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State of Waste Management in South East Asia

II TYPES OF WASTES – Sources & Composition

The most fundamental step in waste management is quantifying and qualifying the different types of waste being generated. It is important to have a system for the collection and analysis of basic information about wastes. Among the data needed are: the sources of wastes, the quantities of waste generated, their composition and characteristics, the seasonal variations and future trends of generation. Such information forms the basis for the development of appropriate waste management strategies. In fact, data collection and management should be an on-going exercise for monitoring purposes and to enable future and long-term planning and decision-making.

A. Municipal Solid Waste

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) can be defined using Chapter 21.3 of Agenda 21 (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, June 14, 1992 Chapter 21 "Environmentally Sound Management of Solid Wastes and Sewage-related Issues")

"Solid wastes…include all domestic refuse and non-hazardous wastes such as commercial and institutional wastes, street sweepings and construction debris. In some countries the solid wastes management system also handles human wastes such as night-soil, ashes from incinerators, septic tank sludge and sludge from sewage treatment plants. If these wastes manifest hazardous characteristics they should be treated as hazardous wastes."

MSW is thus seen as primarily coming from households but also includes wastes from offices, hotels, shopping complexes/shops, schools, institutions, and from municipal services such as street cleaning and maintenance of recreational areas. The major types of MSW are food wastes, paper, plastic, rags, metal and glass, with some hazardous household wastes such as electric light bulbs, batteries, discarded medicines and automotive parts. Table 2 highlights the main sources of MSW, the waste generators, and types of solid waste generated.

Table 2: Sources and Types of Municipal Solid Waste
Sources Typical waste generators Types of solid waste
Residential Single and multifamily dwellings Food wastes, paper, cardboard, plastics, textiles, glass, metals, ashes, special wastes (bulky items, consumer electronics, batteries, oil, tires) and household hazardous wastes
Commercial Stores, hotels, restaurants, markets, office buildings Paper, cardboard, plastics, wood, food wastes, glass, metals, special wastes, hazardous wastes
Institutional Schools, government center, hospitals, prisons Paper, cardboard, plastics, wood, food wastes, glass, metals, special wastes, hazardous wastes
Municipal services Street cleaning, landscaping, parks, beaches, recreational areas Street sweepings, landscape and tree trimmings, general wastes from parks, beaches, and other recreational areas

Among the ASEAN countries there is a marked range of waste generation per capita. Malaysia (population of 22 million) generated an estimated 5,475,000 tons of solid waste. This is about 0.68 kg per capita/day in 2001. This was comparable to Singapore’s 5,035,415 tons of waste in the same year. However, Singapore’s per capita waste generation is much bigger because it has a population of only 4,452,700.

Vietnam generates about 49,134,000 tons per year (about 0.61 kg/capita/day). In the Philippines, waste generation is an average of 36,172.50 tons per year, i.e. 0.50 kg/capita/day (in urban areas) and 0.30 kg/capita/day (in rural areas). In Lao PDR average urban waste production is 0.75 kg per capita per day. The quantity of waste produced by Thailand in 2001 was 14.1 million tons or 38,640 tons per day (about 0.23 kg/capita/day), an increase of about 470 tons per day compared to year 2000. Figure 1 gives the rates of waste generation for these ASEAN countries in 2001.

Figure 1: Waste Generation in Selected ASEAN Countries (2001)

Among the cities there are distinct variations in the proportions of waste constituents. For instance, Jakarta, Indonesia, generates 2.77 liters waste per capita per day broken down as follows: 73.92 percent organics, 10.18 percent paper, 7.86 percent plastic, 2.04 percent metal, 1.75 percent glass, 1.57 percent textile, 0.98 percent wood, 0.55 percent rubber/imitation leather, 0.29 percent batteries, 0.86 percent others).

Mandalay City in Myanmar generates 10,526 tons per year, consisting mostly of 47.02 percent organic, 39.44 percent mixed in organics, 10.14 percent wood/trimmings, and 1.9 percent plastic. Vietnam’s urban waste typically consists of 30 percent organics, 30 percent plastic, 15 percent paper, 25 percent glass, cans and other metals.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with a population of one million had a waste volume of 450,963 m3 in 1998 (1.23 liters/capita/day).

Brunei with a population of 340,800 (2002 estimate) generates waste at a rate of 392 tons a day (1.15kg/capita/day) comprising of 33 percent paper, 25 percent food waste, 16 percent plastic, 14 percent metals, 5 percent glass and 7 percent others.

While it had not been the original intention to include construction and demolition waste in this sector, this type of waste has been included in the municipal solid waste category by the authorities concerned.

Figure 2 presents the general composition of typical MSW of selected cities in SEA. The highly urbanized cities are shown to generate a high percentage of organic and mixed inorganic waste – between 70 to 80 percent, with about 10 to 24 percent made up of paper and cardboard waste.

Figure 2: Approximate Composition of Municipal Solid Waste in Selected Cities of ASEAN Member Countries 2001

Bangkok's MSW composition in 2001 was organic waste 44-48 percent, 13-17 percent mixed plastics, 11-12 percent paper, 4-6 percent inorganic wastes including glass, wood and textiles, and 2-3 percent metal and others. Moisture content was about 50-60 percent showing little difference between the dry and wet seasons.

A detailed breakdown of the types and quantities of solid waste generated in Singapore is given below in Table 3. Note that paper and cardboard and metal wastes together constitute almost 50 percent of the total volume of solid waste. Singapore, as with most other ASEAN countries, considers construction and demolition waste as part of total municipal solid waste.

Table 3: Types and Quantities of Solid Waste Generated Per Year in Singapore, 2001

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In Singapore, solid waste is generated by both domestic as well as non-domestic, i.e. commercial and industry, activities. In most ASEAN countries, there is generally no system to identify and classify MSW into domestic, commercial and/or industrial wastes. All types of solid waste are mixed together and not sorted at home or at other sources. So there is no differentiation during collection by public or private contractors. In some countries waste collected is taken to a common processing center for separation, treatment and disposal.

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