Photo : Collected
Garbage disposal primarily relies on trucks stopping near dustbins, where manual labour loads the garbage for eventual dumping at poorly managed landfills. Some of these landfills are currently located within metropolitan areas – thereby posing serious environmental concerns for residents. Moreover, these landfills, in name only, do not contribute to sustainable land formation.
Garbage disposal in Dhaka, a city with a population exceeding 16 million, remains outdated and highly inefficient. An estimated 5,000 tons of domestic waste are generated daily, with an annual production of around 9.7 million tons of solid waste. These staggering figures highlight the significant challenges faced by the city in managing garbage efficiently on a daily basis.
International best practices advocate for sorting and utilizing garbage, including recycling. Advanced garbage management entails categorizing waste and producing commercial products from it. For instance, biodegradable waste, like kitchen refuse, can be used to create organic compost for chemical-free farming, while other materials like tin, rubber, and plastics can be recycled to produce valuable products.
Critical to effective garbage management is preventing stockpiling; instead, collected waste should go directly into recycling or production processes, transforming into new usable products. This approach helps maintain a clean environment by avoiding the accumulation of garbage.
Establishing a modern garbage disposal system for Dhaka, with recycling and reuse at its core, is essential to replace the current inefficient system and prepare for future challenges. The
Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) had previously entered into an agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to set up a modern garbage recycling plant. However, progress on this project is hindered by bureaucratic delays and vested interest groups favoring the existing disposal methods. Overcoming these hurdles is crucial for the government to introduce a modern garbage management system promptly.
While the prospect of a recycling plant is promising, the DCC can take immediate steps to bring order to garbage disposal. Despite the recycling plant’s expected completion in several years, the DCC should enhance the efficiency of its garbage clearance squads. The current challenges, such as insufficient manpower and vehicles, are often attributed to apathy and corruption, issues that demand a thorough examination and prompt action from DCC authorities.
Many cities globally, especially capital cities, initiate garbage clearance late at night when traffic is minimal. Covered vans are mandatory for transporting garbage, and roads are regularly swept and washed, ensuring a clean environment by the early morning. Implementing a similar system in Dhaka is not only feasible, but also cost-effective.