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Firoz Reza

In this article I will emphasize urban Solid Waste Management in the context of Dhaka
city. Solid waste management is considered as one of the most immediate and serious
environmental problems confronting municipal authorities in developing Asian Countries.
Municipal authorities are the only govt. institution to tackle this situation. In the last
decade, however, importance of community involvement in solid waste management and
use of adapted technologies were recognized for improving the solid waste management

Waste is an unavoidable by product of human activities Economic development,
urbanization and improving living standards in cities. Rapid growth of population and
industrialization degrades the urban environment and places serious stress on natural
resources, which undermines equitable and sustainable development. Inefficient
management and disposal of solid waste is an obvious cause of degradation of the
environment in most cities of the developing world. Municipal corporations of the
developing countries are not able to handle increasing quantities of waste, which results
in uncollected waste on roads and in other public places.

Composition of Solid Waste:

Brick, Wood, Metal and Glass, ploythene Shredded Skin and Leather, Paper, Cloth
Hospital Waste, Food waste, Industrial Waste Other Waste

Evolution of Solid Waste Collection Method & Technique:

Below is the historie of Dhaka city waste management system:
1717 Manual night soil collection system
1864 Night soil collection by bullock cart by Dhaka Municipality
1963 Liquid waste collection by DWASA & Dhaka Municipality side by side
1982 Bullock cart system suspended, night soil collection replaced by Septic tank,
introduction of open truck for solid waste collection by Dhaka Municipality.
1989 Introduction of night time waste collection instead of day time collection.
1993 Demountable container introduced along with closed and open truck.
2002 Open truck replaced by covered truck.

Introduction of Dhaka City:

Dhaka City, the Capital City of Bangladesh is one of the most populated City in the
world, ranking 35th, and accumulating approximately 10 millions populations within the
area of 360 sq. km. In addition to this about one million commuters visit the city
everyday in search of their livelihood. The population of Dhaka city has increased rapidly,
with a growth rate of 3.72% per year.
Waste Management in the City:
DCC (Dhaka City Corporation) is the govt. institute headed by city mayor who is an
elected representative of its people. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) a senior level
bureaucrat deputed by Government, is responsible for overall management of five
principal areas of responsibility in DCC, i.e. engineering, conservancy, revenues,
accounts and health. Waste collection and disposal from DCC area is the responsibility of
the Chief Conservancy Officer (CCO) who manages it with the support of a Deputy Chief
Conservancy Officer (DCCO) and 02 Assistant Chief Conservancy Officers (ACO). The
Assistant Conservancy Officers are again assisted by ten Conservancy Officers working in
ten zones with Conservancy Supervisory Inspectors (CSI), Conservancy Inspectors (CI)
and Cleaners. The conservancy department is supported by the transport department
controlling the garbage vehicles and mechanical department for maintenance of vehicles
and equipment used in landfill sites (bulldozers, excavators etc).
Types of Solid Waste
Solid wastes are basically of two types (a) soft wastes or organic wastes, which include
vegetables, fruits, leftover food staff from households, hotels and restaurants, and (b)
hard wastes, such as pieces of wood, metals, glass, plastics and polythene materials,
paper, rubber, cloths and textile factory waste and construction materials.
As is evident from Table 1 food and vegetable wastes comprise 60 percent of all wastes
in Dhaka city, while about 18 percent comprise of plastic, rubber, wood and leathers, 11
percent is paper products, about 9 percent is garden wastes, while rocks, dirt, debris etc.
make 2.3% and metals constitute only 0.15.
Table 1: Composition of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Dhaka City
Components Percent
Food and Vegetables 59.91
Plastic, rubber, wood and lather 17.67
Paper products 11.21
Garden wastes & etc. 8.76
Rock, dirt, debris & Misc 2.3
Metals 0.15
Total 100.00
Source: Huda, 2002

