Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any scientific information contained within this essay should not be treated as fact, this content is to be used for educational purposes only and may contain factual inaccuracies or be out of date.

The Municipal Solid Waste Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 5390 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this


Chapter one provides an overview of the whole study. It begins with the background to the study. It also details the purpose of the study, the problem statement, the research questions and the objectives. The research hypothesis, the significance of the study and the limitations to the study are also included in this chapter.

1.1 Background to the Study

More than half of the world’s population live in areas that are classified as urban (Brook and Davila, 2001). Taking Africa as an example, its population will almost triple by 2050 and this will be primarily in the urban and peri-urban areas (UN-Habitat 2001).

Rapid urbanisation, which is mainly driven by the influx of migrants from rural areas in search of better livelihoods, has its attendant consequences. Increasing waste generation rates due population growth, changing lifestyles of people, development and consumption of products with materials that are less biodegradable have led to the diverse challenges for Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) in various cities of the world (Asase et al 2009)

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Nemerow et al (2009) define solid waste as any variety of solid materials as well as some liquids in containers, which are discarded or rejected as being spent, useless, worthless or in excess. It must be noted that although waste might not have any user value to the owner it still holds some value, particularly plastic and metallic waste still hold some value when discarded. This is evident in the recycling of plastic waste and the collection of metallic waste by scavengers for recycling.

According to UNEP (2005), waste generation rates of a nation usually goes up directly proportional to technological advancement in development, and the inability to put in place a waste management system. Consequently, there could be enhanced urban population risk, as a result of marked environmental filth.

A significant proportion of urban waste in Ghana is deposited either on the roads, roadsides, unapproved dump sites, in waterways, drainage system, or in open places. In fact, solid waste poses various threats to public health, and adversely affects flora and fauna as well as the environment; especially when it is not appropriately collected and disposed (Geraldu, 1995).

Sanitation and good hygiene are fundamental to health, survival, growth and development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have set us on a common course to push back poverty, inequality, hunger and illness. Having a healthy urban environment sets a city on track for development. The effects of solid waste management is a big cost to the nation in terms of health because when garbage ends up in the wrong place, it pollutes water, air and the soil, creating negative health impacts, and offers bacteria and pests a friendly environment in which to multiply.

Ghana, with a population of 23 million generates about 4.5 million metric tons of solid waste a year (Agyepong, 2011).

With an estimated population of about 2 million people, the Kumasi Metropolis generates an average of 1,500 tonnes of solid waste daily. Out of this amount the KMA is only able to collect about 1,300 tonnes leaving the remaining 200 tonnes uncollected due to inadequate waste collection logistics (KMA, 2010). No intention about effectiveness in disposal and recycling or reuse.

In recent times, a popular waste management option that has caught the attention of the Metropolitan Authorities in the urban centres is the utilization of private waste management companies. Though the use of private waste management companies in dealing with the challenge of effective management of urban waste is yet gaining popularity among developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, it provides a formidable means of securing a viable waste management option for urban authorities and fulfilling the dreams of achieving environmentally clean neighbourhoods for urban dwellers. Prominent among the private waste management companies contracted by the Waste Management Department of the KMA to help fulfill its mandate of addressing solid waste management issues in the metropolis is the Zoomlion Ghana Limited, which seems to be performing its task creditably in the face of daunting challenges associated with urban solid waste management in Ghana. From literature and experts in the field of waste management field,a set of performance indicators like the waste management activities they render (ie street sweeping, drain cleaning, waste collection and disposal), operational capacity in terms of staffing, machinery and equipments, the financial viability of their activities etc. are needed to assess operations of waste management in the Metropolis effectively.

