‘Reducing waste generation, segregation at source crucial in waste management’

October 13, 2018

TEHRAN – While reduction of waste generation and separation of waste at source are the two major processes in waste management, in Iran the focus is mainly on the last phase of waste management which is waste disposal, head of soil and water office at the Department of Environment (DOE) has said.

Disposing waste either in incinerators (burning of waste at high temperature to convert them into heat, flue gas and ash) or burning them in landfills will slow down the path to waste minimization and waste sorting at source, ISNA quoted Ali Moridi as saying on Saturday.

Without technology, waste management practices are nearly impossible and Iran’s economic hardships hindered the adoption of new technologies, so that waste management has become an unresolved problem in Iran, he further noted.

The responsible body for waste management is the Ministry of Interior, and the DOE is the only supervisor in this field, he said, adding, the Ministry’s plans for waste management mainly focuses on burning and composting which are not highly efficient or operational in addition to not being cost effective.

‘Many residents already separate dry and wet wastes at their households, while do not know what to do with it, so the Department of Environment plans to address the issue through startups offering dry waste collection online’Pointing to the DOE’s alternative plan for waste management in the country, he explained that the plan concentrates on waste sorting at source and reduction of waste generation. As the plans must be implemented through materials recovery facilities or mechanical biological treatment systems, not traditional methods of curbside recycling bins, using IT to provide online waste collecting services is among most important programs.

In this regard, the DOE supports startups working on new ideas in waste collection and recycling, he highlighted, adding that currently, many residents separate dry and wet wastes at households, but do not know what to do with it, so that the DOE plans to address the issue through startups offering dry waste collection.

He went on to note that this waste collection method, in addition to providing proper waste management, creates job opportunities and also growth for the small enterprises. 

The companies can design related apps so citizens can send their locations to the company in order to sell their dry wastes, such as paper, glass, plastic or metal cans. If citizens find out the financial, environmental and health benefits of the plan, they will be encouraged to cooperate, Moridi concluded.

According to a report published by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in October 2016, waste generation per capita in Iran’s urban areas is about 658 grams per day while Iranian waste generation per capita in rural areas is about 220-340 grams per day. Average Iranian waste generation per capita amounts to some 240 kilograms per year. 

In Tehran alone waste generation per capita is estimated at 750-800 grams per day and each Tehrani citizen generates about 270-450 kilograms of waste per years.

The report continues that unfortunately only 7 percent of the waste is separated at the source, 13 percent is recycled and only 2.5 percent of them end up in formal or sanitary landfills and some 77.5 percent of the waste will be burnt or buried in informal landfills located in the countryside or deserts near cities.
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