[Climate Scouts X GGGI] How GGGI can contribute to Solid Waste Management

How GGGI can contribute to Solid Waste Management

Park, Jinah
The 3rd Climate Scouts

On the October 5th, I visited Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) headquarter office with Climate Scouts members from Coalition for Our Common Future (COCF). GGGI is an international organization which aims to achieve green growth that Korean government played key role in launching back in 2010. Thanks to the COCF Climate Scouts X GGGI Project, we had a good chance to look around GGGI office as well as their actual projects including internship program.

GGGI aims to achieve resilient world of strong, inclusive, and sustainable growth. It was founded on the belief that economic growth and environmental sustainability are not merely compatible objective; their integration is essential for the future of human kind. So, its member countries are moving toward ‘green growth’; economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. Those are three pillars for green growth: economic growth, environmentally sustainable, and socially inclusive.

To achieve and implement green growth policy, GGGI cooperates with member countries’ government. Since, every country has their own policy and different political background. According to GGGI, it mainly focuses on ‘how to add value to existing policies/systems. GGGI assesses sectoral green impact and guide designing the strategy and planning and even propose projects mainly about energy, water, land-use, green city development and help implementing them. GGGI has been investing several projects such as electric transportation in Amma, Jordan, solar home systems in off-grid Vanuatu, Peatland restoration in Indonesia, decentralized sanitation in Laos, and waste management at Kampala, Uganda and Vientiane, Lao P.D.R.

As a nursing student, I have done training at hospitals several times. At hospitals, medical staffs cannot re-use medical instruments due to the risks of infection and contamination. Therefore, they usually throw them away even without proper recycling process. So, I felt that there is a need to improve waste management system especially at the hospitals. At the same time, I found the report from World Bank titled as 「What a Waste 2.0」 and also learnt that GGGI has been working on waste management system. It gave me more information about it and made me think that global society is also paying attention on waste management process.

That is why I am going to draw attention to solid waste management issue.

According to the World Bank report (2018), global waste will increase by 70% (would be 3.4billion tonners) by 2050 because of rapid urbanization, population growth, and economic development. If you look at the regional landscape, waste generation in sub Saharan African countries would be more than triple from current levels by 2050 and double for Asia. However, what is more important to have is designing and well implemented waste management system.

Especially in most developing countries, only half of urban waste and quarter of rural waste are managed. In total, more than 90% of waste are mismanaged like dumped or burnt and only 4% is recycled in developing countries.

When it comes to waste management, urban waste management could be more efficient. According to the research by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), more than half of the world population are living in urban area. The importance of cities to national and global development has been increasingly recognized through a number of global commitments, notably Sustainable Development Goal 11, ‘Sustainable cities and communities’, which explicitly targets to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Therefore, I strongly believe we should not neglect the impact of urbanization to climate change issues. Cities consume 70% of global energy and produce between 60% and 80% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and needless to say, it is a major source of waste. Therefore, GGGI’s efforts are focused on managing urban waste through waste to-resource strategies and valorization of waste systems. By doing so, GGGI aims to increase access to waste collection(collect-and-dispose) services and waste-to-resource technology (and by doing so, those system can generate green jobs) for the urban residents in informal settlements. GGGI’s emphasis supports landfill diversion, thus reducing harmful methane emissions

Poorly managed waste is contaminating the oceans, clogging drains and causing flooding, transmitting diseases, increasing respiratory problems. Additionally, it also harm animals that consume waste unknowingly. For example, many turtles and sea birds eat plastic because they think plastic is prey. Also, if wastes are just dumped without proper management process, it would harm nature.

So, it seems wise for countries to make waste management system in a more sustainable way. 1.6 billion tons of CO2 were generated from the treatment and disposal of waste in 2016, which accounts for 5% of global emissions. And if we do not take actions now, CO2 emission will reach 2.6 billion by 2050. Generally, waste management is run by local government and 70% countries has their own policy.

Considering the amount of CO2 emissions from waste and increasing waste and urbanization, the impact of mismanaged waste is connected to every environmental issue from global warming to ecosystem. So, I think it is worth to look into how GGGI can contribute to improve the waste management. Through waste management GGGI targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and focus on pro-poor livelihood support and job creation in service provision. So, I think it is safe to say that GGGI aims to achieve not only sustainable environment, but also economic growth (job creation) in socially inclusive way.

In case of Vientiane, Lao, Vientiane City Office for Management and Service (VOCOMS) is responsible for solid waste management. It oversees the collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste generated in Vientiane. However, there are several obstacles to managing waste: the high collection fees charged by VCOMS, and the low accessibility of certain areas by waste collection trucks (especially in low income areas), and also lower awareness among the public in general. There are no policies or regulations, either at the national or city level, in support of waste-to-resource approaches or the principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3R). Moreover, the major policy barrier that could hinder the deployment of waste-to-resource approaches is the restriction of using compost produced from municipal solid waste in agricultural crops.

So, GGGI and VCOMSs discussed a number of potential interventions within the areas for the adoption of waste-to-resource opportunities. As an outcome, GGGI’s Green Cities Thematic Unit and Laos Country Team shortlisted the following opportunities as those with the highest impact potential in the Vientiane context: 1. Distribution of home composting units
2. Decentralized waste composting facilities, 3. Decentralized secondary waste collection points with the participation of micro-enterprises, 4. Community-driven waste banks with the organization of waste pickers cooperatives.
To move forward, it is recommended that lessons learned from projects implemented by other international organizations in Lao PDR can be properly studied and understood and that can amplify the synergies with other sectors such as wastewater treatment and fecal sludge management.

It is no exaggeration to say that the earth is stuck in waste. There are trash islands at Pacific oceans and it is dangerous for the lives under water and eventually to human beings. Although we all contribute generating enormous amount of trash but only a few cares about its management and process. Even I do not exactly know how the wastes are treated. The ignorance and indifference lead to increasing amount of waste and illegal management.

As an individual, first of all, we all need to pay attention to waste management and need to take action to reduce waste by taking 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle). At the same time, policies need to be designed to enforce waste management more systematically. Individual needs to perform a key role for watching how government is dealing with waste problem and how policy/bill is made and run. By doing so, I believe, we can reduce the amount of unnecessary waste generated by our daily habits.

<Reference>
1. 「GGGI Refreshed Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020: Accelerating the Transition to a New Model of Growth」, 2017, GGGI
2. 「WHAT A WASTE 2.0: A global snapshot of solid waste management to 2050」,2018, Silpa Kaza and 3, WORLD BANK GROUP
3. 「Solid waste management in Vientiane, Lao P.D.R: situation assessment and opportunities for waste-to-resource」
4. United Nations Development Programme http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-11-sustainable-cities-and-communities.html