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The State Of Waste Disposal In Colombo Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 4321 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1. Waste is a product that is no longer suited for further human uses. It may be something worn out or an unwanted by-product of a process. Waste represent potential health risks and irresponsible handling of waste can cause adverse environmental effects such as pollution, litter, obnoxious odour , smells an unsightliness.

2. Hazard waste such as radioactive waste may cause dangerous diseases and loss of life, specially birth defects, cancer, respiratory problems and skin diseases. Illegal dumping and unplanned land filling would adversely effect the surrounding , ground ware and soil. The end result of this unplanned disposal and improper waste management system of waste leads to local as well as global environmental pollution.

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3. Colombo as the hub city for trade and business in Sri Lanka, daily generates about 700 tons of garbage within its city limits [1] . When compared with other main cities, in-house solid waste generation is also comparatively high within the Colombo city due to high population density. Considering the dumping and disposal of the domestic solid waste are very difficult to monitor and guide to the proper disposal system rather than the bulk waste generated by commercial and government organizations.

4. Unavailability of proper and suitable domestic waste management system in Colombo area, people are exposed with non-hygienic environmental condition. Also indiscriminate dumping of solid waste has been practiced during past few decades within the city limits and this has caused serious environmental issues such as spread of Dengue fever in high volume and put most of the people in to the unbearable separation from their loving belonged.

5. In the present day context the garbage crisis has become a socio-political issue in the Colombo city and timely clearance of these wastes is a mandatory requirement and burden has taken by the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). With the available recourses such as manpower, equipment and machinery required for collection and transport of solid waste CMC has faced lot of financial and practical problems. Further as a developing country waste collection, transfer and transport costs are comparatively high than the other countries.

6. Therefore the performance of the CMC in this field had attracted the attention of the media and people in the recent past due to its weakness and shortcomings. Considering the all type of approaches to implement the proper and suitable waste management system to the Colombo city was not success due to the unevenness and negative attitude of the residences. Support given to the CMC is now become very low by the people to conduct the existing waste disposal systems. Without engaging the people with their fully awareness and positive attitude to overcome the prevailing situation will be dreamed.


4. To study present solid waste disposal systems in Colombo area to determine and recommend how effectively and efficiently accomplish it.


5. The specific objectives are as follows.

a. To study the present domestic solid waste disposal systems in Colombo area.

b. To evaluate the success of existing waste disposal systems and its effect to the environment.

c. To introduce an effective domestic waste management system.

d. To find out the mind set of general public on garbage disposal.




3. Drastic attitude change of general public on significance of the waste disposal in Colombo area will address the systematic, suitable and lasting domestic solid waste disposal management system to the city.


6. Our garbage mountains are growing by the day in Colombo city, and it is badly effect to the environment and will be root cause for the lethal diseases, blocking of the drains and water ways and polluting the land. Presently, Colombo Municipal Council encounters numerous difficulties while managing the solid wastes in Colombo areas. During further analysis, it is revealed that shortcomings in storage facilities, inadequate resource for collection and transportation and unawareness of the public on waste disposal methods are the contributory factors for the improper waste management. Therefore appropriate method and background should be create to implement the effective waste disposal system to prevent the environmental pollution of the city.

7. This paper discuses the impact of the improper handling of the domestic waste in Colombo city and how to change the attitude of the public positively to actively participate them for implementing the systematic, suitable and lasting domestic solid waste disposal management system to the city.


5. The scope of this research covers the present domestic solid waste disposal systems adopted by CMC in the Colombo city. Views of the people in the city and heads of solid waste management sections in the CMC are taken into consideration to analyze the present shortcomings. Opinion of randomly selected residents are analyzed to identify the causes for inefficient and ineffective waste disposal system in the city.


6. The required data for the research will be drawn from the following sources;

Primary Sources.

(1) Questionnaires For the primary data collections, the selected samples in Colombo area were issued the questionnaires personally and obtain answers according to the questionnaires.

(2) Interviews Carry out interview with the respective Directors in Solid waste disposal management in Colombo Municipal Council and Central Environment authority.

Secondary Sources.

(1) Official statistics Reports and statistics issued by Central Environment authority and Division of Solid waste disposal management in Colombo Municipal Council.

(2) Published studies Published studies on new technology for domestic Solid waste disposal management methods in the world.

(3) Other Relevant data and information from Internet.



1. This research study was completed with in two month of period and limited to study only the public awareness and attitude on the domestic waste management system only in Colombo Municipal Council area. Mainly focused the data and information provide by the Solid Waste Management Division at CMC. It also faced the difficulty of gaining genuine answers from the public.