Source of Solid Waste

Interms of sources of solid waste, households account for nearly half of the wastes
generated in the city while markets or commercial centres contribute one-fifth, industrial
waste account for about 24 percent and hospitals and clinic contribute about 7 percent
(Table 2).
Table 2: Total solid waste generation per day (DCC, 2002)
Types Amount Percentage
Residential 1718 49.08
Commercial 722 20.86
Industrial 835 23.86
Hospital and 255 7.29
Total 3500 100.00
Source: Bhuiyan, Huq and Hossain, 2002
Household/Residential Waste:
Household waste is an aggregate of all substance from a household ready for disposal,
which is about 1718 tons /day at a percentage of 49.08 %. These include paper,
vegetable peelings, onion seed coat, broken plastic and festal, spider net, soil and dust,
pieces of thread, animal fasces, grasses, used shoes, pieces of cloth, small bottles, soot,
used car parts, e.t.c. The waste aggregate more frequent and most abundant in the
whole mass of household waste is house sweeping, which is composed of soil and dust
followed by pieces of paper and vegetable peelings. Households which have regular
chatted chewing members have a lot of waste in the form of chat sticks and leaves.

Commercial & Industrial Waste:

There are over 1,000 small and large industries in the Dhaka metropolitan area
generating a significant amount of toxic and hazardous wastes and contributing to
environmental degradation in and around Dhaka City. These industries include
chemicals, textiles, dyeing, printing, tannery, iron and steel, metal, plastic, rubber, and
tobacco. In Dhaka, industry has developed in a background characterized by low labor
costs and ineffective anti-pollution laws. This has resulted in the generation of significant
quantities of industrial waste. Lead, cadmium, and mercury are all widely used in
industry. These materials should be carefully monitored and controlled to avoid pollution
in waste disposal. A total of about 722 tons and 835 tons of Commercial & Industrial
Waste generated per day from Dhaka city.

Hospital Waste:
There are over 500 clinics and hospitals in Dhaka City. Based on a Directorate of Health
inventory, the present average clinical waste generation in hospitals and clinics is
calculated using 1kg/bed/day and an extra 200 kg/year for clinics. It is estimated that
20 percent of the whole hospital wastes (255 tons, 7.29 % of total solid waste generated
per day) generated in the city is infectious and hazardous. Waste is collected from small
bowls (plastic or metal) or plastic bins provided for each bed and emptied into larger
containers. These containers are then conveyed by pushcart to the nearest municipal bin
for dumping. The municipal bins are located either within the hospital itself or nearby
outside. Wastes from operation theaters, laboratories, and kitchens are also dumped into
these municipal bins. Since hospital wastes contain toxic and infectious materials, they
are more dangerous than other types of wastes. In Dhaka, all types of medical wastes,
including syringes and needles, are thrown into the municipal dustbin indiscriminately. It
is therefore quite likely that waste collectors will become infected from these materials.
Moreover, municipal dustbins in Dhaka are usually open. Therefore, the spread of
infectious organisms through various means from hospital wastes can increase the risk
of epidemics of such infectious diseases as hepatitis, typhoid, pneumonia, gangrene, and

Tanning Waste:
Another type of industrial waste is now polluting environment as well as drinkable water
and soil in Dhaka, called Tanning Waste. There are about 149 tanning industries in
Hazaribagh area in Dhaka producing 18,000 liters of liquid wastes and 115 tons of solid
wastes during peak time and 75 tons during off-peak time. Wastes from tanneries
contain sulfuric acid, chromium, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, and calcium
oxides that may seep into the groundwater. Tanning wastes have a very severe impact
on environment in terms of health, welfare, and environment like fever, headaches,
respiratory and skin diseases and may also bring undesirable changes in land use and
fisheries. It has also negative impact on groundwater, surface water, and the ecosystem
in general.

NGO Involvement & Partnership Project‘s Success & Issues in the Past:
In 1995, a local NGO called Waste Concern initiated a small-scale, community-based
organic waste recycling project for composting the municipal solid waste.

