UN-Habitat and UNESCAP have launched a pilot project for Solid Waste Management in the cities of Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Mardan.
The pilot project will be initiated through the establishment of Integrated Resource Recovery Centers (IRRC), a decentralized community-based recycling and composting facility. The IRRCs can be built and operated at low costs by using limited mechanical technology, ensuring low operational costs with minimal equipment breakdowns, while creating job opportunities.
In Pakistan, it is reported that an average of 54,888 tons of solid waste is generated each day. Most of the cities are not properly planned and upgraded with the ever increasing population. None of the cities have a proper solid waste management system. There is a void of a planned procedure from the collection of wastes to its disposal. This results in clogged drains and polluted ponds that are breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies. These wastes are a serious threat to public health and have spread life threatening diseases such as malaria and cholera especially among the children. Cities also lack solid waste disposal units; the uncollected waste-water is channeled through open grounds, settlements, agricultural land and eventually flows in open clean water. Most of the solid wastes is composed of poisonous and acidic materials such as plastic, rubber, metal, textile waster, animal waste, grass and is mixed with water sources which are being used for drinking by informal settlements and poor communities. These people do not have the financial resources, hence not being able to afford medical facilities.
Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Mardan are better planned than most of the cities in the country. They have adequate municipal committees but still lack the resources for proper waste disposal systems. There are not enough collection points, transportation facilities and units for disposal despite the size of the cities. Only half of the waste is properly disposed off. Since there are no disposal sites, the wastes are simply burned including non-degradable materials such as plastic bags, resulting in air pollution. The inorganic wastes are traded in and a recycling industry and market has developed in the informal sector. In some places, waste from vegetable markets are collected/purchased and composted.
Environmental waste management will support respective Municipal committees in an effort to build a clean and healthy urban areas and settlements. The project aims to develop an efficient waste collection and transfer system that will be associated with the Resource Recovery Centre. Thorough developing a proper solid waste management system, UN-Habitat aims towards waste minimization, recycle and reuse of waste materials and income generation resulting in environmental protection. Officials from the Ministry of Climate Change, City District Government-Rawalpindi and Capital Development Authority-Islamabad are involved in the planning as well as implementation phase of the project.