Waste recycling: Creating clean environment

ONE of the bio-fuel powered buses in Vaasa, Finland.

VIOLET MENGO, Vaasa, Finland
AT A time when waste management has evolved as a major challenge in urban cities across the country, the Manja Pamodzi initiative is doing its bit to ensure a clean environment.
The initiative- a post-consumer waste clean-up project aims to create a clean environment and empowers local communities.
Using local community members to clean up the city by collecting polythene bottles, card boxes and other materials, the project is boosting waste recycling efforts in Lusaka.
The Manja Pamodzi initiative is helping to clean up packaging waste in Lusaka, thereby improving sanitation and hygiene.
Established by Zambian Breweries, National Breweries and Heinrich Syndicate, the Manja Pamodzi project was launched in 2015.
It supports a network of waste collectors and aggregators, hence generating enterprises and alleviating poverty in the communities.
The project which is implemented in partnership with the Lusaka City Council (LCC) and Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), runs in more than 10 townships with a network of more than 450 collectors.
In making the city clean, the Manja Pamodzi project is designed to empower community members to use litter as an income venture.
Waste collectors gather polythene bottles, cardboards and other recyclable materials from target areas in their communities.
These are identified through environmental education and sensitisation drives with a bias towards recycling.
Aggregators, thereafter, buy the materials in bulk and process the discarded materials into bundles that are then sold to recycling companies to be processed into useable materials such as tissues and egg trays.
Although the initiative is run on a small scale in targeted areas of Lusaka, if scaled up, it could to some degree alleviate the challenges of waste management in Zambia.
According to the Waste Management Unit (WMU), the city of Lusaka generates over a million tonnes of waste annually, but only half of the waste ends up at the designated dumpsite.
The LCC has for many years been struggling to manage the waste generated in the city due to various reasons including budgetary constraints.
While the Manja Pamodzi project is trying its bit, waste management as a whole is still a huge challenge for Zambia and calls for urgent action.
The insufficient capacity and lack of equipment for local authorities across the country to deal with waste collection, transportation constraints, are some of the challenges Zambia faces in waste management.
Perhaps, lessons could be drawn from the city of Vaasa in Finland, whose waste management is a marvel.
A visit to Stormossen in Vaasa through the support of Finish Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that with proper management and collaboration among key stakeholders, waste management can bring forth benefits.
Stormossen is a regional waste management company owned by six municipalities with a total collection area of over 100,000 residents.
The company was founded in 1985 and currently has 40 employees with a turnover of €15 million as of 2016. Its recycling rate is 98 percent.
Stormossen’s responsibility is to take care of domestic waste, public waste and waste from healthcare facilities.
It combines a cost-effective waste management system with a high level of service, while remaining compatible with sustainable development.
To reduce the amount of waste and its effects, local people are encouraged to buy fewer things and also choose environmental friendly products.
They are also encouraged to reuse their products by either giving away or buying second-hand ones.
Reuse principles are based on taking a used product or material and use it for new purposes without making any major changes in the design or choice of materials.
Stormossen, chief executive officer, Leif Akers said reusing is the most environmentally sound method to handle used products, and is given priority in most cases.
“If reuse is not suitable for a product, then recycling is the next priority of method. It is done by collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products that can benefit community and the environment,” Mr Akers said.
He said recycling is done by sorting the waste correctly.
Mr Akers said Stormossen recycles metal, glass and batteries into new products, thereby ensuring that the environment is not polluted.
Combustible types of waste that are not suitable for recycling as material are recycled as energy.
The bulk of the fuel is combustible waste from households and residues from the industry.
Waste that cannot be recycled or energy recovered is transported to the landfill.
The above processes are done systematically with every employee knowing exactly what their roles are in the whole management process of waste.
Here, very little waste ends up at the landfill, unlike the situation in Zambia where the landfill takes everything.
Stormossen regional waste management company is the first firm in Finland to create biogas from biowaste.
The Stormossen Biogas Plant produces biogas and decomposed humus material out of the biodegradable organic waste.
Today, the city has biogas powered buses operating the streets of Vaasa through a project that took 10 years.
The company is one of the Finnish leaders in biogas production and recycling in general with a 98 percent recycling rate of the municipal waste.
“stakeholders work to ensure a cleaner, more pleasant local environment, combined with an easily accessible waste-collection service, create value for the people, businesses and communities in our area – now and in the future”.
While Zambia continues to seek better ways of solid waste management, Vaasa is one city the country can learn from.

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