The trend today is to outsource solid waste management to the private sector. Cities in Hong Kong and Macau, China, have seen improvements in their waste management systems thanks to these new arrangements. The cities carefully weighed the costs and environmental benefits of outsourcing the task to the private sector. They have recorded financial savings and environmental improvements since the implementation of waste management programs. But who should be the next recipient of this service? And how can we make the most of it?
Privatization: Private companies are now handling about 20 percent of the nation’s waste collection and disposal. This trend has caught on in Asia, and in Singapore, the cost of collecting and disposing of refuse tripled in a decade, waste services prompting the government to create a private limited company called SEMAC Pte Ltd. The new firm, SEMAC, will provide private waste collection and disposal services to Singapore residents. And with an increasingly competitive business environment, private waste service is becoming more important than ever.
Municipal solid waste management has several challenges. The collection services often fail to meet the needs of their customers. Collection vehicles are often old and poorly maintained, resulting in loss of part of their load during the trips to the disposal site. They also lack spare parts and are frequently out of service. Collection workers earn money by sorting waste and often have contracts with junk dealers, neglecting their main duty of collecting solid waste. Increasing local community participation in waste management is essential to increasing recycling options.
Proper waste management practices have economic and health benefits. Yet, in recent years, the region’s infrastructure has failed to keep up with growth in the economy. Despite this, inefficient waste management practices have been attributed to lack of administration and finance. As a result, standards of waste management remain very low in many cities. Furthermore, inadequate technology for waste disposal has led to problems. Consequently, the region has been left with inadequate solutions for its solid waste management.
Local governments should minimize the frequency of residential waste collection. A twice-weekly collection is sufficient from a public health standpoint. In addition, local governments should focus on residential waste collection and allow the private sector to pick up non-residential waste. Non-residential waste collection is often self-funded by the private sector. Municipal governments should develop a license for private haulers to generate revenue. Private haulers should charge their customers based on the volume and frequency of waste they generate.
The creation of hazardous waste is a worldwide issue. Most of it is generated in industrialized countries. This means that a region’s capacity to manage waste has reached its limits. The dumping activities of industrialized nations are a huge contributing factor to this problem. As a result, the capacity of the region is limited and unable to cope with the increase in hazardous waste. It is also vital to ensure that hazardous waste is safely disposed of and not dumped.