the Primary Treatment stage which involves screening to remove large substances from the raw sewage, the Primary Setting stage, and the Raw Septage and Sludge Dewatering stage.

Production of biogas from the treated raw sewage will also become possible when full operation starts in July.

These were revealed during a tour with media personnel to key installations of Zoomlion Ghana.

Apart from the treatment plant, journalists were also taken to the Korle Lagoon where dredging is being done by Dredge Masters, another Zoomlion subsidiary that focuses on dredging choked waterways and drains.

At the Korle Lagoon, the Operations Manager of Dredge Masters, Sena Adiepena, said the next phase of dredging process will target the large wastes, which sometimes include dead bodies deliberately dumped into the muddy lagoon, as well as other large obstructions that make the dredging a daunting task.

Former President John Mahama last year marked the officially shut down the Lavender Hill in Accra, notorious for its unpleasant stench, and opened the new faecal treatment in a bid to improve the country’s sanitation.



New report suggests Hong Kong takes over from Ghana as new global e-waste dumping ground

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi


A new report by the Basel Action Network (BAN) published last year says Hong Kong is becoming the new dumping ground for electronics waste (e-waste) from the US.

The report titled ‘Scam recycling: e-Dumping on Asia by US recyclers’ says up to 20 per cent of all US e-waste is likely being dumped in Hong Kong.

Not long ago, Ghana was described as the world’s e-waste dumping ground, and the Agbogbloshie grounds in Accra, where e-waste was being crudely recycled was labeled the world’s most polluted area.

As recently as June 2016, Ghana was cited as one of the top destinations for the trafficking of illegal hazardous wastes in West Africa in a rapid response assessment of the UN Environmental Programme and INTERPOL.

In the same month, that same year, Ghana passed the E-waste law to deal with the matter.

But the BAN study made reference to an earlier study, e-Trash Transparency Project which found that the illegal exports of e-waste to developing countries has reached alarming proportions.

According to BAN it chose three waste types in this study — LCD monitors with mercury backlights, CRT monitors, and printers, and installed trackers on these items, that are considered hazardous waste under international law.

“To date, the study has witnessed 34 per cent of the 205 tracker deployments move off­shore, with 31 per cent of the total going to devel­oping countries. Looking at those that were exported only, 93 per cent of the exports went to developing countries. 87 per cent have gone to Asia, 3 per cent to Africa, 1 per cent to the Middle East, 1 per cent to Latin America and Caribbean region. 7 per cent moved to the developed countries of Mexico and Canada,” it said.

The study also found that of the 152 trackers delivered directly to recyclers, which is the primary subject of the study, 40 per cent were exported — significantly higher than the 15 per cent export rate for the 53 trackers delivered to charities or retailers.

“In the course of the entire pathways (chains) of the 205 tracker movements, the trackers passed through the hands of 168 different identifiable US recyclers. Of these companies delivered to or revealed, over 45 per cent were part of a movement that went offshore (export chain),” the study pointed out.

It further noted that LCDs were exported at the highest rate of the three types of equipment deployed: 53 per cent of LCDs studied were exported, 30 per cent of printers, and 18 per cent of CRTs. LCDs contain­ing mercury lamps, as exclusively deployed in this study, are likely the most toxic of the three.

The study discovered that while there are strict rules on the exportation and importation of e-waste from the US, most of the companies involved flouted the law.

BAN found that many of the countries that were importing the e-waste are among 150 countries prohibited from importing Basel listed hazardous wastes from the US.

“Once the waste has been exported from the US, it is considered “illegal traffic” and is a criminal act for those in Basel Parties to import it,” it indicated.

BAN referred to one rule in the US that requires companies to pre-notify the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) if they wish to export some CRTs (CRT Rule).

“However, none of the companies found in this study to be involved in a chain of export for CRTs are listed on the EPA website as having provided the necessary notification; this means those CRT ship­ments are likely to violate US law,” it said.

According to BAN, it discovered during the study that, by far, most of the exportation went to Hong Kong’s New Territories area with a distant second destination being mainland China.

