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<Municipal Solid Waste Management>

Sound Practices

1.4.5 Important Problems and questions

Projects for composting and vermiculture must consider marketing and/or absorption of the product as a priority issue, since underfinanced municipalities are unlikely to finance them, even if they result in disposal savings.

A central issue for identification of sound composting techniques in the poorer countries is whether they should aim for source separation of organics, or whether manual involvement in sorting and pre-processing of mixed wastes is a sound approach. Source separation is not feasible on a large scale at present, because neither the economic nor the environmental motivation is strong enough among the general public. At the same time, the waste streams at the moment are so high in organics as to make composting of mixed MSW, if performed on a small enough or modular scale, a reasonably sound practice. The Jakarta experiments illustrate the dependence upon manual sorting of mixed wastes to obtain organics, and this raises the issue of support for waste picking under working conditions that are unlikely to be healthy.


Major factors to consider in composting
  • Siting: Compost facilities must be reasonably close to the input stream and the potential users, but must be sited in a way that is compatible with the desires of the nearby community.
  • Input stream: Source-separated organics are best, but this is not possible in most developing countries. Mixed waste can be processed to yield acceptable compost.
  • Selection of appropriate technology: The technology chosen must be adequate for the input stream and for the level of economic development of the country.
  • Scale: A smaller-scale facility often facilitates careful composting and the formation of a good product.
  • Market development: Governments generally need to stimulate the compost market. Quality standards are an important element of this.
  • Existing compost practices using compost from dumps and garbage dump farming: These traditional activities, while often dangerous, could in some instances be safe if an adequate testing program were in place.


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