1. The city of Colombo which is of area approximately 37 Km2, consist of 450 Km of road and approximately 275 000 premises in 2005. The permanent population was approximately 700 000 and the solid waste generation in 2009 was approximately 700 metric tons per day [2] .

2. For easy administration in Colombo Municipal Council, the Colombo city is divided in to six municipal districts namely Colombo North ( District 1), Colombo Central 1 (District 2A), Colombo Central 2 (District 2B), Borella (District 3), Colombo East (District 4) and Colombo West ( District 5). Each of these districts is divided into wards. There are total of 47 wards in the Colombo city. Municipal wards in the city of Colombo are shown as figure 3.1 in Annex ‘A’.

3. Narahenpita ward was selected as the study area for certain aspect of the research study since it represents a good sample of residential area and commercial premises. This area represents all categories such as residential, commercial, institutions, markets, educational centres etc. In addition Narahenpita ward consists of a well defined road network and land points.


4. Waste is broadly classified in to the following categories.

a. Solid waste (Non hazard, House hold waste)

b. Hazard waste (clinical, medical, electronic)

c. Radio active waste

5. Solid waste consists of household waste, construction and demolition debris, sanitation residue, and waste from streets which are generated mainly from residential and commercial complexes. These are normally called as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). With rising of urbanization and change of lifestyle and food habits of the people, the amount of municipal solid waste has been increasing rapidly and its composition also change rapidly. As a result of this cans, Aluminium foils, plastics, and other such non-biodegradable items are additional accumulation of solid wastes.

6. Industrial and hospital waste is considered hazardous as they may contain toxic substances. Certain types of household waste are also hazardous but generated volume is very low and not in frequently. Hazardous wastes could be highly toxic to humans, animals, and plants and also they are corrosive and highly inflammable, or explosive; and react when exposed to certain things e.g. gases. Household hazardous wastes can be categorized as old batteries, shoe polish, paint tins, old medicines, and medicine bottles.

7. Hospital waste contaminated by chemicals used in hospitals is considered as hazardous. These chemicals include formaldehyde and phenols, which are used as disinfectants, and mercury, which is used in thermometers or equipment that measure blood pressure. In the industrial sector, the major generators of hazardous waste are the metal, chemical, paper, pesticide, dye, refining, and rubber goods industries.

8. Radio active waste is generated during the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities in these fields or in the production or testing of Chemical.

9. Composition of solid waste As shown in the figure below, the composition of municipal solid waste in Sri Lanka is mainly biodegradable, in that it decomposes naturally. Just under half of local waste generated consists of materials such as metals, wood, glass, paper, building wastes, slaughterhouse wastes, sawdust, paddy husk, garment wastes, polythene and plastic [3] .

Composition of municipal waste collection in Sri Lanka, 2005

Source: data base of solid waste, Ministry of environment, Sri Lanka, 2005.


10. In Colombo city solid waste are generated by domestic and commercial. Domestic waste are generated as a result of the day today general life activity of the recidance.


11. The Colombo municipal council which administrates the largest and the most developed local authority in Sri Lanka has a duty to ensure favourable conditions for a high quality life for the residents living within its area of authority as well as those who work and conduct business within the city, with a sound and sustainable environmental protection system.

12. With a view to satisfying the above requirements the CMC has established a Solid Waste Management Unit for planning, organizing and carrying out the collection, disposal and recycling of waste and other related activities.

13. The quantity of waste produced by the house holds, business and industries located within the city is about 700 metric tons per day. According to information furnished by the CMC this includes the following contributors.

Residential population (700,000): households, schools, offices, ext.

Floating population (600,000): coming for purchasing of goods and services, work, schools, hospitals, markets, hotels, visitors (local and foreign) ext.

11. The resources that can be used for the solid waste management function of a particular municipal district are shown in Annex ‘E’. Form of waste material such as normal waste, tree cutting, debris, offal, recyclable items, de-silting materials from drains, brushing material from roads etc. require different types of equipment for collection and transportation. For example, compactor trucks could transport solid waste that could be compacted, while debris or tree cutting necessitate tippers, skip bins or tractor trailers.

3. Three types of systems could be adopted for collection of solid wastes and accordingly the resources should be allocated.

House hold waste collection.

Light commercial wastes

c. Street waste collection by tractor trailers.