1.2 Problem Statement

Kumasi is referred to as Garden City of West Africa. The latter is an accolade earned from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on a Royal visit to Ghana in 1957, mainly due to its flora and beauty. Kumasi is fast losing its glory mainly due to rapid urbanization and its attendant problem of relatively huge waste generation and poor management of the waste. It is now quite common to see heaps of waste dotted all over the metropolis, Usually the reason given by the general public for these ugly sights is that city authorities fail to either provide or supervise the provision of waste containers at vantage points. The City Authorities are further accused of failing to ensure that regular and/or frequent emptying of the waste containers are done, even where these are provided. Individual end-users of the services of private waste management companies often complain about unreliable service delivery by these waste management firms. On the other hand, these private waste management firms argue that city authorities hamper their quest for quality service delivery through bureaucracy, with regards to honouring contractual agreements with the City Authorities. All this leads to ineffective waste management.

It is generally believed that ineffective waste management can cause contamination of surface water, groundwater, soil, and air, which bring more problems to humans, other species, and ecosystems. Additionally, there is attraction of insects and rodents, which provides a haven for yellow fever, the plague, gastrointestinal parasites, worms, and various adverse human conditions. Several diseases, as well as cancers are caused by exposing humans to wastes resulting from the burnt rodents and insects.

Waste treatment and disposal produce significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, notably methane, and contributes significantly to global climate change (International Waste Activities, 2003).

Besides, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) incurs a monthly expenditure of GH¢585,000.00 on the management of solid waste in the Metropolis (KMA, 2011). Understandably, the substantial cost involved in solid waste management within the Metropolis arouses stakeholder interest in knowing the quality of service being rendered by contracted waste management firms.

This study seeks to investigate the performance of urban solid waste management in the Kumasi Metropolis, determine how effectively Zoomlion, a contracted private waste management company performs its operations

1.3 Objectives of the Study

To evaluate the performance of private sector participation via Zoomlion a privately-owned waste management company, with regard to urban solid waste management in the Kumasi Metropolis.

Specific Objectives of the study are:

To assess the operational capacity of Zoomlion in terms of staffing and equipment for effective operations.

To estimate the quantity of waste handled per period and its associated cost.

To estimate the revenue generated and the financial viability of Municipal solid waste management operations of Zoomlion.

To assess solid waste recycling activity in Kumasi Metropolis.

To determine the challenges of waste management and perception of end-users on quality of waste management in Kumasi.

1.4 Research Questions

The questions this study seeks to address are:

What is the operational capacity of Zoomlion in terms of staffing and equipment for effective operation?

What are the quantity of waste handled per period and its associated cost?

What are the revenue generated and the financial viability of the municipal solid management operations of Zoomlion?

What solid waste recycling activities are in the Metropolis?

What are the challenges of waste management and perception of end-users on quality of waste management in Kumasi?

1.5 Justification of the study

Efficient urban waste management is crucial in the attainment and sustenance of the status of millennium city by Kumasi. Indeed, sanitation forms one of the major focuses of the Millennium Cities Initiatives’ social sector and investment-related research in Kumasi. Knowledge of the degree of efficiency of waste management by the Zoom lion in the Kumasi Metropolis and the challenges faced in the delivery of this service would ensure better appreciation of the dynamics of urban waste management by all stakeholders including policy makers. It would also provide vital information to prospective investors in the urban waste management venture. Various studies have been conducted regarding urban waste management in the Kumasi Metropolis but little or nothing seems to have been done in the area of evaluating the performance of private urban waste management firms, and results from this study will fill the knowledge gap.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study would be carried out within the Kumasi Metropolis in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The study seeks to review the waste management policy of KMA waste department and the operations of its associated contracted private waste companies in the Kumasi Metropolis. Zoomlion Ghana Limited would be used as a case study for the whole project. The target for the study includes staff members of the KMA waste department, Zoomlion Ghana Limited as well as that of small recycling business (scavengers) . The participants for the study would be selected using simple random sampling whereby each participant would have an equal chance of being involved in the study. The use of simple random sampling is to enable the researcher avoid any form of biaseness in the selection process. Interviews, questionnaires and observation would be used to elicit the required information from the target group. Performance Indicators are: frequent breakdown of vehicles and equipments, payment of service fees, logistical constraints, monitoring/ supervision by KMA, abregation/revision of contractual agreement, and awareness of sanitation bye laws.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

Acquisition of information on cost of operations and revenue generated by Zoomlion Gh Ltd is anticipated to be difficult because of the high confidentiality that individuals and businesses attach to such information. Most officials will not voluntarily grant interviews until they have sought permission from higher authority.

