Disaster Waste Management
Why is it important?
Natural or man-made disasters will typically produce a huge amount of waste. Prior to any construction taking place, this waste has to be safely removed before it overwhelms existing disposal systems such as landfill, and becomes a health risk and a source of environmental pollution.
Environmental degradation & Greenhouse gase emissions
Disaster waste can contain hazardous waste which can be harmful to health and the environment either immediately or over an extended period. Stagnant polluted waters can become a source of waterborne diseases and incomplete decomposition of organic waste can degrade watercourses, and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Non-organic waste and debris can pollute and destroy ecosystems, prevent animal and human movement and pose risks to health and safety.
Appropriate control and disposal of hazardous waste is a humanitarian imperative. Not doing so will increase the risk to the affected population.
More Environmental Degradation Info
A break down synopsis of the entire degradation section would be useful here.
More Greenhouse info
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect which maintains the stable temperature of the Earth.
Since the Industrial Revolution there has been a 40% increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which is believed to be contributing to a change in the Earth’s climatic systems. Changes in this system is increasing the vulnerability of many populations.
Manage disaster waste streams
For more information on disaster waste streams click here ***ADD DROP DOWN***
Sources of acute risk should be identified as early as possible and further action should be restricted until clean-up or risk reduction measures are taken. The ‘transboundary movement and disposal’ of hazardous wastes is regulated under the Basel Convention – this list 47 different sources of potentially hazardous waste..
Emergency waste management
Information should be collected on industries affected by the disaster, on polluted sites and the quantity of leakages or emissions. Populations likely to affected should be warned, for example in terms of measures to be taken in case of intoxication, places and activities to avoid etc.
Planning of the location of emergency waste disposal sites should be conducted with local authorities to avoid contamination of water sources and agricultural land, disease vectors and odours. Waste should not be burnt, especially plastics, without a thorough Risk Assessment. Healthcare and other forms of hazardous waste should be disposed of using appropriate methods.
Identify potential for recycling of disaster waste. Recycling activities could provide valuable economic stimulus and provide substantial, even if temporary, employment for both displaced and host communities.
Global Wash Cluster – Disaster Waste Management.
Shelter Cluster – Quick guide to post disaster debris management.
United Nations Environment Programme & Groupe URD – Module 5: Waste management.
From URD/UNEP Training material:
- UNEP site with very useful handbooks on solid waste and WATSAN management.
- UNEP Post disaster unit environmental guidelines.
- UNEP Post disaster environmental assessments.
- UNEP disaster waste management guidelines.
- GTZ tool for calculating climate emissions of solid waste management.
- EU best practices reference library including very concrete information on solid waste management options (and possible environmental impacts).
- WHO Healthcare waste management.
- US EPA Solid waste and emergency response site.
- French site on waste management and planning with adapted technologies, including training material, links and lots of technical drawings.
- Domestic and Refugee Camp Waste Management Collection and Disposal and Handling and Storage of Hazardous wastes
- Composting of organic materials and recycling
WHO – Chemical safety.
UNDP – Chemical and waste management.
UNITAR – Chemicals and waste management.