“These new findings, based on tracking data, have revealed a much different picture than our findings over the past decade where it was observed that the vast majority of e-waste from North America went to mainland China, and most of that to Guiyu, a township and region in Guangdong Province,” it said, adding that, this previous data was the subject of an earlier report it published in 2002.

BAN as a result of the latest findings of its study acknowledged a dramatic geographic shift, which it says is indicative of China’s recently escalated effort to enforce their long-standing e-waste import ban.

But then, ironically, it appears that the Hong Kong (SAR), usually thought of as one of the most technologically and economically advanced areas of China, has not enforced the Chinese import ban as diligently as mainland China has and appears to have in fact become a new pollution haven, the report said.

“Hong Kong’s New Terrritories region near the mainland border now appears to be a new “ground zero” for e-waste processing,” the study concluded.



Dell Adds Ocean Plastics to its Packaging

By: Cheryl McMullen



As environmental leaders around the world continue to put the onus of product recycling back on waste generators, Dell Inc., is taking another step along its own path to a circular economy by adding ocean plastics to its packaging.

Last week, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell announced it will keep 16,000 pounds of plastics out of the ocean and in the economy by mixing it in a 1:3 ratio with recycled HDPE plastics to make a new packaging system for its XPS 13 2-in1 laptop. Overall, 25 percent of the recycled content of the trays will be ocean plastics. Dell hopes to increase the amount to 20,000 pounds of ocean plastics next year and continue to look at how the ocean plastics can be used for both packaging and possibly products in the future.

The company, says Oliver Campbell, the director of procurement & packaging innovation at Dell, took a serious look at ocean plastics when its first social good advocate, actor and entrepreneur Adrian Grenier, helped leadership understand the breadth of challenges our oceans face today.

After collaborating with Grenier, who is best known for his role in the HBO series Entourage, and the Lonely Whale Foundation on “Cry Out – The Lonely Whale VR Experience,” a three-minute underwater VR expedition created by 3D Live with Dell Precision, Alienware, AMD and HTC technology. The experience is almost like a ride, where participants get the sensation of diving deep into the sea and are greeted by shoals of fish – but also by carpets of plastic pollution and the damaging noise of seismic probes.

Then, with more research, says Campbell, the company learned the bleak numbers behind ocean plastics. “There’s approximately 8 million tons of plastic waste going into the ocean every year and that number is increasing. If things don’t change by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. And that is just staggering,” he says.

Although the perception is a large sea of plastics thick enough to walk upon floating in the ocean somewhere, says Campbell, the reality is that once plastics are in the ocean they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, and the ability to recover them is greatly diminished.

“We were dissuaded quite early on in this project that we couldn’t be Jacque Cousteau and National Geographic going out on a ship and collecting ocean plastics. That was my only disappointment in this— that I couldn’t be Jacque Cousteau. But I still think we are doing great things for the ocean.”

So instead, the company is collecting the plastics at its most concentrated point—just before it goes into the ocean. Dell is focusing on Portau-Prince, Haiti, where research showed a large amount of ocean plastics come from. Additional focus is on Southeast Asia in India, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and the Phillipines, which according to a white paper discussing Dell’s approach, have the highest concentrations of land-based ocean plastics and can be viewed as a supply chain network providing substantial materials on a daily basis. The reason for this, Campbell says, is many of these areas lack a formal waste system for handling garbage and recycling.

So, in Haiti, local pickers collect these land-based ocean plastics from beaches, waterways and coastal areas and take them to collection or recycling centers, where the plastic is aggregated and sorted by the waste processors. They are then processed and refined and sent to China where the packaging trays are made. The trays are molded and stamped with an illustration of whales and the #2 recycling symbol. The trays, are curbside recyclable in many communities the company says, with the hopes that they will stay in the loop of the circular economy.

The company has taken a hard look at its packaging, making it a priority in its Dell Legacy of Good goal of 100 percent sustainable packaging by 2020. Campbell says the quality of the mixed plastics works well for packaging and the cost may even be lower than other packaging.

