ZAMBIA, like any other country in the world, has over the years been struggling to collect and dispose wastes generated by the public in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.
Every year, an estimated 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected worldwide while the decay of the organic proportion of solid waste contributes about five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Of all the waste streams, waste from electrical and electronic equipment containing new and complex hazardous substances present the fastest-growing challenge in both developed and developing countries.
Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) director-general John Msimuko feels there is need to create awareness among the public on the importance of sound waste management systems and their effect on human health and the environment.
Mr Msimuko believes that Zambia can effectively address waste management if it builds capacity for the recovery and recycling of various types of waste streams such as plastics, insecticide containers, obsolete pesticide stocks, electrical and electronic equipment.
To encourage private sector participation in waste collection, ZEMA partnered with Lafarge Zambia to launch the Geocycle initiative, which aims to create and maintain a safe environment in the country.
Mr Msimuko said the agency has a huge responsibility of ensuring that appropriate legislation critical in safeguarding the environment is put in place.
He urged various institutions to take environmental matters seriously by building effective systems that are key in the dissemination of information.
This will ensure that communities are informed on the mandate of ZEMA and what is required of them as citizens.
“The public need to be educated with things they interact with and this is the more reason we are highlighting certain practices like the one (Geocycle) with Lafarge,” Mr Msimuko said.
He called on the media to join hands with other stakeholders in championing the eradication of waste and promotion of recycling systems.
Currently, Zambia is implementing the Keep Zambia Clean and Healthy campaign as a way of strengthening information dissemination and awareness creation among the public.
Data by the World Bank states that global waste could grow 70 percent by 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario.
And to help reduce waste, Lafarge Zambia has invested over K15 million in the development of Geocycle, an innovative solution for sustainable waste management.
In 2017, Lafarge Holcims waste management business was launched with the view of promoting sustainable solutions that can help manage stakeholders waste and meet their environmental goals.
Company chief executive officer Jimmy Khan said the initiative aims at providing sustainable waste management solutions to industries, companies, municipalities and the agriculture sector.
To boost the company’s operations, Lafarge Zambia will next year invest about US$250,000.
“So far, over K15 million has been spent on the implementation of the Geocycle initiative.
[This] further affirms our commitment to contributing to sustainable development in the country.
We have done a few investments that will let us take solid waste like plastic and shred it, Mr Khan said.
Similarly, Lafarge Zambia head of Geocycle Cynthia Ndlovu is positive that the company’s waste management solution will help to achieve superior environmental performance to alternative solutions.
Ms Ndlovu explained that in its quest to be effective in the recycle of waste, Lafarge Zambia engaged ZEMA to help champion best practices of disposing of garbage.
She, however, called on Government to put in place policies that will compel producers of goods and services to safely dispose of materials they use in production.
“Geocycle is dedicated to waste management which we are now offering individuals and industries.
We are doing this same initiative around the world and we have seen it work so well.
We believe that it is one way that we can help to reduce the carbon footprint of industries in our environment.
“We are looking forward to doing business with all waste producers so that we can reduce what is going to the landfill.
We believe in a zero-waste future; that is what we are aiming for,” Ms Ndlovu said.
A 2018 national survey on access and usage of information and communications technology services (ICTs) by households and individuals conducted by Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) in partnership with other stakeholders suggests the need to create awareness on the safe disposal of electronic or electric waste, which has remained a challenge in Zambia.
ZICTA is urging institutions such as ZEMA to continue working with other stakeholders to enhance awareness on the dangers of electronic waste as well as the alternative to discard waste.
The report says this may also entail developing more platforms for safe disposal of electronic and electrical waste.
ZICTA feels increased accumulation of electronic and electrical waste from mobile cellular phones, chargers and batteries raises concern on the quality of electronic devices or products available on the market.
More oversight on the adherence to quality standards could enhance the useful life span of devices needed to mitigate the growing challenge, it says.
Indeed, improving waste management systems should be the first step towards building a circular economy, where products are designed for reuse and recycling.
It is unfortunate, that the poorest in society, especially those in townships are often adversely affected by inadequate waste management.
It is, therefore, important for all stakeholders to safeguard the environment as careless dispersal of debris pollutes ecosystems and dangerous substances from electronic waste or industrial garbage puts a strain on the health of urban populaces and the environment.