Waste Concern’s initiative had three aims:

i) Capture value from the organic portion of Dhaka’s solid waste,
ii) Create job opportunities for the urban poor and
iii) Create business opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
Waste Concern’s activities ware as follows:
i) Plan and design the project, collect wastes from the nearby staff quarters of
DCC, provide collection vans
ii) Install 1 ton capacity compost plant
iii) Conduct training and awareness-raising activities on proper waste separation
and management
iv) Operation and monitoring of the project
v) Market development for the compost
vi) Documentation and information destination in relation to the project benefits
and activities

In January 1996 a local Lions Club (Dhaka North) donated a small piece of vacant
land (1000 square meters) for the composting project. Waste concern’s composting plant
is the first of its kind in Bangladesh. The primary goal is to explore the technical and
commercial feasibility of labor-intensive aerobic composting. The technique is based on
waste reduction and separation of compostable, recyclables, and other wastes. Source-
separated organic wastes are collected from the neighboring community, vegetable
markets and local hotels.
In 1987 another small scale private project was initiated by one Mr. Khurram who with
his friend devised a mechanism to tackle the local waste management situation. He
purchased two old rickshaws and turned them into carriers. With the local community
participation attitude these vans began collecting waste from house to house and
disposing them at community bins. The van rickshaws were fitted with honk and each
van rickshaw was manned by 3 persons. The success of this operation has led to the
formation of numbers of CBOs at different parts of Dhaka city. The experience of the
Kalabagan CBO approach reveals that a house to house collection of domestic waste is
very effective from the viewpoints of cost and environment
(Mohit, 1995)
From January 01, 2002 Sheltech Consultants (Pvt) Ltd. has started a pilot project to
manage the solid waste related problems of Dhanmondi in a precise way along with
assistance of Dhaka City Corporation. The main objective of the project are to relieve
residents of the area from hazard of unmanaged garbage bins to provide door to door
garbage collection by specially designed conservancy vans and disposal in municipal
garbage containers & drain and street cleaning.
Benefits of Partnership-Based Waste Management:
Citizens have since realized that municipal efforts to solve the waste problem are not
sufficient and as such they have started working something on their own initiatives. The
communities have started to organize their own informal waste collection services for
keeping their localities clean. In Dhaka City, more than 170 communities of varying sizes
(less than 50 to more than 300 households) have stared this participatory intervention.
The system has already increased garbage collection coverage by 20 percent of the
generated waste and created approximately 500 jobs and proven to be appropriate for
addressing local problems. Below are few benefits enjoyed for those initiatives:

• A clean and healthier environment for the citizen

• Participatory approach through willingness to pay, raising awareness towards
cleanliness, changing household practices towards throwing wastes from the
windows of apartments
• Labor intensive, indigenous, creation of employment opportunities for the poor
• Enhance social mobility and integrity through participation in different awareness
program (observance of cleanliness campaign days, meetings of welfare
• Create a strong sense of community spirit through formation of a green force from
the members of the community to work as watchdog
• Scope for documentation & dissemination of information regarding the project
benefits and activities to other communities
• Increase institutional competence and capacity through getting hands-on training
in waste management
• Reduce burden on the formal sector, contribute to a reduction in waste disposal
• Reduce health hazards associated with wastes on roadsides, prevents unhygienic
waste picking from communal bins

Problems Encountered In Implementing the Programme:

The initial problems that found when starting to implement the program were-

• Scarcity of land in the area of the community

• Lack of interest shown by the municipal authority in providing valuable land for
• The municipal authority had an impression that micro-level initiatives could not
help to solve the solid waste problem in the city
• The initiatives were not properly received by the municipal authority as they were
afraid than their activities could be undermined
• Municipality was less interested to put any effort into small-scale recycling
• Chemical fertilizer is available to farmers, and as such there had been an absence
of a wider market for organic compost
• Source separated waste is hard to get from the household since the community
has a poor understanding of the composting process
Solutions for Implementation:

• As it is difficult to get land for recycling near the community, entrepreneurs should
be encouraged and enabled to get lease of government land
• Recycling has both tangible and intangible benefits; the intangible benefits should
be quantified or clearly presented to help the municipality understand the
importance of recycling
• Compost should be supplied free of charge initially to community to encourage
their interest in participation
• Source-segregated waste is essential for good quality compost, so households
should be motivated accordingly
• The importance of organic compost should be well demonstrated to farmers by the
Ministry of Agriculture

