|The total amount of solid waste generated each year in the Asia-Pacific
region is about 700 million tonnes (Figure 21)
and industrial activities generate 1,900 million tonnes of waste per year
(ESCAP, 1995a). The total waste generated in the region amounts to 2.6
billion tonnes a year. The East Asia sub-region generates the most municipal
solid waste and calculations suggest that its share of the regional total
would increase to 60 per cent by the year 2000 because of the large population
base and the high growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP), particularly
in the People’s Republic of China (ESCAPE, 1995a).
The key issues associated with solid waste management, as highlighted
in the State of the Environment Report for the Asia Pacific (ESCAP, 1995a),
are the environmental health implications arising from inadequate coverage
of waste collection, improper storage prior to collection and poor standards
of disposal. It is estimated that 30–50 per cent of municipal solid waste
is not collected (ESCAP, 1995a).
The disposal of domestic and industrial waste is given relatively low
priority in many countries; only around 70 per cent of the waste in urban
municipal areas is collected and, of that, only about 5 per cent is treated
(ESCAP, 1995b). Solid waste disposal is a particular problem in the small
island states because of their limited land area. In some of these countries
solid waste has been used for land reclamation, resulting in contamination
and pollution of surrounding coastal areas.
Extensive and reliable data on the generation of hazardous wastes in
the Asia-Pacific region are not available. A rough estimate indicates that
about 100 million tonnes are produced annually with as much as 90 per cent
being generated in the People’s Republic of China and India (ESCAP, 1995a).
About 60–65 per cent of these wastes are disposed in landfills, 5–10 per
cent are dumped in the oceans, and only about 25 per cent are either incinerated
or subject to physico-chemical treatment (which is the most suitable method
of disposing of such wastes). However, there is growing awareness in the
region, especially in countries such as Japan, People’s Republic of China
and India, of methods for the detoxification of wastes and of their immobilization
by fabrication into bricks and other usable products (ESCAP, 1995a). Another
issue of concern is the traffic of wastes into the region.
Disposal of wastewater poses another problem. In many places untreated
domestic and industrial wastewaters are discharged directly into canals
and rivers. In 1992 about 68.6 per cent of industrial wastewater and 18.5
per cent of municipal wastewater generated in the People’s Republic of
China was treated (WRI/UNEP/UNDP, 1994). It is reported that of the 3,119
towns and cities in India, only 8 have full wastewater collection and treatment
facilities and 209 have partial treatment facilities (ESCAP, 1992). Some
Governments are in the process of taking measures to treat wastewater,
for example the Government of Thailand has agreed in principal to establish
a Central Waste Water Management Authority to consolidate policies and
institutions to deal with this matter. The Government is also envisaging
a role for private investments in setting up treatment plants (Government
of Thailand, 1994). In Singapore, 36 industries were prosecuted in 1993
for discharging acidic effluents into the sewers (ASEAN, 1995). In addition,
facilities for handling wastes and ensuring stringent enforcement of standards
have improved significantly.
The quantity of solid wastes being generated is increasing rapidly with
growing economic activity and the production and use of consumer items.
In addition, large quantities of industrial and hazardous waste, brought
about by an expansion in chemical-based industry in the region, has exacerbated
the waste management problem. Inadequate waste disposal and management
facilities present serious environmental health implications and will continue
to do so if corrective actions are not taken immediately. Such actions
include not only the establishment of regulatory mechanisms but also effective
enforcement of these regulations.