Solid Waste Management

The problem of waste management is a primordial and present issue in developing countries in Africa, particularly Nigeria. Municipal waste management problems in Nigeria cut across concerns for human health, air, water, and land pollution among others. The analysis of the key problem affecting the efficient management of municipal waste is critical for evolving a workable solution in an emerging economy like Nigeria.

The continuous indiscriminate disposal of municipal solid waste is accelerating and is linked to poverty, poor governance, urbanization, population growth, poor standards of living, and low level of environmental awareness and inadequate management of environmental knowledge. Most of these wastes are generated from domestic sources and are mostly characteristics of household waste. The persisting problems of municipal waste management in Nigeria prompt the need for communicating innovations and knowledge to achieve desire transformation in overcoming socio-economic and environmental challenges.

Nigeria is losing billions of naira as a result improper management of e-waste.


Existing Waste Management Processes and Practices in Nigeria

Municipal waste management is the collective process of sorting, storage, collection, transportation, processing, resource recovering, recycling and disposal of waste. In Nigeria, wastes are usually dumped on roadsides, available open pits, flowing gully water and drainage channels. The indiscriminate disposal of municipal waste is increasingly a prominent habit in most urban cities of Nigeria.

Unlike urban cities, in rural communities municipal solid waste quantity are less and managed in household backyards by burning, composting, as feeds to animals and occasionally disposed at dump sites. In Nigeria the processes involved in the management of waste are, storage, collection, transportation and disposal at dumpsites.

There are different techniques of municipal solid waste disposal but the common techniques are landfill, incineration, composting and anaerobic digestion and recycling. Although presently in Nigeria the prominently practiced municipal waste management technique is open dumping, land fill, followed by open burning while incineration method is seldom put to practice. Incineration is a cost-effective municipal waste disposal option which is seldom applied in Nigeria hospitals where medical waste are incinerated at a minimal scale.

The cheapest and simplest method of waste disposal is landfill. The resulting environmental impact of landfills is enormous but could be mitigated provided sanitary precautions are undertaken and waste reduction is advocated. Landfills were responsible for 49% of England’s methane emissions in 2007. Moreover, recycling which is an environmentally friendly option is not fully adopted. There are no formal recycling sectors in Nigeria. Waste are recycled informally by scavengers who buy un-use valuables from people and also go to legal and illegal dumpsites in search of materials that than can be re-use and recycled.

Municipal Solid Waste Generation

25 million tonnes of municipal solid waste are generated annually in Nigeria and the waste generation rates ranged from 0.66kg/cap/d in urban areas to 0.44kg/cap/d in rural areas as opposed to 0.7-1.8kg/cap/day in developed countries. There is a continuous increase of municipal solid waste production by households, educational institutions, commercial institutions, and among others.