Lessons Learnt From The Experience:

The following recommendations need to be made for improvement of the collaboration
• Municipal ordinance on waste management should include waste recycling as a
treatment option prior to disposal
• Modification of municipal ordinance is needed to accommodate the inclusion of
• CBOs, and micro enterprises into the main stream of Solid Waste Management
• Public awareness of waste segregation, recycling and reuse should be raised
through public campaigns and media demonstrations through NGOs
• Community-based organizations should be given support to organize co-operatives
and micro enterprises to effectively handle small scale waste recycling
• The Ministry of Agriculture should develop good markets for organic compost
• The Municipality should facilitate innovative, community-based programmes rather
than capital-intensive projects.

Current State and Management of Solid Waste:

One of the most alarming problem of this city is solid waste (Organic and inorganic)
management. The total amount of solid waste generated everyday in DCC area is about
4500 to 5000 tons. According to Mott Macdonald International Ltd report of 1991, waste
stream fraction of Dhaka city is 46.8% domestic, 21.8% street sweeping, 19.2%
commercial, 12.9% industrial and 0.5% clinical. Solid waste flow of a residential area is
58.7% domestic, 33.08% street sweeping, 7.9% commercial and 0.32% clinical (Salam,
2001). Analysis of physical composition of domestic waste show that the primary
component is food waste covering 72.50%, polythene 13.70% (production banned by
now), paper and cardboard 5.63%, and plastic 3.31%. There is a variation of waste
composition between down town and residential area of new parts of Dhaka. Domestic
waste generation rate for residential area is 0.60 kg per person a day (Salam, 2001)
Dhaka City Corporation collects municipal wastes which are accumulated in DCC's bins or
containers. About 7146 cleaners are employed for street sweeping and collection of
waste found in places other than dustbin, road side, open spaces, ditches etc by hand
trolley. It has 2,080 hand trolleys for primary collection of waste. DCC has 128
demountable container carrier trucks for collection of accumulated waste in 414
container and 242 open trucks to collect waste from municipal bins at different locations.
In some residential areas like Kalabagan, Dhanmondi, Banani, Gulshan, Baridhara,
Uttara 'house to house' waste collection service has been organized by some private
initiative. Rickshaw vans are used for collection of waste from houses to municipal
containers. 50% of populations are using waste enclosure or bins, 20% of population
using roads to dispose of waste, 20% of population using drains to dispose of waste and
10% of population using open ground to dispose of waste (MMI, 1992).

Sold Waste management by DCC (Key Points):

• DCC sweeps roads & drains daily.
• Accumulate wastes from roadside.
• Cleaners collect & transfer to the nearest dustbin/container.
• DCC’s truck dump to the dumping depots.
• Dressing by bulldozers, tire dozers, pay loaders & excavators.

DCC’s Drawback in the service of Solid Waste:

DCC, which is responsible for collection, transportation, and disposal of solid waste in
Dhaka City, is providing a very low level of conservancy service. DCC has 5,200
conservancy and 135 supervisory staff for the solid waste management. 378 garbage
trucks (1.5-5 ton capacity), 104 demountable trucks, 3,000 hand carts, 5,200 cleaners,
and a budget of about Tk90 million, DCC provide a highly unsatisfactory conservancy
service. Below points are considered as the main bottlenecks of solid waste management
in DCC:
• Negligence of duties and non-accountability.
• Bureaucratic red tape – Reporting system from Sweepers and cleaners up to the
chief conservancy officer, who is responsible to the mayor.
• Lack of supervision.
• Lack of coordination.

