By MacPherson Mukuka in Lusaka
This is according to a global analysis, 2016 annual report.
All this was as a result of the effects of climate change.
Climate change usually refers to any change in weather over time, whether due to natural inconsistency or as a result of human activity.
The Earth’s atmosphere contains many types of gases, including those known as “greenhouse gases” which hold in the sun’s warmth.
The causes of Climate change are not specific, but research has shown that various factors are at play, among them solid waste management.
This has even attracted the attention of international treaties such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) of the Kyoto protocol.
The agreement indicates that there is a great potential for addressing methane emissions by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill.
Zambia national climate change secretariat Environmental and Social Inclusion Manger Carol Zulu, explains that Zambia has made strides in reducing the emission.
Mrs. Zulu says apart from the Kyoto protocol, Zambia is also a part to the Bamako convention among others.
She said the country has so far made progress in formulating policies on waste management that will help reduce climate change impacts.
“The solid waste management industry could have an impact on climate change, and given the operational time frame for many waste management sites, there is a need to examine whether the issues that arise are of such significance that policy or operational changes are required.” She said.
She said current waste management methods, specifically emissions from landfill, account for almost five per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions and 12 per cent of the world’s emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with an impact more than 20 times that of carbon dioxide.
Mrs. ZULU has however, indicated that more still needs to be done especially where solid waste management is concerned.
And the Zambia Environmental Management Agency ZEMA says a foundation of sustainable development towards the solid waste challenge is the creation of affordable, effective and truly viable waste management practices in the country.
ZEMA Manager of Planning and Research MWICHE KABWE says when solid waste is used as a landfill, many toxins are administered to the soil and potable water.
She says this may result in the toxins contaminate the soil and take a toll on the living souls of this planet such as natural vegetation.
“The pollutants may even escape into the atmosphere from the soil which acts as one of the major reasons of the climate change problem.” She said.
She says such a process has a devastating effect on the atmosphere.
Globally nearly 70% of solid waste is landfilled, a meagre 19% is recovered through composting or recycling, the remaining 11% is converted to energy through incineration or other waste-to-energy technologies.
In a developing country like Zambia with increasing population, poverty and urbanization, it remains a major challenge for the local authorities to collect, recycle, treat and dispose off increasing quantities of waste, especially in a changing climate.
And Lusaka City Council Public Relation Manager HABEENZU MULUNDA says the City still faces a number of challenges when it comes to effective collection, recycling or disposing off of waste.
He says the situation is so because some sections of society have opted to forego right procedures in disposing off solid waste by disposing of the waste indiscriminately.
“At transfer points, waste is loaded directly into large skip bin container vehicles and transferred by road to the dump site.” Said Mr. MULUNDA.
Mr. MULUNDA says waste transfer stations are also located along the streets, while the dump site in Lusaka commonly referred to as Malabo is far away from the city center.
He says the environmental impacts commonly cited are: stench, dust, bio-aerosols, noise and surface water pollution and surface water runoff management.
The Zambia Institute of Environmental health is alive to the indiscriminate disposal of waste and incineration.
ZIEH Secretary General EDGAR MULWANDA says most manufacturing industries and health institutions; solid waste generation is a common practice.
He says on a daily basis the institutions have to deal with portions of materials containing plastic and sometimes PVC which in most cases is incinerated as a means of disposing it off, and making products respectively.
“When solid waste is burnt, not only does it lose all its recyclability or the opportunity of extracting any raw materials from it, but also it emits dangerous elements such as lead, mercury and cadmium directly into the atmosphere and ashes.” He said.
Mr. MULWANDA says this easily accumulate everywhere on the planet and eventually end up entering into the food chain.
Mr. MULWANDA adds that when products containing plastics and PVC are burnt, they cause harmful dioxides to enter the atmosphere causing many health problems and ultimately climate change.
“In order for people to make a difference in the amount of waste produced and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their consumption, there is need for people to make smart choices about what they buy, use, and how they dispose it off.” He said.