“Recycling technologies the highway to an Eco-friendly Africa.”
Africa has been undergoing the fastest rate of urbanization for the past two decades at 3.5 per cent a year. African countries experiencing economic growth, rapid urbanization and increased population – waste management has become a constant thorn in their sides. Africa is currently facing a challenge of E-waste, where approximately 500 shipping containers from developed countries are dumped in Africa each month, and the total amount of waste being dumped in Africa is around 50 million tonnes today. (Downtoearth.org.in, 2019).
Climate change remains one of the world’s most significant challenges; and our wildlife is daily threatened by the effects of global warming, which is the inevitable result of an increase in greenhouse gases emission. Despite that, it remains inevitable for humans to be at risk even though all the life-threatening tragedies are all part of humans consequential endeavors and exploit as well as their ongoing creation and discovery. In Africa, the above are additional challenges to the challenges the continent is encountering – high population density and urbanization. The continent of Africa continues to suffer from Improper solid waste disposal and management, not to mention the rapid increase of its population and its lower recycling rate. The African continent generated 108 million metric tonnes of waste in a 2012 study by the National Waste Information Baseline Report, and it was observed that out of 108 million tonnes 98 million tonnes of waste went straight into landfill. (Africa Freak, 2019).
The reality of this creates an urgency to take action to avoid matters to get out of hand requires a study and understanding of what may be the leading cause, identify what possible solutions to avoid future precarious damage. The research paper aims to explore recycling technologies and the impact it can have on waste management in Africa and the contribution it would bring to the economy, education, environment of the continent.
How can recycling technologies improve waste management in Africa?
Recycling technologies are methods for reducing solid waste by reusing discarded materials to make new products. It consists of three integral phases of recycling; the collection of recyclable materials, manufacture or reprocessing of these materials into new products, and the purchase of these products. There exist different techniques that have been developed to recycle plastics, glass, metals, paper, and wood. Mainly, wastes must be managed through reuse, recycling, storage, treatment and disposal. All generated solid wastes, and hazardous wastes are taken and disposed of in land disposal units. Generally, most solid wastes and hazardous wastes are disposed of in land disposal units. (US EPA, 2019).
Waste Management in Africa
It is with no doubt that waste management systems in Africa are not efficient enough that they would substantially reduce the amount of waste management through recycling ensuring a substantial reduction of the enormous solid waste that is lingering in landfills sites. About 36 per cent of the people in the continent now live in urban areas, and the number is expected to rise to 50 per cent by 2050, according to the World Bank. Many African Facilities lack facilities and equipment to dispose of waste properly (World Bank, 2019). What is to be expected Bulk of the urban population stays in slums where waste management services are woefully inadequate. The lack of adequate waste disposal leads to an increase in pollution due to the greenhouse gasses and harmful chemicals that are released from rubbish in landfill sites. (Recycling Guide, 2019). The continent of Africa continues to suffer from causes of Improper solid waste disposal and management, not to mention the rapid increase of its population and its lower recycling rate. However, there may be a solution if proper action is taken. Recycling technology is a solution in this matter.
In the island state of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania with a population of 1.3 million is an excellent example of where a sequence of challenges has followed urbanization. Waste management is one of the challenges the Island stated is facing the state has no official strategy on biomedical or solid waste management. On the Island, half of the waste generated in the capital city of Zanzibar Town is burnt locally and other times dumped in the neighborhood. The remaining wastes are disposed of in the landfill of the city called the Kibele landfill site. The site was set up in 2011 with the help of the World Bank; however, the existence of the landfill solved one problem, but many others arose. The landfill is located near settlements and is in the buffer zone of the Kibele forest. The opening burning of waste remains a source of complaint of communities not ignoring the effect of the burning to the community around and its surrounding. (World Bank, 2019).
Recycling technologies as the Highway…
Recycling technologies, in this case, is a possible solution to the challenge. In countries where recycling technologies have started to be applied, it has come to be evident that a culture of reuse follows. It is observed where there is a culture of reuse; There is an increase in creativity which results in the birth of small businesses. Swaziland, one of the smallest countries in Africa with a comparable population as Zanzibar, has achieved effective waste management through their handicraft industries that have flourished through cooperatives. In recycling, there is the birth of creativity and innovation. (Downtoearth.org.in, 2019). From the handicraft industries, there have been creations of other small companies which has led to an improved livelihood in those communities. With recycling technologies, there is a possibility to track the waste management process, thus ensuring even more effective Eco-friendly ways of waste removal and management. (Quartz Africa, 2019).
Recycling technologies keep on innovating waste management; it has enabled the TURNING OF WASTE INTO ENERGY it being one of the most significant innovations to the waste management industry was the ability to turn waste into actual power. Instead of waste occupying landfill, certain types of waste can be converted into energy. The existence of new machinery such as “digesters” can help in the acquiring of energy from the biogas produced from the waste. The use of such technologies would allow African to produce more energy, which is Eco-friendly and also reduces the amount of money spent on electricity. Moreover, such technology is even used on waste such as food, agricultural leftovers and more. (Company, 2019).
Technology like RFID is also essential in regards to the waste management track. Recognized by experts for the statistics it gives cannot be changed or calculated wrong. It has proved to give evident results due to how it functions. (Company, 2018). RFID technology tracks bins and garbage vehicles allowing tracking recyclables and which homes exactly came from this allows having a clear picture of what demographics are recycling and what possible measures can be taken to incentivize the others. (Management et al., 2019).
Additionally, recycling technologies such as Gasification which involves clean synthetic gas through the usage of waste is one way to produce energy in an Eco- friendly way of producing energy. Since the gas has only 50% of the natural gas density, it can refine oil replace fossil fuels,and be reprocessed into green diesel. Gasification can be a solution to the reduction of emission of greenhouse gases. (Global-recycling.info, 2019)
Recycling technology would not just ensure a clean and safe but Africa but a promising economic continent also. Recycling technologies spiked inspiration to some young Africans, and it can spike in many others with the right education through active movements that would educate young Africans the importance of an eco- friendly environment. The introduction of these new technologies would require experts to come and train people, which is why support from the government where some have already taken action. Some policies and strategies have been established to address the challenge to ensure sustainable development of the continent like the “Agenda 2063: Africa We Want” the focus has been shifted to more Eco-friendly ways of waste removal and management and recycling.(“4 Ways Technology Helps with Recycling”, 2020). Also, companies are investing more and more into technologies that can help them in that regard. Partnering with such a company would ensure financial support; thus, the introduction of recycling technologies in Africa.
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