This is not Dell’s first go at recycling, he adds. The technology company has a 10-year history of innovation in recycling and packaging as well as recycled content, such as water bottles in its computer products.

With the goal of the circular economy being to recycle and reuse materials continually, rather than send them to landfill after a single use, Dell’s packaging innovation has lead it to use various sustainable products including wheat straw, bamboo and mushrooms in addition to the ocean plastics. The company says using recycled content materials from various waste streams helps break free of the linear march of materials to landfills when they reach end of life.

Dell also has lead the tech industry in efforts to recycle computer plastic, as it announced in 2015, it was incorporating 2.89 million pounds of that plastic e-waste into its OptiPlex 3030 All-in-One, OptiPlex 3020 and 13 other desktops and monitors. In that effort, the company collected computer plastics in take-back programs it had set up in 78 countries and then shipped to China, where they were shredded, melted and blended with virgin plastic before being molded into new parts. The recycled plastic content averaged 35 percent.



Zoomlion accuses Invincible Forces of taking over waste site; causing financial loss



Waste Management Group, Zoomlion has accused pro-NPP security group Inincible Forces of  forcefully taking over a mini waste transfer station belonging to the company.

This the company insists has caused financial loss to them and dire environmental consequences to the residents in the Tema metropolis.

The mini transfer station at the Presby Junction at Ashaiman, temporarily holds refuse for onward transfer to Kpone, where it is recycled.

But the area, since its takeover, according to the company’s General Manager has become a landfill site.

Seth Ocran in narrating how the takeover came about said “early January, they called and told us they wanted to take over and we asked why they wanted to take over since we do not have a contract with them.

“So we agreed to meet on Wednesday, but on Tuesday morning my officer in charge at the site, called and told me that they have come to take over the place.”

Joy News is learning, however, that the Invincible Forces have been ordered by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Ishmael Ashittey to hand over the facility.

But Mr. Ocran says the metropolitan assembly should bear the cost of clearing the waste.

“Our worry is the waste that is there because if there is any outbreak, it is going to be very serious and there is a school opposite the place.

“And the unfortunate thing is that they have set fire into the waste and now when you go there, there is smoke emanating into the environment and that is not good at all.”



Ghana: MP Joe Mensah Evacuates 35yrs Refuse Dump


The chiefs and people of Whindo, a farming community in the Kwesimintsim Constituency, can now heave a sigh of relief, after their Member of Parliament (MP), in collaboration with the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) Waste Management Department, cleared a huge refuse dump in the area.

The cost of the evacuation of the refuse, which is estimated at GH¢7,000, is being born by the MP, Joseph Mensah.

Currently, a sum of GH¢5,000 has been given out from the pocket of the MP as part payment to the contractor evacuating the refuse.

The refuse dump, which has grown to the height of a storey-building, is reported to have been in existence for the last 35 years.

This was made known by the residents of Whindo when the Western File, together with the MP and his team, inspected progress of work, which is going on steadily.

Considering the stench emanating from the refuse dump, this has come as a huge relief to nearby residents.

Joe Mensah told this paper that he decided to finance the evacuation of the refuse dump from his own pocket due to the numerous appeals from the people of the area.

According to him, he received a complaint from the chief of the area to consider helping the community evacuate the refuse dump, because the stench emanating from it was unaccommodating.

Joe Mensah continued that considering the appeal from the chief, he decided to treat it with urgency hence his decision to finance the evacuation.

He said though he had no access to the Common Fund (CF), he considered the appeal a pressing one, hence his decision not to wait for money from the Common Fund.

For now, MP Joe Mensah said the STMA Waste Management Department is helping to evacuate the refuse by supplying some trucks for the exercise.

A resident of the area, Madam Matilda Ansah, who was at the site, expressed her heartfelt appreciation to the MP.

According to her, the refuse dump has remained so for the last 35 years.

Another resident, who also walked up to the site of the refuse dump, told the MP in the face; “Thank you for making my hometown beautiful.”