1.8 Structure of the Study

The study is structured into five chapters. Chapter one will introduce the study including the background, the problem statement, objectives and the project scope. Chapter two will provide information pertaining to review of literature relevant to the study topic. In this chapter, the existing body of knowledge would be reviewed to properly establish the theoretical foundation for the dissertation. Chapter three will capture the research methodology, detailing the research instruments and techniques that would be employed by the researcher in collecting data, analysing the data and interpreting the results. Chapter four will give an overview of the results of data collected in chapter three, together with analysis and discussion with respect to findings of other similar studies. Chapter five will wrap up the whole study by providing information pertaining to the summary, the conclusion and recommendation of the study.



2.1 Definition of Waste

Materials that are not necessarily classified as prime products are regarded as waste. Generally, these materials are those that the generator intends to dispose of. Further, these materials do not find additional utilisation with respect to change, consumption, or production by the generator of the waste. The generation of wastes may result from raw materials extraction, raw materials processing into in-process and final products, the usage of finished products and diverse human actions. The recycling of residuals or in-situ reuse are not included (GST, 2002).

The returning of substances to the environment is a resultant of the occurrence of a natural part of the recycle. The wastes recycled by living organisms are excreted by in-take of raw materials by living organisms. Nonetheless, a further flow of the residue of materials that would create an overload of the capacity of process involved in natural recycling is produced by people. Therefore, to reduce their impact on the health, aesthetics and the environment, there should be proper management of the wastes (Environmental Literacy Council, 2002).

Man-made systems which emphasize the economic value of materials and energy, and where production and consumption are the dominant economic activities. Such systems tend to be highly destructive of the environment as they require massive consumption of natural capital and energy, return the end product (waste) to the environment in a form that damages the environment and require more natural capital be consumed in order to feed the system. Where resources and space are finite (the Earth is not getting any bigger) this is ultimately not sustainable. The presence of waste is an indication of overconsumption and that materials are not being used efficiently (Fullcycle, 2009).

2.2 Types of Waste

2.2.1 Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

The terminology – municipal solid waste (MSW) – is used for the wastes that are collected from commercial buildings, households, light industrial processes and institutions like schools and hospitals. The main components of MSW are yard trimmings, containers and packing materials, wastes from foods, paper and containers. In addition, the following may also be contained in MSW; industrial sludge, which may be either non-hazardous or hazardous from n, construction, mining, and processes involved in manufacturing. There is no immediate threat to the health of human or the natural environment, if MSW is managed properly.

In Ghana solid waste refers mainly to:

Domestic waste (waste from food preparation, sweeping, discarded household items),

Municipal waste (waste generated in commercial centres),

Industrial waste (e.g. wood waste, waste from abattoirs and food processing industries, metal scraps from garages) (Poku, 2009).

2.2.2 Waste

Existing in a solid, liquid or gaseous form, a waste material may be flammable, reactive, corrosive or toxic. Despite the fact that the term “waste” is associated with hazardous materials, the former includes products used on a daily basis. Waste materials include shoe polish, detergents, batteries, used oil from motorised transport, and paint. Additionally, the production processes of several times that we use daily generate hazardous wastes. Legislations have been put in place to enjoin commercial and industrial concerns to manage their wastes from the point of generation till the time of disposal. In order to minimise the hazardous nature of wastes, the latter is often made to undergo treatment with a view to modifying their biological, chemical and physical characteristics. In contemporary times, many industrial concerns change their production processes or replace harmful materials with less unsafe ones in the value chain, so as to minimise the generation of hazardous wastes.