4. In order to clear the garbage generated within the city limits CMC is presently in possession of following vehicles.

Type of Vehicale






Wheel Loder


Poster removing truck


Bob cat


Skip bucket




Sweeping machine


11. CMC is using there resources and manpower as per the sechedule programme to collect the waste in the city. In the areas where roadside takes place, most households simply dump their garbage by the side of the road. Some higher income households are left the waste by the road side in bags, bins, or neat piles. In some area there are barrels which are given by CMV or any other organization at certain points along the road in which waste can be deposited.

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12. The cleaners proceed along their schedule route and pickup, shovel up or sweep up the waste in to the tractor trailer, handcraft or garbage truck. The waste collection periods also vary and some households areas waste is collected every other day, in certain other areas waste is collected only twice a week. However scheduled an the priority of collection was decide and given by the CMC considering the necessity.


11. All collected waste by CMC are transported to city waste dumping points at Bloomendal and Sedawatte areas marked as dumping sites for the city’s waste and garbage. The garbage dumped at Bloomendal is sorted out for recycling purpose, while the waste dumped at Sedawatte is not for recycling.




1. Parliament makes policy decisions, enact laws and directives regarding waste management of the country. In terms of Article 27(14) of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the state should protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community [4] . Waste management is a major aspect of this function and government apply and implement their waste management projects through the CMC.

2. To proper management of the waste CMC was implemented several waste management project mainly focusing the domestic waste. Most common method of domestic waste disposal is littering. It is now become a easiest way of waste disposal system in general public and they are used to be dropped their domestic waste on the roadside, in parks and in any conveniently open public places and outside the houses.

3. CMC and other responsible authorities are collected waste according to their schedule but it is not sufficient to manage and control this issue and now its’ already become a serious problem. The persistence of littering indicates a fundamental disregard of others’ health, property and comfort.


4. There are basically two methods used by households to get rid of solid waste, namely dumping and burning. Dumping of garbage is usually done in one of the following manners:

a. By digging a (shallow) pit in the ground, usually in the garden, where the waste is dumped. After dumping the pit is either filled or the waste is periodically burned.

b. By simply throwing the garbage in the most convenient place. Usually this either the roadside in front of the house, or some unused land (often a natural area) around the house. Garbage dumped by the roadside is often collected by local authority cleaners, or periodically burned. The lighter materials (plastic sheets, bags and paper) are usually scattered by wind, animals and passing vehicles.

c. By dumping the waste in a place which is also used by others. This can either be a formal dumpsite, which is also used by the local authorities, or an informal site, which is more common.

d. By dumping the waste on a piece of low-lying land (usually marshy land) for filling.

e. By dumping the waste into water ways or water bodies, where it is periodically washed away. This is mostly seen in low-income areas that are located along rivers, canals, lagoons, tanks, drainage channels or the sea.


5. It is the responsibility of each person to minimise the waste it generates, to recycle as much as possible and finally to dispose of its waste products in an environmentally safe manner. There are various methods and processes, described below, which offer opportunities for firm to benefit from environmentally sustainable waste management practices, some of which help save on cost while others help generate additional income.

6. Biodegradable waste Most of the waste generated in this country is biodegradable; in other words, it is capable of natural decomposition. Although there are various ways of recycling biodegradable waste, composting is generally considered to be the most environmentally friendly option.

7. Separating of the compostable waste at the point of generation will be easier and less costly during the process of composting and stored in the separated bins. It can take month to couple of years to turn waste into compost, depending on several factors such as types and quantities of materials being compost, the temperature, moisture content and the amount of air in the mix.

8. Compost can be sold to small-scale farmers and household to use as a soil conditioner or fertiliser. With increasing demand from consumers for organic foods, the demand for good quality compost will also grow in tandem.

9. Bio-gas The composting process produce gasses, compressing mainly of methane (55%-75%) and carbon dioxide (25%-45%). These by products can be converted in to energy. The methane in bio-gas combuste more cleanly than coal and produces more energy with less carbon dioxide emission. The harvesting of bio-gas is an important aspect of waste management scince methane is a greenhouse gas with a greater global warning potential than carbon dioxide.

10.. Metal waste Steel and other iron-containing matter are some of the most recycled materials and one of the easiest material to recycle, as it can be separated magnetically from the waste stream. Iron can be repeatedly recycled several time due to his properties and quality of the recycled product will not be changed.

11. Most tins and cans are made from aluminium and can be recycled. These are shredded and ground in to small pieces and melted in an aluminium smelter to produce molten aluminium. At this stage the recycled aluminium is indistinguishable from virgin aluminium. In Sri Lanka collected aluminium is exported to India as there are no existing production facilities to melt and recycle.