101 Easy Eco Friendly, Zero Waste Tips


I thought it would be a lot of fun to compose over 100 easy tips for going zero waste that you could implement relatively quickly. You might not be able to implement all of the today, but you can definitely get a jump start on a lot!

101 easy eco friendly, zero waste tips that you can implement today! From

A lot of these things are SUPER easy to do, it just takes a little bit of commitment. Obviously, you don’t have to do everything on this list. Going zero waste is a journey, and a lot of times there is more than one option.

There is no one correct way to do something. Rather there is a multitude of ways ranging from best to better to not so good. Weigh all of your options and be a conscious consumer. Reducing your consumption is the most important thing you can do.

But, in the meantime, pick a couple of things and give something new a try! You have to start somewhere. And, don’t let only being able to do a little prevent you from doing anything. All the little things add up to massive impact!

Every day we have a choice to make this world a little wasteful. What can you do today?

  1. Ask for no straw in your drink order when out.
  2. Don’t leave your house without a full reusable water bottle.
  3. Ditch tissues for handkerchiefs.
  4. Pick up a lonely banana.
  5. Always say no thank you to free promotional items. They tend to be cheap and break easily.
  6. Get a library card to support your local sharing economy.
  7. Donate unused items in good condition to support the second-hand market.
  8. Think second-hand first when purchasing something.
  9. Try elderberry syrup if you feel a cold coming on instead of immediately reaching for a plastic pill bottle.
  10. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush.
  11. Turn old sheets and towels into handkerchiefs, rags, napkins, and cloth produce bags.
  12. Build a zero waste kit and put in the trunk of your car or carry it with you when you’ll be out so you’ll always be prepared. It doesn’t have to be large just a few items!
  13. Wash clothes when they are actually dirty, instead of after only one wear.
  14. Open a window to cool down your home or air it out.
  15. Try to avoid palm oil.
  16. Buy food without packaging or minimal packaging.
  17. Instead of buying something when you’re having a bad day, do something. I.e. go on a walk, take a yoga class, meet up with a friend.
  18. Repurpose stale bread.
  19. Make dry shampoo to stretch between washes.
  20. Surround yourself with items that serve multiple purposes to streamline and cut excess junk.
  21. Commit to bringing your reusable bags to the store. If you don’t have them, turn around and go get them! After forgetting them once, you won’t do it again.
  22. Try canning to preserve food.
  23. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap, it tends to come with less packaging.
  24. Swap disposable pads and tampons for cloth pads or a menstrual cup.
  25. Change light bulbs to LEDs.
  26. Be mindful when using technology.
  27. Bring reusable produce bags for fruits and veggies.
  28. Put on a sweater and socks before turning up the heat.
  29. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  30. Don’t buy anything impulsively!
  31. Try making your own lotion.
  32. Check out your farmers market.
  33. Make your own face mask from stuff in your pantry.
  34. Try cloth diapering.
  35. Get some houseplants at a local nursery to purify your air, don’t forget to return the little plastic pots!
  36. Get rid of pests naturally.
  37. Meal plan to avoid food waste.
  38. Unplug electronics when not in use.
  39. Try making tooth powder to avoid unrecyclable toothpaste tubes.
  40. Buy more locally made goods.
  41. Repair something when it breaks.