2.2.3 E-Waste

In modern times, there is a new waste stream, which is aptly termed ‘e-waste’. The term e-waste is applied to electronic equipment and gadgets that are utilised by industries and end-users, which have virtually come to the end of their useful life. The equipment and gadgets in question include fax machines, copiers and television screens. Classical examples of e-waste are the cathode ray tubes in televisions and computer monitors, which are virtually exhausted. The fact that these equipment and gadgets contain hazardous materials poses challenges during their disposal. On account of the dearth of proper procedures to manage them, most of the e-waste sits idly, instead of being recycled or being reused. Reselling and donation to charities by their owner are some of the ways by which some of these equipment and gadgets could be put to good use.

2.3 Composition of Solid Waste

Information on the composition of solid waste is important in evaluating alternative equipment needs, systems, and management programme and plans for solid waste collection (Tchobanoglous et al., 1993). For instance, if wastes are generated from a commercial facility that consists of only paper products, the use of special processing equipment such as shredders and balers may be appropriate. Separate collection may also be considered if different city collection agencies are involved. According to (Asase et al., 2009) the composition of solid waste in the Kumasi city is predominantly made of biodegradable materials and high percentage of inert materials which include wood ash, sand and charcoal. Table 2.1 shows the solid waste composition in the Kumasi area.

Table 2.1:Composition of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) for Kumasi in 2011

Waste component

Percentage of Municipal Solid Waste component

Organic Material




Glass/ bottles


Paper and cardboard






Inert (Sand, ash, fine organics, demolition waste) Material






Source: KMA WMD (2012)

2.4 Waste Management Hierarchy

The waste management hierarchy can be traced back to the 1970s, when the environment movement started to critique the practice of disposal-based waste management. Rather than regarding ‘rubbish’ as a homogenous mass that should be buried, they argued that it was made up of different materials that should be treated differently – some shouldn’t be produced, some should be reused, some recycled or composted, some should be burnt and others buried (Schall 1992).

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

The waste hierarchy refers to the practical ways of managing waste with the main aim of extracting maximum benefits from products and generate minimum amount of waste, the ways are listed in order of importance. They are source reduction and reuse, recycle and composting, energy recovery and lastly, treatment and disposal.( US EPA, 2012) Below is graphical representation of the waste management Hierarchy, with the least preferred option, disposal marked at the bottom of the triangle, and at the top is the most preferred option, that is source reduction and reuse . Unfortunately WMD of KMA practice the least preferred option, which is the the disposal at the landfill site, that means our management system in the metropolis is not the best and it looks not sustainable too without the other interventions shown on the diagram.


Figure 2.1: Waste Management Hierarchy

Source : .( US EPA, 2012)

2.4.1 Source Reduction and Reuse

This intervention or strategy means reducing waste at source, reducing the amount of waste you produce actually prevents it from piling up. To go by this strategy, avoid unnecessary packaging, and items designed to be used only once. Example, a durable re-useable bags should be used for shopping instead of collecting a lot of polyethene bags.

Reusing items saves a lot of energy, natural resources, saves money for consumers and businesses. For example useable containers, clothing, furniture etc can be donated to charity instead of dumping them at the dumpsite to increase waste generation. ( US EPA, 2012).

2.4.2 Recycling and Composting


The gathering of used items and discarded materials and processing them into new products is referred to as recycling. In recycling, there is minimisation of the quantum that is otherwise discarded into the rubbish bins of communities. This results in relatively clean environment, while improving the quality of the ambient air (Lave et al.,1999). Some of the benefits of recycling waste are resource efficiency, mitigation in the impact on the environment from waste treatment and the disposal thereof. In effect, this leads to a cleaner and a healthier environment. Additional benefits include a decrease in space for landfill sites, thereby, saving money and time. There is also a net saving in the quantum of resources required for producing of new and innovative products (Tchobanoglous et al., 2003).

