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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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State of Waste Management in South East Asia


I INTRODUCTION

Human activities generate waste. In recent years the volume of waste has been increasing at an alarming rate, posing a formidable challenge to governments. A 1999 World Bank report predicted that the total volume of municipal solid waste alone that is generated in Asia and the Pacific will more than double by year 2025, greatly surpassing capacities of existing waste treatment facilities. The complexities and enormity of the challenges become evident when we consider other waste types to be managed. These include industrial solid waste, municipal wastewater, industrial wastewater, storm water and hazardous waste. This paper provides snapshots, or quick but comprehensive pictures, of what is happening in terms of waste generation, treatment, disposal and management within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). We will also look at current approaches at sustainable integrated waste management.

Urban population in ASEAN countries, except in Singapore, is expected to increase between 5.1 percent to 7.2 percent within this decade (Table 1). The volume of waste generated by human activities is expected to continue to increase accordingly.

Table 1: Urban Population Trends in Selected Countries of South East Asia 1980-2020
Country   Urban population as a percentage of total population Percentage change in urban population territory
 
Total
Population
1990
(million)
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
1980
1990
1990
2000
2000
2010
2010
2020
Malaysia
15
34.6
43.0
51.2
58.4
64.8
+11.6
+18.2
+7.2
+6.4
Myanmar
42
24.0
24.8
28.4
35.4
43.3
+0.8
+3.6
+7.1
+7.9
Philippines
62
37.4
42.7
48.9
55.7
62.5
+5.3
+6.2
+6.8
+6.2
Singapore
3
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.00
100.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
Thailand
55
17.1
22.2
28.9
36.7
44.7
+5.1
+6.7
+7.8
+8.0
Vietnam
67
19.2
19.9
22.3
27.4
35.1
+0.7
+2.4
+5.1
+7.7
Source: Compiled from United Nations (1993), World Urbanization Prospects: 1992 Revision, United Nations, New York.

At the same time issues of rapid urbanization continue to challenge ASEAN cities. There is a widening gap between society’s rapidly changing demands for more urban services and the capacity of cities to meet these demands. This has led to significant environmental and health issues associated with wastes, such as water and soil contamination from solid and liquid wastes, and pollution of rivers, lakes, seas from wastewater.

In the succeeding sections the waste-generating sectors are classified into six sub-sectors, which will be discussed according to their specific natures. Often, different government agencies are mandated to manage different waste sectors, which will be presented in the subsequent discussions. This fragmented approach to waste management, coupled with a lack of clear definition and delineation of the different waste types, makes an assessment of current waste management practices in most ASEAN countries difficult. Be that as it may, as an initial attempt at sub-regional analysis, our discussion will focus on the following waste sub-sectors:

  • Municipal solid waste
  • Industrial solid waste
  • Hazardous/toxic waste
  • Municipal wastewater
  • Industrial wastewater
  • Storm water

Table of Contents

  • Brochure
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  • International Year of Forests
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  • World Environment Day
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  • UNEP Campaign
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