  42. If you’re looking for a specialty item, like camping gear or an extra table for a party, ask a friend if you can borrow one before making a purchase.
  43. Plant a small garden.
  44. Learn how to freeze your food without plastic so it doesn’t go to waste.
  45. Make your own febreze spray to freshen your room for pennies!
  46. Start a backyard compost.
  47. Swap little plastic chapstick tubes for DIY lip balm.
  48. Surround yourself with tools and items that are meant to last a lifetime. Try to only buy objects once.
  49. Try your hand at an easy all-purpose cleaning spray.
  50. Look into collecting rainwater or a greywater system.
  51. Store your food properly to make it last longer.
  52. Find your local cobbler to repair tired shoes.
  53.  Know where everything you buy comes from whether it be food, clothing, or other household goods
  54. Ask for no plastic and reused packaging materials for online orders.
  55. Pack your lunch instead of eating out every day.
  56. Reduce your meat consumption. If you’re not ready to go vegetarian start small: try Meatless Monday, weekday vegetarian, or even weekday vegan.
  57. Learn to regrow kitchen scraps.
  58. Line dry a load instead of using the dryer.
  59. Try homemade mouthwash.
  60. Ditch plastic shower loofahs for a real loofah or a bamboo bath brush.
  61. Ask for a real mug at the coffee shop when staying in.
  62. Always run a full dishwasher or load of clothes.
  63. Most sunscreen causes coral bleaching, go coral friendly!
  64. Bring your own container for to-go food and leftovers.
  65. Ditch paper towels and use tea towels and rags.
  66. Beware of greenwashing, always do your research.
  67. Make your own deodorant.
  68. If it’s a 30 minute or less walk, get outside instead of driving.
  69. Vote with your dollars for a sustainable future.
  70. Bring your own to-go cup when getting coffee on the run.
  71. Look into tree-free TP.
  72. Learn how to repair a button or hem to extend the life of your clothing.
  73. Look into rechargeable batteries instead of disposables.
  74. Serve dinner with cloth napkins. 
  75. Eat more vegetables and legumes.
  76. Keep a bucket in the shower to water plants or flush the toilet.
  77. Wrap presents in newsprint or not at all!
  78. Swap cotton rounds for reusable rounds.
  79. Focus on experiences rather than things.
  80. Switch from a plastic disposable razor to a metal safety razor.
  81. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.
  82. Make homemade gifts to give to friends and family.
  83. Try Wheatless Wednesdays to cut back on intensive grain farming.
  84. Avoid junk mail by placing a sticker on your box or going to
  85. Keep a stocked pantry to avoid getting takeout on busy nights.
  86. Learn where to properly dispose of items like gift cards, old cell phones, batteries and unusable cords can be turned in at best buy etc.
  87. Find your local tailor to help with clothing repairs.
  88. Ask yourself if you truly need it before making any purchases.
  89. Go paperless for all your bills!
  90. Swap don’t shop! Host a clothing swap with friends.
  91. Pick up litter when you’re out and dispose of it properly.
  92. Make your morning cup of coffee with a french press or pour over with a reusable filter to avoid extra waste.
  93. Ditch plastic q-tips for plastic-free or reusable.
  94. Ditch sponges in lieu of compostable scrubs or brushes.
  95. Try to shrink the amount you recycle. Zero waste is about recycling less not more.
  96. Use both sides of the paper!
  97. Avoid receipts when out, ask if one has to be printed. Sometimes they do, but not always!
  98. Take public transit if available or carpool.
  99. Join a community garden.
  100. Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer.
  101. Make my favorite zero waste switch: look at installing a bidet attachment.

