Evaluating citizen attitudes and participation in solid waste management in Tehran, Iran.Introduction
As municipal solid waste (MSW) problems become more complicated, waste policies also become more numerous and complex (Eriksson et al., 2005; Henry, Yongsheng, & Jun, 2006). In the past 30 years, MSW decision making in many countries has also undergone significant change. Earlier MSW management (MSWM) was installed primarily for choosing collections systems or for determining transportation or transfer of solid waste. For example, in the 1970s, the goal of the MSWM model was simple and narrow, aimed at optimizing waste collection routes for vehicles or transfer station siting (Su, Chiueh, Hung, & Ma, 2007). In 1980s, the focus was extended to cover MSWM on the system level, minimizing the total economic cost (Shmelev &r Powell, 2006). After the 1990s, as MSW policies became more complicated, the factors to be considered also increased; hence, several MSWM models with deeper analysis emerged. The factors considered in MSWM models were mainly economic (e.g., system cost and system benefit), environmental (e.g., air emissions and water pollution) and technological (e.g., the maturity of the technology). Three models have played a major role in the decision making of MSWM: life cycle assessment (LCA), multiobjective programming (MOP), and multi-criteria decision making (MCDM). Many researchers used LCA and MCDM to evaluate the environmental impact of the alternatives for MSWM (Fiorucci, Minciardi, Robba, & Sacile, 2003; Srivastava, Kulshreshtha, Mohanty, Pushpangadan, & Singh, 2005; Tanskanen, 2000). Multiobjective programming is a popular method for solving MSWM problems, such as locating sties and choosing management strategies (Rathi, 2006).MCDM, which is aimed at choosing the best among several alternatives by considering many criteria, is also widely used. Many techniques are available for solving environmental problems with multiple criteria, including the AHP method (Javaheri, Nasrabadi, Jafarian, Rowshan, & Khoshnam, 2007), outranking methods (Su, Chiueh, Hung, & Ma, 2007), and fuzzy methods (Karavezyris, Timpe, & Marzi, 2002; Nie, Huang, Li, & Liu, 2007). It was not until recently that societal acceptance and public participation became significant in the MSWM models (Abduli, Nabi Bidhendi, Nasrabadi, & Hoveidi, 2007; Junquera, Angel del Brio, & Muniz, 2001; Massoud, El-Fadel, & Abdel Malak, 2003; Mongkolnchaiarunya, 2005).
Recently, increasing attention has been paid to the environmental impact of solid waste in Iran (Abduli & Nasrabadi, 2007). Consequently, solid waste management has become a remarkably important issue. Solid waste comprises a wide range of materials and comes from a variety of sources. Having a population of about 10 million (about 1/7 of Iran's total population), Tehran is among the most populated capitals in the world. With 22 different districts, this city generates approximately 7,000 tons of municipal waste per day that culminates in 2.5 million tons annually. If a reduction strategy on the waste stream is not implemented, this huge amount of waste will be buried in Kahrizak (the exclusive landfill site of Tehran). Land and underground water resource degradation in the vicinity of the landfill site--as well as epidemic disease outbreaks that were obviously observed by the researchers in the area surrounding the site--may be considered as alarming warnings for further catastrophic consequences of uncontrolled waste dumping. In this study, the current composition of Tehran's generated waste is analyzed. Accordingly, some practical recommendations are made in order to reduce the waste stream load directed towards land.
Furthermore, this study evaluates the degree to which people are concerned about the fate of the waste they generate. Using the data gathered from people's views on how much they participate in implementation of integrated waste management functional elements, the researchers could then work with local community, organizations, NGOs, etc., to develop an educational program on proper behavior regarding waste from the initial point of generation to the terminal point of disposal.
Required data concerning the current status of waste generation in each of 22 districts as well as detailed information about waste collection and transport educational programs on source separation, and waste minimization were provided via the organization of waste recycling and compost (OWRC), municipality of Tehran.
In order to achieve the physical analysis of generated waste, waste sampling was carried out by the trained OWRC workers in 2004 for 10 successive days in the middle of each of four seasons. On each sampling day, 18 samples of one cubic meter were taken from specific stations in each of the districts. As the results for different districts were similar, the average values of all 22 districts were considered for further analysis.
Furthermore, trained interviewers, performed door-to-door surveys to evaluate citizen's attitudes and beliefs about participation in point-of-generation reduction programs like source separation, waste minimization. etc. One hundred and sixty households were surveyed within eight districts, in which more sophisticated educational programs had already been conducted through local training courses, brochures, and face-to-face education. The hope was that these prior efforts had increased the level of participation in waste management programs. About 20 homes were selected randomly from GIS maps in each area. Interviewers asked to speak with the person most involved in domestic waste handling. The questionnaire addressed issues about the significance of waste recovery in the citizens' points of view, as well as their participation in separation of different elements of waste like paper, glass, plastics, etc. The questions asked in the survey are shown in Table 1.
