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How Does Mauritius Deal With Solid Waste Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 4824 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Being an important ecological, economic and social or cultural resource, which is fundamental to the sustainable development, the environment has a positive impact on the standard of living of the local residents (Nautiyal.S and Kaedrele.H; 2007). Since the last two centuries, industrialization has supported a mushrooming and voracious population and have created massive prosperity; however, this growth has often been detrimental to the environment (Daily.B.F and Huang.S; 2001). The growing up of environmental problems that is associated to the rise in production and consumption of the population have resulted to the development of sustainability (Fortunski.B; 2008). The concept of sustainability is considered as being normative since it describes the way things should be done instead of describing how they are actually being done (Byrch et al; 2007). Sustainability or sustainable development is defined as an economic pillar that sustains the needs of the present population without putting constraints on the next generations to meet their needs and is based on its three fundamentals which are namely economic, social and environmental (Sarkis.J; Meade.L; & Presley.A; 2006).

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Since Mauritius is aiming towards ‘Maurice Ile Durable’ it is very important for both private and public organizations to adopt and implement Environmental Management System (EMS). Environmental management is not only a fact of awareness or public image, but beyond that; it is the way through which the performance and competitiveness of organizations are secured (Bahmed.L; Djebabra.M & Boubaker.L; Boukhalfa.A; 2009). It is not only the duty of private or public enterprises to ensure that the environment is sustainably managed, but also the responsibility of each and every individual to adopt the good practice of managing the environment sustainably. Waste of natural resources and creation of all types of pollution are generally areas that urgently need to be considered.

Waste management is one of the prior conditions for the sustainability of any country (Schneider.D.R & Bogdan.Z; 2011). The inappropriate link between consumers’ demand for goods (and the consequence of generated waste) and the ability of the local authorities to collect and handle this waste (Cardinali.R; 2001), has resulted into a heavily disturbed environment.

Solid waste can be considered as the universal pollutant. It has always contributed to the human condition as long as man has been a biological species. Most of the consequences resulted from solid waste are similar to those of air and water pollution. They are aesthetically displeasing, they can pose threat to human health and they represent a loss of useful resources. Only recently with the concept of sustainability and the rising awareness on the consequences of ineffective waste management, that the concern of local authorities on environmental health demands the effective management and disposal of waste, in order to reduce and where possible eradicate its capacity to cause harm to humans, plants, animals and natural resources (Ayotamuno.M.J & Gobo.E.A; 2004).


The aim of this assignment is to analyze the extent to which municipal solid waste is sustainably managed in Mauritius.

1.2 Objectives

The objectives behind this study are:

to assess the impacts of wastes and waste disposal methods on humans and the environment,

to assess how far solid waste management is leading to Mauritius Green Island

to assess the health and safety aspect in solid waste management

Chapter 2

Literature Review

2.0 Introduction

Waste management which has always formed part of the human society consists of waste prevention, reuse, recycling of materials, composting, energy recovery and final disposal. The mushrooming of the world’s population, increasing industrialization, improving quality of life, and developments in technology have all resulted in an increase in both the quantity and the different types of solid wastes generated by industries, households and other activities (UNEP,1991). The problems of dealing with large amount of waste materials arise specially in developing countries where these changes have not been met by developments in waste-management technologies (Wilson & Balkau, 1990). Domestic solid waste has become a health and environmental hazard in many developing countries as a result of careless handling and a failure to make arrangement for appropriate solid waste collection techniques. It is a common belief that improving solid waste management (SWM) implies making waste collection and disposal systems more efficient, raising residents’ awareness and enforcing SWM laws and regulations (Obeng.P.A; Donkor.A.E& Mensah.A; 2009).