Are there any zero waste tips I left out? What would add to the list or tell someone who’s just starting the zero waste journey?



How the Waste Industry Can Lead on Climate Change

By: Kate Bailey

climate change

Our inefficiencies in tackling global climate change stem partly from a problem of timing. As a species, we’re predisposed to buy now and pay later, which doesn’t lend itself to long-term problem solving. We measure the impacts of carbon dioxide over centuries while our politics run on four-year cycles.

But our luck may be changing for the better: New science shows our inclination toward short-term actions could actually be a hidden strength because not all greenhouse gas emissions are created equal—some are fast and furious in their impacts while others are slow but steady. Our industry is poised to be front and center in the new short-term climate revolution.

Fast and furious

The climate impact from the waste industry comes primarily from methane, which is produced from the anaerobic decomposition of organic materials in a landfill. Methane has been flagged as one of three special greenhouse gases called Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

(SLCPs). True to their name, these gases are very short-lived, but they leave a lasting impression. For example, soot, another SLCP, can be 4,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, even though it only lasts in the atmosphere for a few weeks.

Methane, too, is also short lived but makes a big splash. In the next 20 years, methane is 84 times more potent than CO2—this means every ton of methane traps as much heat in our atmosphere as 84 tons of carbon dioxide.

The good news about these short-lived pollutants, if there is some, is that they represent an unprecedented opportunity to take immediate action to slow the rate of climate change. Aggressive efforts to reduce all SLCPs could reduce warming by half a degree between now and 2040, according to the U.N. Environment Programme.

Globally, nationally and locally, attention is rapidly turning to methane reductions because of the rapid results: Just cutting global methane emissions by 40 percent can buy us 15 years of “breathing space” on the pace of climate change. Reducing landfill methane is at the top of the solutions list. Every year in the United States, landfills emit over 426 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 124 coal-fired power plants, when measured over a 20-year impact. Slashing methane emissions from landfills represents a huge opportunity for the waste and recycling industries to contribute an immediate boost to our fight against climate change.

How we measure time

Methane is commonly cited as 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. But this is true only when the impacts are stretched out over 100 years. When you look at the impact over 20 years, methane is a whopping 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This is because methane only lasts in the atmosphere for 8 to 12 years before it breaks down into more benign components.

Both numbers are scientifically valid because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which oversees the global science on climate change, calculates the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in increments of 20 years, 100 years and 500 years.

When the Kyoto Protocol was written in 1997, the 100-year timeframe was chosen as the standard measurement because scientists thought we had more time to mitigate climate change back then. Fast forward 20 years, our climate situation is much more dire and imminent: Scientists now believe that we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 to avoid making the planet uninhabitable for many species and millions of people.

To state the obvious, we don’t have time to spare. We need to change the conversation right now to focus on the 20-year calculations. As a large producer of methane emissions, the waste industry should be a leading global voice for reducing methane pollution as quickly as possible given the enormous damage that can be done within just 20 years.

Methane capture at landfills—not good enough

The waste industry has championed more and better landfill gas capture systems as the solution to reducing methane emissions. The problem is that these systems are not immediately airtight. The EPA estimates gas capture in the first five years may be as low as zero, which means we’re already doing substantial damage to our climate. Over the lifetime of the system, gas capture rates may be as low as just 20 percent, according to the IPCC.

Gas capture systems put a Band-Aid on the problem instead of addressing the root cause: Burying organic materials in landfills.

The only solution is to keep all organics out of landfills by reducing wasted food, improving paper recycling, and aggressively composting.

Shifting gears away from carbon

California is the first state to strategically redirect its climate strategy away from reducing carbon dioxide emissions to focus on short-lived climate pollutants. Specifically, the state set a goal to reduce its methane emissions 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030.

California’s strategy is focused largely on reducing organics going to landfills by 75 percent by 2025.

This means big investments in organics recovery infrastructure and markets, including composting and anaerobic digestion. But it’s not just these end-of-pipe solutions: The state is also focusing on the infrastructure to rescue food, feed hungry people and address systemic reasons for wasted food. To make this all happen, California earmarked $40 million in incentives in 2016 through its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs for these projects.

The real solution: Pollution prevention

California’s efforts underscore the fundamental shift that the waste and recycling industries need to take to eliminate our methane emissions. It moves us away from just patching the problem to fundamentally addressing the root cause and getting the organics out of landfills through composting and waste reduction.

In doing so, we actually create a two-fold climate solution. First, the potent methane emissions are eliminated. Second, through composting, we can sequester carbon in our soils. This means we not only stop adding more methane to the atmosphere, but we also start pulling carbon out of the atmosphere when we add compost to soils.

Pollution prevention always trumps pollution reduction, and the stakes couldn’t be higher with methane. The waste and recycling industries have an opportunity to slash methane emissions and contribute to the climate solution right now. Time’s a wastin’.

Kate Bailey is the project director of Eco-Cycle Solutions and works with citizens, government staff and elected officials to implement Zero Waste solutions around the U.S.



USAID Launches Municipal Waste Recycling Program in Southeast Asia


By: Darren Manning, Urban Development Officer, USAID’s E3/Land and Urban Office

Asian countries are responsible for more than half of the plastic waste in the world’s oceans. To help address this critical issue, USAID has launched a new program that focuses on identifying and scaling innovations to improve municipal waste recycling in three Asian countries — Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the Philippines — which are among the world’s top five producers of plastics waste.