Do you think that waste recovery programs are efficient in environmental preservation?
Do you think that waste recovery programs are efficient in economic growth?
Do you separate paper and cardboard from your total generated waste?
Do you separate plastics from your total generated waste?
Do you separate metals from your total generated waste?
Do you separate glass from your total generated waste?
Do you separate crusted bread from your total generated waste?
People are the most significant element in implementation of source separation programs. In order to evaluate the current status of individual participation, a survey including questions about households' participation in the separation of paper and cardboard, plastics, metals, glass, and crusted bread from the waste stream was distributed among almost 160 households in eight districts of the city. The majority of Iranians are Muslims, and bread is considered sacred in Iranian Muslims' religious beliefs; accordingly, bread is not commingled with other waste when it becomes inedible.
Information on the source, type, composition, and quality of solid waste is essential for the design and operation of a solid waste management system. Every day about 7,000 metric tons of municipal solid waste is generated in 22 districts of Tehran. The field study assessed the composition of the generated solid waste system in the city (Figure 1).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
As seen in Figure 1, putrescible materials constitute more than 65% of the total waste stream. Putrescible waste has an approximate density of 290 kilograms per cubic meter, and treating this waste imposes a considerable financial stress on the municipality. The remaining waste has an approximate density of 110 kilograms per cubic meter and usually contains bulky materials. Accordingly, source separation of waste by households at the point of generation may be efficient for two reasons. First, this action may cause a substantial decrease in the amount of waste directed towards land by recycling, and second, source separation will reduce the cost related to waste collection and transport, the most expensive element in the total process of current waste management.
The quantitative level of citizens' participation is shown in Table 2. Among the respondents, the percentage of those who think waste recovery programs are efficient in environmental preservation and economic growth were 93.6% and 87.2%, respectively.
TABLE 2 Citizens' Participation in Source Separation of Generated Wastes Parameters Level of Cooperation (%) Never Seldom Sometimes Often Always Households who 35.5 15.9 18.9 13.4 16.2 separate paper and cardboard from the total generated waste Households who 32.8 12.8 20.7 13.8 20 separate plastics from the total generated waste Households who 38.4 15.5 13.9 13.9 18.2 separate metals from the total generated waste Households who 37.1 13.1 17.9 13.2 18.9 separate glass from the total generated waste Households who 4.5 2.2 6.2 12.9 74.1 separate crusted bread from the total generated waste
According to the data collected here, citizens' participation is not remarkably high, but even their modest cooperation may cause a great benefit if it is extrapolated to the whole city Results of a similar study run by Tehran's OWRC show the effects of a source separation program in the total and elemental waste generation in the first six months of 2004 (Figure 2). According to that study, the total amount of generated municipal waste and total separated recyclables gathered by the municipality were about 1,160,299.5 and 60,429.2 tons, respectively. The total percentage of waste separation is only 5.21%, but even such a small amount has an economic value of around $30,000 (U.S) per year.
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Data collected from OWRC of Tehran's municipality shows the cost of each process in source separation (Table 3). The same reference estimates the net value of one kilogram of recycled wastes to be 80c (U.S.). By considering sharp decreases in the cost of total waste collection and transport, as well as the benefits of land and underground waster resource preservation, this process makes economic sense.
TABLE 3 Approximate Cost of Each Process in the Program of Source Separation (in U.S. Dollars) Process Education Collection Temporary station Total Storage Maintenance Cost (per one 0.10 0.50 0.18 0.30 1.08 kilogram of dried waste)
Further accomplishment in this field requires infrastructure preparation. It is highly recommended that citizens be encouraged to participate more through media, bonuses, etc. Furthermore, creating a modified consumption pattern (waste minimization, use of recyclable rather than disposable containers, adoption of extra waste separation responsibilities, etc) for consumers and production patterns (green productivity, cleaner production, less packaging, etc.) for manufacturers must be considered through a nationwide long-term program.
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Acknowledgments: The authors acknowledge the Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, for kind scientific support.
Corresponding Author: Touraj Nasrabadi, PhD Student in Environmental Engineering, University of Tehran, Faculty of Environment, Azin Avenue, Ghods Street, Enghelab Sauare, #25, Tehran, Iran 1417853111. E-mail: email@example.com.
Touraj Nasrabadi, M.Sc. Hassan Hoveidi, M.Sc. Gholamreza Nabi Bidhendi, Ph.D. Ahmad Reza Yavari, Ph.D. Shahin Mohammadnejad, M.Sc.