Promoting social and economic inclusion for informal waste management communities
(SDG 10 – Reduce inequality within and among countries)
Waste management contributes to achieving economic and social integration in developing countries and reduces inequalities.
In many developing countries, it is divided into two main systems namely the formal and informal systems, each of them affects the economic growth processes to varying degrees. Therefore, the merger between the formal and informal SWM sectors will support the reduction of social and economic inequalities for all.
Solid waste management (SWM) to enhance the quality of life
(SDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable)
According to the United Nations, there were 2 billion people without access to waste collection services globally and 3 billion people who lacked controlled waste disposal facilities according to data collected between 2010 and 2018.6
This indicates a lack of quality of life for cities and the sustainability of local communities. Certainly, good waste management practices like waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and exploitation in generating energy or safe disposal of it are essential for sustainable city management and improvement in quality of life.
SWM and “sustainable consumption and production patterns”
(SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns)
This calls for an efficient management of our shared natural resources, and the way we dispose of toxic waste and pollutants. Introducing Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) which refers to concepts that reduce production and control consumption patterns, such as moving towards the circular economy model based on recycling of materials and converting useful waste into resources. That supports the use of fewer natural resources in manufacturing processes. It can also be said that adopting the concept of extended producer responsibility which requires companies to collect and recycle the waste generated from their products is one of the applications of the green circular economy concept.
Solid waste disposal and climate change measures
(SDG 13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts)
According to the World Bank, the world generates 2.01 billion tons of solid waste annually, and at least 33% of it is not managed in an environmentally safe manner. Without improvements in this sector, emissions related to solid waste will probably increase to 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050. 7
Greenhouse gases such as methane emitted from solid waste are a major factor in air pollution and climate change. In 2016, 5% of global emissions were generated from solid waste.8
This calls for the need to improve solid waste disposal in most parts of the world, as the safe disposal and the reduction of open burning of garbage are one of the most important climate change-related measures.
SWM to “conserve the oceans, seas, and marine resources”
(SDG 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, sea and marine resources for sustainable development)
According to UNDP, we hope to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution by Year 2025. However, we are now facing plastic waste as one of the biggest threats to the oceans. Global production of plastic reached more than 300 million tons in 2014. Much of this plastic has ended up in the oceans, where plastic waste accounts for 90% of marine debris, damaging wildlife and harming marine ecosystems.8 The environmentally sound management of solid waste and its safe disposal, especially plastics, can certainly reduce damage to the oceans.
SWM impacts land ecosystems
(SDG 15 – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss)
Preserving the earth’s ecosystem means we have to safely dispose of the solid waste we produce. An integrated and sustainable waste management system from the source that includes the concepts of the 5Rs (refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle) in addition to a circular economy model, are widely accepted approaches moving forward.
Reducing waste production reduces the need for land utilized for waste disposal. This reduces the harsh impacts of untreated waste on soil, water and air.
Integrated SWM and institutional building strengthening
(SDG 16 – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels)
Delegating and sharing responsibilities between central governments and local administrations, in addition to partnerships with the private sector, civil society organisations and others in the system will ensure that decisions are made in a manner that is responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative at all levels.
Many developing countries have turned towards decentralisation and are adopting an integrated solid waste management system in order to improve efficiency, protect local interests, strengthen participation of its populations and ensure the availability of resources needed for the success of SWM programs and projects.
Partnerships between different parties and sectors
(SDG 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development)
The participation of multiple parties in the SWM system is one of the most important points that the system aspires to.
The transformation from the traditional government sector to the government as a partner through multilateral partnerships between the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and the local community has become inevitable and necessary for the success of the SWM system.
Clearly, there is an interrelationship between waste management and the SDGs, with greater impact related to certain goals more than others.