As if we don’t have enough problems: trash piles up in Karachi

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By: Saman Siddiqui

How do you deal with your trash? We the folks of Karachi recycle our trash or just throw it away? These questions cross my mind as waste management is such a grave issue in Karachi. In recent past things have been pretty gross and this monsoon season has made it worse. We are usually familiar with the system of selling few of our unwanted trash items to the Teen Dabbay Wala. And rest of the items last in the dust bins, awaits to be picked up by the Kachray Wala from door to door. What treatment is given to the home picked trash? We all know after sorting out items, most of it lasts piled up in heaps all across the city.

All the garbage you see across the city and at garbage dumps Kachra Kundi is somehow self created problem, if tackled smartly it can be managed. Solid waste is generated as a natural consequence of human life. Approximately 12000 tons of waste is produced in Karachi on a daily basis, which keeps piling up for days or weeks within the city. It is then transported to dump sites. Solid waste which is not recycled is burnt or thrown away resulting in blockage of drainage system, causing severe damage to environment and raising health issues.  From transportation to disposal or dumping all involves a big cost and capital investment. Unfortunately, this is lacked by local government, from the Mayor of the city to other concerned authorities all seemed to be making the cry for non availability of funds. As a consequence we all witness Karachi in knee deep trash.

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In civilized countries trash is separated out at the source. There is a system of colour coded bins and collection of waste is carried out in a manner that waste could be recycled properly.

Certainly a proper mechanism is required for managing the solid waste for Karachi. The various organizations which work for waste management are surely not adequate enough for such vast population. Karachi is world’s 7th most populous city. Defiantly requires some serious efforts. But how long do we have to wait for the government to take steps to overcome the problem? Have the Chinese or Turkish companies been really effective for sorting out our garbage. As a responsible citizen we have to take responsibility.

It comes to this point why are we generating that much waste. We have to look up at our life styles, start taking measures to make city a better place. We all have heard of it ‘charity begins at home’, that doesn’t necessarily means to go out and start collecting up garbage from your locality and find a new spill ground to dump all of it. No, not at all! No one wants to collect garbage. When we can’t collect garbage, we need to stop producing it in such huge amount that it remains scattered all across the city.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germans sort 65% of their waste into an arrangement of colour coded bins to be collected for reuse or incineration. South Korea is on second number, where people recycle 59% of their trash produced. In U.S the recycling rate is 35%. In Turkey 99% of trash ends up in landfill. Other Western European nations are almost as keen as the Germans. Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden all recycle at least half of their municipal waste, according to the European Environment Agency.

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Yeah, yeah we live in Karachi, city of a third world country. All those above mentioned countries have resources and what so ever. But don’t we look forward to follow all those international trends and love to call ourselves modern. Then why can’t we adopt this habit to make the city clean and throwing garbage away without treating it at home. All it requires some small efforts collectively. We need to spread awareness and adopt this as a trend. Reduce; Reuse and Recycle, from now on keep these three Rs in your mind.

Next time you go for grocery, make effort to buy products which have less packaging. Avoid using plastic bags. Start compost pile from food scraps. It could be utilized for your plants. Print on the double side of paper, avoid making unnecessary printouts. Discourage use of disposable items. Use reusable containers instead of wrapping food in plastic wrap or bags. Sort out your trash at homes: Bones, Glass, Paper (Scrap/Cardboard), Plastics/Polyethylene
Tin/Metals, Rubber/tyres & tubes, Waste oil/grease. 60% of these items are biodegradable organic (vegetable, fruits matter and organic waste).

There is a desperate need to reduce our garbage generation. It should be considered as a primary goal. Public awareness must be built up for achieving this goal. Solid waste generation at the point of the source must be restricted.

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Story first published: 18th July 2017

Originally Posted on SamaaNews

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