Constraints to organised recycling in developing countries : a case study of Gaborone, Botswana
The continued growth of waste generation rates and the general concern for its impact on the natural environmental have resulted in a search for solutions to contain the problem before it spirals out of control. One such solution is organised recycling, the practice whereby municipalities require waste generators to set aside post-consumer materials so that they do not enter the mixed waste for collection and delivery to the markets. The practice is popular in developed countries, with municipalities engaging in household waste source separation schemes to meet statutory targets set by higher authorities. In developing countries too, NGOs, municipalities and national governments have started to include source separation in waste management policy and legislation. But this approach will present a new set of challenges to municipalities and waste generators alike, particularly when it is not preceded by a proper analysis of practical constraints on the ground. The purpose of this research is to develop workable recycling guidelines for cities in developing countries with similar characteristics to Gaborone from analysis of such constraints. The study began as an exploratory research process that evolved into a case study. A cross-sectional survey methodology was used including survey techniques such as waste characterisation sampling surveys for household and commercial waste, questionnaire-based interview surveys, semi-structured interviews with key informants representing stakeholders, and market survey for post-consumer materials. The research is directed by the hypothesis that: Despite the projection of organised recycling as an effective means to enhance waste recycling, its practicality as a waste management strategy in developing countries is constrained by the realities on the ground. The research found that, the major constraints to organised recycling are lack of practical official support for recycling, failure of public awareness to translate into participation in recycling initiatives, the attitude of municipal officials that favours maintenance of the status quo and relatively high recovery rates achieved by the existing recycling initiatives. The research concludes that under the prevailing conditions, it would not be practical to organise recycling schemes in the format used in developed countries and proposes guidelines that lake into consideration the established constraints.