During composting, which is a biological process, bacteria and fungi – micro-organisms – assist the conversion of biodegradable substances into other materials which look like humus. This process leads to a substance with the characteristics of a soil, which is rich in carbon and nitrogen and provides a medium for planting crops and trees. The composting process allows waste in kitchens to be put to good use as nutrients through recycling some useful substances in waste food and other materials. Composting combines the advantages of cleanliness, safety, cheapness, while markedly minimising the quantum of garbage intended for the rubbish bins. Compost material, which is an organic type of a fertilizer, may be used instead of chemical fertilizers mainly for the growing of vegetables. Another advantage of compost is its propensity to retain water, while making the soil relatively easy to cultivate. More importantly, the ability of the plant to retain nutrients is aided by compost (Mensah and Larbi, 2005). In general, the ambient conditions in Ghana are very suitable for composting.

2.4.3 Energy Recovery

This intervention is recovering useable energy such as heat, electricity, or fuel from waste materials that are to reuse and recycle, particularly plastics, through variety processes including combustion, gasification, anaerobic digestion, landfill gas recovery and pyrolization. Example solid waste can be combusted at very high temperatures which produces heat, that heat is used to convert water in to steam. That steam can be used to turn turbines to generate electricity (US EPA, 2012).

2.4.4 Treatment and Disposal

This intervention is the last of the various solid waste management options mentioned above .There are many different methods of disposing of solid waste in the world but the most common methods used in Ghana and other parts of Africa are landfill, open dumping and incineration. Landfill is the most common and probably accounts for more than 90 percent of the nation’s municipal refuse even though landfills have been proven contaminates of drinking water in certain areas. Landfills are constructed and operated to strict environmental standards, example the liners are designed in a way to protect the ground water.

2.5 Waste Management Indicators

Waste Management Indicators are variables that influence the performance of waste management operations. These indicators are mostly derived from literature and experts in the field of waste. From the contractual agreements ( signed between the WMD of KMA and the private waste management’s companies in the Kumasi Metropolis, performance indicators like the waste management activities and how they are suppose to execute it (ie. waste collection from house and communal dumpsite and disposal), operational capacity in terms of staffing, machinery and equipments are listed in it. Garcia-Sanchez (2007) also used street cleaning, waste collection and the treatment of solid waste as indicators on the performance of Spanish solid waste collection.

2.6 Theory of Waste Management

In industrialised nations the waste management practices evolved with the 1970’s focusing on reducing environmental impacts (Tanskanen, 2000). This was done by creating controlled landfill sites (Read, 2003), establishing waste transfer stations or redirecting waste collection vehicle routes (Truitt et al. 1969). The 1980’s and early 1990’s focused on new technological solutions for waste management while the mid 1990’s until today, the focus is on resource recovery (Read, 2003). In this regard recycling, incineration, composting and bioreactor treatment for energy and nutrient recovery methods are included in MSWM systems (Chang and Wei, 1999; MacDonald, 1996a).

Changes in waste management policies in recent times have shifted waste management planning from reliance on landfill towards Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) approaches (Read, 2003). New directives/legislations are being promulgated in the EU and the US on waste disposal in the interest of the environment. Examples among them are; the January 1st 2003 increase in tax to 370 Swedish Kronor per ton of landfilled waste in Sweden (RVF, 2003); and the 1993 United States’ Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle D which requires landfills to be impermeably lined and equipped with leachate and gas collection equipment (Pacey, 1999). These policies and their enforcement have helped the developed nations in implementing the waste hierarchy; prevention, materials recovery, incineration and landfill. For instance the 1993 Government Action Plan on Waste and Recycling in Denmark set out to achieve targets of 54% recycling, 25% incineration and 21% landfill by the year 2000 (Sakai et al., 1996). In the developing world however, poor enforcement or non-existence of waste management policies have resulted in the dependence on open dumping. Improvements in the area of constructing sanitary landfills in these regions have most often been supported by the World Bank and other bilateral donor agencies (Johannessen and Boyer, 1999).