Improving the management of municipal waste in these countries, which border two oceans, is imperative to reducing plastics pollution that threatens human health and adversely affects the marine environment.

In late 2016, I traveled to the Philippines to meet with local organizations and finalize work plans for the Municipal Waste Management Recycling Program with implementing partner Development Innovations Group (DIG).

The Municipal Waste Recycling Program (MWRP) is a four-year, $9 million initiative to address the global problem of marine plastics pollution. Implemented under USAID’s Making Cities Work program, MWRP will provide $3.5 million in grants and technical assistance to support promising municipal waste recycling efforts in Asia, evaluate their effectiveness, and make recommendations for future USAID investments in the sector.

Outside of Manila, Philippines, thousands of tons of seaweed, garbage and sewage were washed by floods into the streets of low-lying poorer suburbs. Photo Credit: Arlynn Aquino/EU

Tragedy and Inspiration

The Philippines has an estimated population of 100 million and produces more than 40,000 tons of garbage every day, or 14.6 million tons a year, thereby making solid waste management a serious health and environmental issue. The indiscriminate dumping of garbage kills rivers and other water bodies and prevents the free flow of water causing environmental hazards and flooding.

During the trip, I visited two communities that turned environmental threats into opportunities to change behavior and inspire political action around better waste management.

On July 10, 2000, after two consecutive typhoons and the constant deluge of the seasonal monsoon, Payatas, a massive mountain of garbage on the outskirts of Manila collapsed. At least 300 people — men, women, and children who lived and worked on the mountain — were buried alive in the avalanche of garbage. As an immediate result, the Philippine government swiftly shut down the Payatas dump and passed the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. This law sought to manage Manila’s trash problem and reduce the amount of garbage through recycling and composting programs.

aterial Recovery Facility in Batangas

Workers at a Material Recovery Facility in Batangas, Philippines. Photo Credit: Darren Manning/USAID

A few months after the disaster, the Payatas dump was reopened, at the request of the waste-pickers who depended on it for income, and because trash was piling up in the streets of Manila. New steps were taken to reduce the steepness of the slopes thus reducing the possibility of another fatal avalanche, and pipes were installed to vent methane gas emitted by the rotting garbage. Along with extensive intervention from the public and private sector, Payatas has become a model example of how to formalize a dump into a properly managed landfill. Through government and civil society support, the surrounding waste picker community of 30,000 was formally incorporated into the management, collection, separation, and recycling of all garbage arriving at Payatas. Supporting service industries have flourished and local residents benefit from new social programs in education, health, and financial management.

Thirteen years after the act was passed, less than a quarter of metro Manila’s barangays, or urban villages, have a working materials recovery facility. These recovery facilities are the lynchpin of the waste management plan. This is where food scraps become compost, glass bottles and plastics are routed to the right facilities, and residual trash is picked up and trucked to a landfill.

Material Recovery Facility

A Material Recovery Facility in Batangas, Philippines. Photo Credit: Darren Manning/USAID

In the riverside barangay of Potrero in Malabon City, the solid waste gathering in storm sewer grates and clogging waterways caused constant flooding during the rainy season. During this visit, I met with the Mother Earth Foundation and the Potrero Village Council who have initiated a Reduction/Reuse/Recycling Campaign to comply with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and improve recovery of household solid waste. As part of the campaign, Potrero established a disaster risk reduction plan, new material recovery facilities, an environmental education campaign, and enforced household participation. This has led to successful recovery of 93 percent of Potrero’s household waste with only 7 percent of the residual waste headed to the landfill.

Houses in Manila

In Manila, a dark line on the houses shows the height of the water level during a recent flood. Solid waste gathering in storm sewer grates and clogging waterways often causes flooding during the rainy season. Photo Credit: Henri Disselkoen/Development Innovations Group.

