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Cooperatives and small-scale enterprises in solid waste re-use and recycling.

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COOPERATIVES AND SMALL-SCALE ENTERPRISES IN SOLID WASTE RE-USE AND RECYCLING. ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY. TANIA MARTIN CRUZ APRIL 2002 INTRODUCTION Managing municipal solid waste is a major concern all over the world, but particularly in the cities of low-income countries which generate forty per cent of the world's total. As population growth has continued the problem has threatened many municipalities. In low- income countries only around a third of waste is being collected, and of this, only a small portion, is properly disposed of. All this creates health and environmental problems. All these points make informal activities an integral and important part of the existing solid waste management arrangements in low-income countries. In South-Asia the most common informal activities are recycling and primary collection of municipal wastes. My assumption is that this informal sector is very important, not only does it contribute to alleviate waste management problems in low-income areas, but also it provides a more economical, technical and environmentally efficient service than large- scale businesses or the municipal service. It does not need large investment to be set up. The small enterprises and cooperatives use environmentally friendly techniques and apply indigenous knowledge in their operations. Such activities provide an important service and employment for large number of unskilled workers. To many disadvantaged groups, waste offers unique opportunities for creating jobs because it is labour intensive, needs little capital, can be sold for cash, is familiar and the process of waste recycling meets universal approval. To support my assumption I have chosen the case-study of The Payatas in the Philippines, where A NGO has been in charge of setting up a cooperative to carry out waste recycling activities and compost production. I have chosen this case-study because it reflects the advantages of the informal sector I want to stress and because The Philippines is one of the countries in Asia that needs immediate solutions for the problem of waste due to its increasing population, and its increase in amount of waste. ...read more.


Their work was to sell the recyclable materials to small entrepreneurs who sort, clean and bundle them, transport and resell them to factories where they were recycled. In short their function was the recycling and sale of economically valuable waste materials and to compost the organic waste in order to sell it. They were designed to be an economically efficient and environmentally beneficial component of the urban waste management system. Because the technique used was based in indigenous knowledge and it used relatively inexpensive materials it is an easily replicable process. The service costs and financing were the following (Carcellar, 1997:5): - Equipment: US$ 26,700. Grant. - Administration: US$ 23,000 per year. Grant. - Training: US$ 11,500 per year. Grant. - Loan fund: US$ 230,000. Grant and local saving. The results show that this cooperative is serving several functions in society. It has captured value from materials that until recently were considered to be waste; it is an example of appropriate technology for labour surplus economies, it provides opportunities for employment generation. It also provides environmental benefits using environmentally sound waste management and helps the municipal government through avoided waste disposal and waste transport costs: most of the recyclable materials are removed by waste pickers before the waste is collected so space is saved at the final disposal site and the costs of transporting waste to the final dumping are reduced. Finally, they contribute to the efficiency of the formal sector by providing raw materials from recovered waste at comparatively low prices. The organisation was fully recognised by government agencies and was supported by donors. The Foundation was working in partnership with other organisations which had an important function within the Payatas Environmental Development Project: the Philippines Partnership of Support Service Organisation which addresses the social marketing and networking needs of the project; Green Forum Philippines which provides technical assistance and advocacy for ecological consciousness; and the UN volunteers-South East Asia Regional Programme which extend support for research and documentation. ...read more.


- Capital finance and costs recovery: for instance, strengthen micro finance institutions, seek alternatives to develop support systems, recognise the role of the donors but focus in start-up capacity building and entrepreneurs skills, to use charges and so on. - Capacity building in technical skills: for example, encourage information exchange and associations. - Citizen responsibility and public cooperation: promote source segregation, awareness campaign, environmental education... - Enabling the environment for scaling-up operations: Integrate solid waste recovery in municipal solid waste management. To conclude the need for an efficient solid waste management calls for an integration of this informal sector on resource recovery with the municipal service, it would be: collection and separation of recyclables, transport of recyclable wastes to stations or recycling centres, distribution of recyclable wastes and final disposal of residual wastes(UNEP, 1994: 4-10). However, the integration is seen by the authorities as an increase in costs and they do not take into account that it can increase refuse collection but decrease landfill disposal costs and transport costs. The industry can be a beneficiary of this process, using recycled materials can decrease the costs on raw materials. CONCLUSION All the arguments given above demonstrate that small-scale sector has a great potential to be effective, although some key challenges need to be addressed (Carcellar, 1997:5): - Institutionalisation of people's organisation: it needs more promotion. An efficient urban solid waste management service should be comprised of appropriate combinations of public, private and community involvement. It may need governmental support to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of recycling operations. - Technically the cooperatives and small-scale enterprises must concentrate on product development and occupational health practices. - The financial challenge refers to the capacity of achieve financing of capital-intensive investments. However, the facts are clears: they are an important part of solid waste management. The informal sector involved in solid waste collection and recovery has helped to achieve environmental goals, contribute to economic and social goals by providing opportunities to earn a living and helping municipal service by reducing collection costs. ...read more.

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