Municipal solid waste is generally a type of waste consisting of everyday items discarded by the public excluding agricultural waste, industrial waste, medicinal waste etc. MSW is known by different names in different regions e.g. in the United States it is known as “TRASH” and “GARBAGE” while known as “REFUSE” and “RUBBISH” in Great Britain.
Lahore is 2nd largest metropolitan of Pakistan, the provincial capital of Punjab with more than 11 million individuals over an area of 1772 km2. About 5000-6000 tons of waste is produced daily in Lahore and only 60-65% is collected, and reaming 35-40% is left unhandled.
Characterization of MSW is the first step towards integrated waste management. It helps by giving information about which type of waste is being discarded and in which proportion and It also helps policymakers to design newer and effective policies for better waste management. In waste characterization Generation Rate, Composition, Density, Moisture content, Loss of mass on ignition and Calorific value are mainly focused.
Composition of MSW changes from municipality to municipality and time to time. Globally, MSW contains 38.1% paper, 13.4%-yard waste, 10.4% plastics, 9.4% food waste, 7.7% metals, 5.9% wood, 5.2% glass and 9.9% other materials.In Lahore MSW contains 72.76% biodegradable waste, 5.58% nylon, 5.35% diapers, 4.71% textile, 3.83% combustible material, 3.42% non-combustible material, 2.34% paper & cardboard, 0.77% tetra packs, 0.45% plastics, 0.43% glass, 0.18% hazardous waste, 0.08% pet, 0.05% electronic waste and 0.04% metals.
Social and economic factors also influence the composition because of difference in lifestyle, waste production etc. Low-income areas mainly contain a higher proportion of biodegradable waste while higher income area contains a higher proportion of biodegradable waste, diapers, pet, packaging material etc.
In order to properly manage MSW, all stockholders must perform their duties in an effective manner. We must change our lifestyle. We must adopt 3R’s as best solution for effective management of MSW. We must use reusable bags instead of using single use plastic bags. We must avoid individually wrapped items at the store and promote recyclable materials. We must consider composting scraps and food waste rather than throwing it away. Zero waste policy is an effective approach to tackle solid waste problems and it must be implemented in educational institutions, industries, government and private office. Government and other institutions associated with waste management e.g. LWMC, Albayrak, Ozpak etc. must improve their strategy of waste collection by increasing institutional capacity, joining hands with NGO’s working on the ground, this will help is increasing ratio of collected waste. The government must focus on providing plastic bags for effective waste collection. Multimedia (electronic and press) ads and training seminars are effective approached to indulge targeted audience to aware people regarding proper waste management.