• Institutional strengthening
• Capacity building: Training to the Conservancy department personnel to manage
scientifically the solid waste management issues.
• Gradual privatize solid waste management (collection, transportation and
• Landfill design and management
• Formulate the policy for community-based program, local initiative, NGO- small
enterprise initiative.
• Waste reduction and recycling project.
• Preparation of legislation, (by laws, rules, regulations)
• Exchange of information
• Public awareness program
• Assistance for sustainable solid waste management through generation of
electricity, gas, fertilizer, ceramic product etc.
Dhaka takes some pride to be known as one of the megacities of the world but feels
embarrassed when it is introduced as a city of the poor and city of multifarious problems.
Managing its solid waste has been one of the more critical problems faced by the city.
Solid waste management system in the city is very ill organized and inefficient.
Traditionally, the City Corporation has been the organization solely responsible for
collection, removal and disposal of the solid waste. But the city’s capacity and efficiency
only allowed collection of around 50 percent of the waste, the rest being forgotten or
allowed to be taken care of by informal sector waste pickers and others. However, at all
stages of the solid waste management process, the poor of the city have been closely
involved and that so in large numbers. On the other hand, the poor as citizens receive
only marginal service from either the city authority.
The intervention of some donor agencies and NGOs have somewhat improved the waste
service in low income settlements. It has been found that the success of a community-
based program depends largely on identifying and addressing the community’s needs
while sustainability of the project depends on involving them in the cost-recovery/cost
sharing process. Community based projects have demonstration effect. NGOs can play
an important role in initiating, demonstrating new concepts, providing technical know-
how and providing training to others. Small-scale compost plant can be located within
the community provided appropriate scientific composting method is followed.
Decentralized compost plant is commercially viable as seen from the Mirpur experience.
It has been found that women from informal sector are interested to work in the
composting plant which is socially acceptable. Initially, marketing of compost was a
major problem. This problem was solved involving the private specialized fertilizer
marketing companies (experienced and already having extensive network all over
Bangladesh). Press has played a positive role in disseminating the project activity in
Bangladesh. Apart from media, Government has to make necessary policy conducive to
marketing of compost. Based on the evidence gathered so far by the pilot project of
Waste Concern, it appears that this type of micro-enterprise can be replicated elsewhere
in Bangladesh as well as in other Asian Countries.
During implementation of Dhanmondhi project it has been found by SCPL that a large
number of residences are not aware of health hazard and solid waste related problems.
Many households are not taking the project service rather dispose of garbage in near by
open spaces. Therefore, it is important to launch a long-term awareness building and
campaigning programme in the area so that people get motivated about enhancing own
environmental conditions and participate in the pilot project willingly. Awareness building
programme can be launched in other areas of the city to motivate people about
cleanliness and personal hygiene.
Recently NGOs/CBOs have also become involved in SWM in middle class and upper class
residential areas. Their work started as supplementary to DCC’s SWM service, but to
some extent they are seen to be replacing DCC responsibility. Often, their services are
also not of satisfactory level. As of now, SWM in Dhaka can at best be described as
All these issues have led DCC to undertake a new project entitled “Clean Dhaka, Green
Dhaka” jointly with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) by 2005 with
the objective of preparing a Master Plan for SWM in Dhaka City. With the financial aid
and technical help by JICA & the govt. of Japan a 10 years long plan for solid waste
management initiative has been taken. Already a part of this initiative has been
implemented. Open dustbin and open truck to carry waste has been replaced by a
environment friendly COMPACTOR TRUCK. These truck is carrying waste two times in a
day. Local concerns are collecting waste from houses to municipal container and DCC’s
Compactor truck is carrying those collected waste to selected sanitary landfill. About 14
places have been selected primarily to collect waste by Compactor truck. In future all
area of DCC will be included for this program. Program Director Dr. Tariq Bin Yusuf
informed that DCC has been purchased 100 cars from Japan to successfully implement
this program. In these 100 cars there are 20 Amrol container truck, 45 CNG Container
and 35 Compactor Truck. All these cars are engaged in moving solid waste from
Kawranbazar, Fakirapul, Lalmatia, Palton, Dhanmondi, AGB coloni, Mirpur, Lalbagh,
Adabor area.
It is hoped that a sustainable system will be devised with adequate role in it for the
urban poor. It should also extend delivery of waste removal service to the urban poor
The task is daunting but can not be sidetracked.

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