12. Glass waste Waste glass is collected and sorted according to its colour and taken to a glass recycling plant where it is monitored for purity and contaminants are removed. The cullet(glass waste) is crushed and added to a raw material mix in a melting furnace and then mechanically blown or moulded into new jar or bottles.

13. Paper waste Paper can be directly recycled or treated with other biodegradable wastes. In direct recycling it is separated in to its component fibres in water, producing a pulpy slurry. After removing ink from the paper these fibre taken in to make recycled paper. Paper is mainly reused to make paper bags and cardboard.

14. Polythene and Plastic Discarded polythene and plastics, because of widespread use, are one of the biggest problems encountered in waste management. Another reason is that they are not biodegradable, and remain in the environment once disposed. The majority of plastics produced today are thermoplastics, meaning that they soften when heated, and thus are easier to recycle.

15. To make the environment to encourage the people for waste management, the CMC implemented several projects to encourage and comfortable the public during the domestic waste disposal. Here they are made money value for the waste and encourage them to do the disposing method properly.

a. Implementation of 3-R system Reduction, Reuse, Recycle in collection and transport of domestic solid waste.

(1) Issuing of poly-sack bags and collect the separated waste such as plastic, polythene, paper, metal particles and glass.

b. Six Eco-Kiosk centres There are five waste collection stations are established in the city premises and encourage the people to handover their waste to this collection point after separating it. Separating waste in to paper, polythene, plastics, glass ext. should be done by the public before handover it. Following are the established waste collection points in Colombo area.

(1) 145, Vauxhall street, Colombo 05.

(2) 84, Green path, Colombo 07.

(3) 256, Sri Dhamma Mawatha, Colombo 10.

(4) 213, Torrington Avenue, Colombo 05.

(5) 480, Galle Road, Colombo 06.

c. Home composting project Providing bins and knowledge to encourage the public to manage their waste by their self without putting any where and obtain the value for it. For this project there are no need large space and with the coordination and combine with the other neighbour can established the common place for the disposal.


16. Lack of awareness and education

17. Difficult in finding suitable landing for viable and sustainable municipal solid waste management.

18. Lack of accountability in service delivery.

19. Lack of resources for capital investment, operation and maintenance.

20. Lack of technology use.

21. Weak and slow financial resources mobilization, allocated in budget.

22. Reluctant creation and implementation of by laws.

23. Lack of political commitment at all levels of government.

24. No proper disposal facility.



2. General people do not seem much aware of the possible environmental problems caused by the disposal of household waste Most have never thought about what happens to waste after disposal. It seems that garbage is only seen as a problem when practical issues occur in storage or disposal. Storage problem occur mostly from lack of space and disposal problems from lack of a good place to dump or burn, and from difficulties with burning or buying waste in bad weather. Most people who have enough space do not see waste as a problem.

3. From media and school education most people do know about the consequences of improper waste handling such as health problem and recently experienced Dengue. However if people are aware and treat waste properly most of the health issues can be prevented.

4. On the other hand, waste materials that are sold by households to house-to-house collectors are not really seen as “garbage”. These things are seen as something that still has some value, which is a good thing for future recycling programmes. However, even these materials are thrown away when not collected. Most people will not go to any trouble to store much of the material for collection, or to deliver it to a buyer themselves.

5. Proper collection and subsequent central disposal is seen as the solution to most garbage related problems in areas where waste is not collected. Most people thnk that the government should take the initiative to organise collection. As final disposal is not really considered a problem by most people, they do not realy care what happens to the waste once it is remoed from their line of sight.

6. When asked what they consider as possibilities for community participation, most people see their possible role to collect their own garbage, either at home in a bin or bag or in a central bin no too far from the house.

6. The general public has a major role to play in the process of effective waste management. There is a need for people to take responsibility for the waste they create and for them to be made aware of their duty to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.


7. Waste avoidance and reduction The generation of waste in the process of consumption is inevitable. As a obvious corollary, increased consumption means increased waste as well. However if everyone plays his or her part in making a considered effort to avoid the usage of unwanted material and engages in good housekeeping practices, the waste generated can be appreciably reduced. Excessive and unnecessary packing causes a colossal increase increase in the generation in solid waste. Consumer should, as a matter of prudent policy go for product that use biodegradable or recyclable materials for packing rather than harmful PVC and other petroleum derivatives that are not biodegradable.


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