USAID is optimistic that the focused ongoing efforts in the Philippines, from the national to local levels, will make a sustained impact on improving solid waste management practices throughout the country.  USAID’s new Municipal Waste Recycling Program seeks to support these innovative programs and others through the grants process and share the results and success stories with other countries in the region.



Creating more value from e-waste plastics in Ghana



Accra, 9 February 2017: A hands-on training on e-waste plastics marks a starting point for new partnerships to work towards a better management of e-waste plastics in Ghana. The workshop aimed at improving technical skills to identify different waste plastic types, to recycle them and to find possible new applications. The workshop was jointly organized by the Ghana National Cleaner Production Centre, Empa, Oeko-Institut, the World Resources Forum, and the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency. The event met high interest by e-waste recyclers, plastic-using companies, NGOs and various other stakeholders.

Plastics constitute an important part of e-waste – around 20% by mass on average. Their recycling, while technically possible in most cases, requires specific know-how, appropriate machinery and typically generates low profit margins. As a result, e-waste plastics are generally disregarded as a non-valuable fraction, that “gets in the way” of recovering the metal fractions. In countries with a largely informal e-waste recycling economy, such plastics are usually dumped or burnt in the open. The open burning of cables to extract copper and aluminium wires provides an emblematic example of such practices, and of their potential harmfulness. Open cable burning indeed releases dioxins and furans, as well as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and various heavy metals. The dumping and/or open burning of plastics containing brominated flame retardants, which include internationally banned persistent organic pollutants (POPs), provides another example of the public health and environmental hazards posed by improper management of e-waste plastics.


The training was divided into two sessions: a hands-on one, focussing on simple polymer identification methods, followed by a more theoretical session presenting the basic principles of plastic recycling and potential applications for recycled e-waste plastics. After these sessions, a discussion between workshop presenters and participants was initiated, aiming at identifying potential linkages between e-waste plastic producers and plastic-using companies.

The identification and segregation of plastic types, subject of the first session, is often necessary to produce high-quality recyclates as most polymer types are incompatible with each other. While automated sorting systems are used for that purpose in countries with high labour costs, manual sorting techniques can get a long way in places where labour is cheap and plentiful, such as Ghana. Combining identification techniques provided by the Swiss Plastic Education and Training Centre (KATZ) and methods observed in Indian informal plastic recycling facilities, workshop participants were taught simple tests to recognize and sort the main types of plastic found in e-waste. The group was divided into 5 teams that were each given a sorting tool-kit, plastic flakes of different types, and a 4-page handout containing necessary information to identify plastic types. This practical session was met with high interest, and by the end of the session most participants were able to correctly identify the various plastic types.

The second session introduced basic processing steps of plastic recycling, such as sorting, shredding, washing, pelletizing and injection moulding, as well as basic principles including the segregation and proper disposal of hazardous fractions (such as brominated plastics), and the avoidance of food-contact applications. Furthermore, possible applications for recycled e-waste plastics were presented, including both products that are already produced domestically (such as crates, pallets, waste pipes and waste containers) and products known to be common applications for e-waste plastics but lacking domestic production in Ghana (such as printer or vacuum cleaner housings, car bumpers, wheel covers and coat hangers). For this latter category of products, scrap exports could be envisaged.

In the final discussion, participants were invited to share their experiences and challenges with e-waste plastics. Most attending e-waste recyclers indicated struggling to find downstream markets for their plastic fractions, with no better option than stockpiling them at the moment. Besides taking up valuable space, growing piles of plastic also represent a significant fire hazard. Plastic-using companies reported having little or no experience with e-waste plastics, but several showed interest in conducting recycling trials with such material. In some cases, discussions were particularly fruitful and led to agreements between e-waste recyclers and plastic companies to collaborate in the future. SRI plastic activities in Ghana will further encourage and support such collaborations until the end of 2017.

Unused waste plastic pile in Agbogbloshie, Accra
Unused waste plastic pile in Agbogbloshie, Accra
Shredded waste plastics stored at a recycler in Accra
Shredded waste plastics stored at a recycler in Accra