Sustainable municipal waste management and resource recovery

Inception Workshop for Local Authorities for a Sustainable Sri Lanka

Municipal Waste Management (MSW) is causing key social, environmental, and economic concerns in Sri Lanka. The country produces 7,000 tonnes of solid waste per day, with only half being collected as municipal waste according to the Waste Management Division of the Central Environmental Authority. Overall, 85% of waste generated is estimated to be disposed of inappropriately, mainly through indiscriminate open dumping and burning giving rise to health and environmental impacts.

The Western Province alone generates more than 59% (approximately 4,200 tonnes) of solid waste with a high degree of biodegradability. With trends in urbanization and rapid population growth, municipal waste generation is expected to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025. As such, transitioning from a traditional unsustainable system to sustainable waste management is a key necessity. Controlling the generation, storage, collection, transportation, processing and disposal of solid waste materials in a manner that best addresses the range of public health, conservation, economic, aesthetic, engineering, and other environmental considerations is a requirement for Sri Lanka. Therefore, as the country makes headway in its green recovery, it is crucial to build measures to introduce sustainable waste management options for Local Authorities (LAs).

Speaking on the topic at the inception workshop on Scaling up Sustainable and Low-Carbon Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery in Sri Lanka held recently, Mr M. M. P. K. Mayadunne, Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government noted, “Finding a practical and a long-term solution to Municipal Solid Waste Management is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders. As Local Authorities are on the frontlines of Municipal Solid Waste Management, supporting Local Authorities to come up with a sustainable system with public-private partnerships to control waste generation and final disposal is crucial”.

In line with this, together with the Ministry of Environment in Sri Lanka, the Government of the Republic of Korea, and the Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka is scaling up efforts to utilize best available technologies to improve Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM), support other waste related value chains and strengthen the capacity of women-led micro and small enterprises to engage in resource recovery initiatives in Sri Lanka.

Speaking on Korea’s expertise, Ms. Bohae Na, Programme Coordinator and Associate Researcher, KEITI noted, “It is a pleasure to work with Sri Lanka and UNDP in scaling up Municipal Waste management systems in Sri Lanka and we believe Korea’s technological and knowledge transfer and expertise will be a great asset in developing the sustainability of Sri Lanka’s Waste Management Sector”.

Addressing the gathering, Ms. Malin Herwig, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka highlighted, “The Republic of Korea is renowned for its world-class solid waste management systems, waste reduction and waste diversion from landfills. Therefore, through this partnership with the Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute, Sri Lanka will indeed benefit from knowledge exchange and technology transfer in appropriate commercialized municipal solid waste management systems in the local context”.

Through this initiative, UNDP and KEITI have reached out to Korean technology providers and experts to provide valuable input and guidance on the available commercialized municipal solid waste management technologies. The project will support Sri Lanka to meet its MSWM targets of the National Development Agenda and waste sector Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by implementing locally relevant comprehensive and sustainable MSWM solutions.

Mr. Mahinda Werahera, Director, of the Environment Pollution Control and Chemical Management Division, Ministry of Environment noted, Although Municipal Solid Waste Management in Sri Lanka is recognized as a national development priority, finding sustainable solutions for this issue has been extremely challenging. Therefore, through this initiative, we hope to work closely with Korean experts in finding economically feasible and socially acceptable solutions for Municipal Solid Waste Management in Sri Lanka”.

The project aims to reduce health and safety concerns to the people and wildlife, damage to the natural environment, Greenhouse Gas emissions and other forms of pollution, and waste management burden to the LAs. It will also stimulate private sector investment for low carbon development, and engagement of small enterprises in green resource recovery value chains and promote green jobs.

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