“Why Waste management is crucial for Climate action and COVID-19 crisis” — World Earths Day 2020

The Coronavirus crisis has put the resilience of our society to the test. This health emergency exerts unprecedented pressure on many economic activities, including those that are indispensable to our well-being. Protecting lives and livelihoods is at the core of all actions and decisions to address the crisis at both individual and collective levels.

Proper waste management is part of the essential services to our society. For instance, each person produces nearly half a tonne of municipal waste per year in the EU on average, which means that every week more than 20 kg of municipal waste is generated per household. Greenhouse gasses from waste are also a key contributor to climate change. In 2016, 5% of global emissions were generated from solid waste management, excluding transportation.

“Poorly managed waste is contaminating the world’s oceans, clogging drains and causing flooding, transmitting diseases, increasing respiratory problems from burning, harming animals that consume waste unknowingly, and affecting economic development, such as through tourism,” said Sameh Wahba, World Bank Director for Urban and Territorial Development, Disaster Risk Management and Resilience.

In Nigeria, 50–70% of municipalities lack access to municipal waste management services, leaving gobs of the total generated municipal solid waste lying on the streets, open dumps or drainage ways. Sadly, 90% of collected wastes also end up burnt on state-designated dumps as only 10% is being recycled according to the World Bank What a Waste Report 2.0.

Waste management practices in Nigeria typically transition from storage, disposal, evacuation, transportation to incineration and it is the responsibility of the Local Government Authority. one key problem is the obvious fact that the waste menace wreaks havoc on already vulnerable communities but away from the traditional linear practice, integrated waste management systems that leverage on the concept of the circular economy have the potential to uplift local communities by creating millions of jobs and reducing poverty while adopting cost-effective community-driven recovery options.

240 million tons of plastic are produced every year — with conspicuous effect: Life in the oceans impends to be suffocated by plastic litter while more and more people have to suffer from cancer, infertility and other “civilization” diseases as a result of poisonous ingredients of synthetics.

The human being is not only exposed to toxins due to the consumption of maritime organisms. The usage of poisonous base materials for commodity production is not uncommon.

A first lesson we are drawing from the COVID-19 pandemic and how it relates to climate change is that well-resourced, equitable health systems with a strong and supported health workforce are essential to protect us from health security threats, including climate change. Secondly, the ongoing pandemic illustrates how inequality is a major barrier in ensuring the health and well-being of people, and how social and economic inequality materializes in unequal access to healthcare systems. Third, the global health crisis we find ourselves in has forced us to dramatically change our behaviour in order to protect ourselves and those around us, to a degree most of us have never experienced before. Public health is a political choice. A choice we are now confronted with, and one we will have to make over and over again as we transition to a more resilient, zero-carbon, just and healthier future. Solid waste management is everyone’s business. Worthy of note is that ensuring effective and proper solid waste management is critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, because waste Left unmanaged, dumped or burned, waste harms human health, hurts the environment and climate, and hinders economic growth in poor and rich countries alike.

Written by

Peculiar John