2.6.1 Waste Collection

The term waste collection includes not only the collection of solid waste from various sources but also the hauling of these wastes to the location where the contents of the collection vehicles are emptied (Tchobanoglous et al., 1993). Waste collection is also described as a component of waste management which results in the passage of waste materials from the source of production to either the point of treatment or final disposal site (Sampson, 2003).

The way and manner in which waste is collected in terms of vehicle types, capacities, staffing levels and round configuration depends on the nature of the collection. For example household / commercial, and the contractual arrangements put in place (working hours, disposal points, materials collected and receptacles used, e.g. black bag, wheelie-bin, orange sack).

According to Tchobanoglous et al. (1993), waste collection starts with the containers holding materials that a generator has designated as no longer useful and ends with the transportation of the solid waste to a location for processing or disposal. In high income areas, the private waste collection companies collect the waste directly from households with compactor trucks for dumping whiles in low and middle income areas, residents carry their waste to public waste containers provided by the Waste Management Department at communal collection points (Boadi and Kuitunen, 2003).

2.6.2 Waste Collection Service/Methods

Solid waste collection systems and methods in Kumasi are inadequate to cover a large part of the city, particularly, in poor squatter settlements, and inaccessible neighbourhood to collect all the expected waste to be generated in the cities (Boadi and Kuitunen, 2003). The principal types of waste collection methods are collecting co-mingle or non-separated waste at source and waste at source separated. Waste collection methods vary widely between different countries and regions. Domestic waste collection services are often provided by local government authorities, or by private industry. Developing countries do not have a formal waste-collection system even though these countries are now adopting some of the popular waste collection systems around the world. For instance in Australia, the curbside collection is the method of disposal of waste where every urban domestic household is provided with three bins: one for recyclables, another for general waste and another for garden materials. These bins are provided by the municipality if requested. In Ghana the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are responsible for the collection and final disposal of solid waste through their Waste Management Departments (WMDs) and their Environmental Health and Sanitation Departments (www.ghanadistrics.com, 2009).

There are two main types of waste collection services that are delivered by the private operators in the Kumasi Metropolis. These are house-to-house and communal collection services. Peter et al., (2009) asserted that the patronage of the house-to-house collection services in the Kumasi Metropolis increased from 2.1 per cent of the population in 1999 to 20.8 per cent in 2005. It was also observed that residents of the city are willing to patronize the service if satisfactory levels of service could be guaranteed.

2.6.3 Household and Commercial Waste Collection

Household wastes are generally generated from homes. They are gathered in waste bins, plastic or metal containers, plastic bags for collection by waste collector using a waste collection vehicle. The waste generated from households are carried to central waste collection point (transfer stations) where they would be loaded into a vehicle and either sent to a landfill site or to an alternative waste treatment facility. The amount of waste generated from households and commercial places far exceeds the volume collected. According to Boadi and Kuitunen (2003), 60% of the total waste generated in Accra is collected annually leaving the 40% uncollected. According to the Kumasi Waste Management Department (2009), and the private waste management companies in Kumasi, their inability to collect all the waste generated from the households and the commercial areas are as a result of poor road network within the city, inadequate waste collection containers and the frequent break down of bulldozers and compactors at the landfill site. According to Boadi and Kuitunen, (2003), households resort to alternative ways of disposing their waste. For instance in high income areas waste bins are not emptied in time forcing residence to hire individuals to dispose of the waste at the central collection points. In low income areas, the containers are not removed in time and this causes people to dump waste in unauthorized dumps such as canals, water bodies, and surface drains.

2.6.4 Logistics of Solid Waste Collection

Past methods of planning for and operating waste collection systems are under pressure, resulting from the need to improve the collection systems to protect the environment and public safety. Sampson (2003) stated in his report that waste collection and transport has significant environmental, health and safety implications as well as the economic cost due to the types of logistics that are used to collect and transport the waste. The total quantity of waste generation keeps increasing coupled with the nature and type of waste produced in our technological society gives the complexity of the type of


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: