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Sunday, 12 February 2012

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Over 100 LG bodies to support waste management



Compost manufacturing site

Disposal of solid waste has become one of the major environmental issues in Sri Lanka. The most common being open dumping of garbage. Dumping of garbage on the road sides and in prohibited areas such as wetlands, marshy lands is a common practice.

In view of the various environmental problems arising out of inadequate clearing of waste management services by the relevant agencies the need for a national approach to handle this serious matter was becoming important. Thus, the National Policy for Solid Waste Management was established under the purview of environmental authorities. Yet the attitude of some in waste disposal and the difficulties faced by the relevant local authorities remained. Finding suitable land was a perennial problem for the local authorities.

According to the provisions in the Local Government Act, the local authorities are responsible for collecting and disposal of waste generated by the people within their jurisdiction. In most of the urbanized municipalities MSW management is one of the largest employers of labour. The lack of technical knowledge among the authorities was another problem. Public protests against earmarked lands to be developed as dumping sites and financial problems were among the key issues local authorities continue to face.

The ‘Pilisaru’ National Solid Waste Management Program under the Central Environment Authority (CEA) has been articulated to translate the National Policy into action. Particularly its main objectives which are identified as -

(a) Ensure environmental accountability and social responsibility of all waste generators, waste managers and service providers
(b) Actively involve individuals and all institutions in integrated and environmentally sound solid waste management practices
(c) Maximise resource recovery with a view to minimize the amount of waste for disposal
(d) Minimise adverse environmental impacts due to waste disposal to ensure health and well-being of the people and on ecosystems.


CEA Chairman Charitha Herath inspecting the site
The recycling site

It was identified properly controlled composting helps to minimise the social cost involved in poor solid waste management. On the other hand, agricultural lands in Sri Lanka face the problem of low productivity due to soil erosion and the need for natural fertilisers like compost has become essential in replacing the loss. It is very important to separate waste at the source of generation to different components to facilitate subsequent waste management practices, especially recycling. In order to find a solution to all these problems the Central Environment Authority brought in a new mechanism to financially and technically support the local authorities to bring about a solution to this health hazardous problem. The CEA plans to include 100 new local authorities in 2012 to control the solid waste management at local levels. "The solid waste management program received additional funds from the Government to implement program this year,” CEA Chairman Charitha Herath said.

“Our aim is to create a waste-free country. The most practical solution to degradable solid waste is to create compost out of it which could be used for agriculture,” he said. Municipal councils should pay more attention to this project and consider it as a top priority, especially since the CEA is assisting the councils to find a substantial solution to waste management. “However, most municipal councils or Pradeshiya Sabhas face issues concerning the purchase of land and space for the proper management of waste collected, as a result of which such priorities tend to be neglected,” he added.

The CEA, under the Pilisaru project implemented a technically advanced garbage recycling project at Rajgama, Galle recently at a cost of Rs. 85 million. This facility serves seven local bodies in the Galle district. “The plant has the capacity to recycle approximately 50 tons of garbage a day,” said N. S. Gamage, Director of the Pilisaru project.

The waste is sorted as degradables and non-degradables. This is done while the garbage is on the conveyor belt and the non degradable waste is removed and collected separately.

The garbage that is moved on the conveyor belt goes to the compost making unit. “The technology we use is called as 'Windro' technique,” Gamage explained. Garbage is laid on a concrete floor of a covered shed. The stacks are two and a half feet tall and are turned once-in-seven days. “This method allows bacteria to grow and decompose the garbage. Maggots are destroyed as the garbage is exposed to sunlight,” Gamage said explaining that chemicals are not used during the compost forming process. “Within 60 days compost is made,” he added.

Finally the compost is sieved and fine powder will be the end product. “With the assistance of the Department of Agriculture we analyse the composition of the compost and ensure that the NPK ratio in this fertiliser is at the required standard. “We will be able to directly assist Government's National Programs like Divi Neguma with high quality natural fertiliser while solving the waste disposal problem,” he explained.

The generation of solid waste is increasing with the increase of population, technological development, and the change in lifestyles. It is vital to highlight the importance of waste reduction, recycling and disposal in an environmentally manner.

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