2.1 Definition of solid waste

Solid waste can be defined as “a different types of solid materials and also some liquids in cans, that are disposed as being spent, useless, worthless or in excess” (Nemerow.L.N, Gardy.A.J.F, Sullivan.P and Salvato.A.J; 2009)

2.2 Classification of solid waste

The classification of solid waste is based on the content, moisture and heating value. An example of classification is as follows:

Garbage refers to the biodegradable solid waste constituents, obtained during the preparation or storage of food (meat, fruits, and vegetables). These wastes water content of about 70% and a heating value of around 6ooooookg (Rao,1991)

Rubbish refers to non-putrecible solid waste constituents either combustible (paper, wood, scrap) or non-combustible (metals, glasses ceramics). These wastes contain about 25% of water and the heating value of the waste is around 15000000kg (Rao, 1991).

Solid waste can be further classified based on the source of the solid waste:

Domestic waste

Commercial waste

Institutional waste

Industrial waste

Agricultural waste

2.3 Sources and Types of solid wastes

Table 1.0 below shows different source & types of solid wastes produced


Typical locations where wastes are generated

Types of solid wastes

Municipal wastes (domestic, commercial, institutional)

Residential, open areas (street)

Food wastes, rubbish, paper

Industrial wastes

Factory wastes

Organic wastes from food processing, metallic sludges

Agricultural wastes

Forestry wastes

Crop residues, animal manure

Mining & Quarrying wastes

Mining minerals

Rock, topsoil

Energy generation wastes

Thermal power plants

Fly ash

Source: Peavy, Rowe & Tchobanoglous (1985)

Since, domestic waste, commercial waste and institutional wastes are collected and transported by similar authorities, that is the municipal council or district council, they are usually group together and called Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).

2.4 What is solid waste management?

Solid waste management is considered as a serious matter in different parts of the world. The unexpected increase of waste production emphasizes on the necessity of a right balance in the various technological facilities for the collection and treatment of waste, taking into consideration the existing regulations, economic constraints, environmental issues and also public acceptance, (Caputo.C.A, Pelagagge.M.P and Scacchia.F; 2002).

Solid waste management can be defined as “practical measures that ensure the proper functioning of collection, transport, processing, treatment and disposal of solid waste”. The global concern about environmental health suggests that wastes be managed in an efficient manner and disposed of in an acceptable way, in order to reduce and or where possible get rid of its potential dangers that are posed to human beings and the environment as a whole, (Robinson 1986).

2.5 The need for municipal solid waste management

The need for municipal solid waste management arose since the effects of solid waste in the environment outweigh the benefits. The following illustrate some examples of improper solid waste management.

Public Health Problems and Diseases

The uncontrolled fermentation of garbage provides the food source and habitat for bacterial growth. Furthermore, there is proliferation of insects, flies, mosquitoes and some birds which act as passive vectors in the transmission of some infectious diseases.

Aesthetic consideration

Dumping of solid waste everywhere and failure to collect those wastes in a proper way, not only provide rooms for the growth and spreading of mosquitoes and insects, but also give rise to strong odour and lead to an unsightly and unpleasant environment.

Air Pollution

Uncontrolled and incomplete combustion of solid waste materials can result in a number of unwanted air pollutants including particulate matter, smoke, sulphur dioxide and other noxious gases from the burning of plastic materials.

Thus by analyzing the few health hazards and environmental impacts of solid waste, we conclude that a safe and environmentally and economically sustainable solid waste management plan is indispensable.

2.6 General solid waste management in Mauritius

In Mauritius, it is the local authorities which consist of five municipalities for urban areas and four district councils for rural regions, private sectors such as Securiclean, Maxiclean, Atics among others, and the Ministry of Local Government which carry out waste collection. The Chief Health Inspector in all the five municipalities controls the operation of collection, disposal and street cleaning. The officer is also responsible for transport allocation and operation, including control of drivers, except in Port-Louis where transport and drivers are on the establishment of the City Engineer’s department.

There exist a similar structure in the three district councils concerning the management and operational transport. However since the labour force is small, employees from the government are supplemented to perform the work.

The frequency of collection regarding domestic refuse varies from twice a week to once monthly between local authorities. The collection of commercial or trade waste in urban and rural areas is treated as a main concern and a daily service is provided.

With respect to storage, some municipalities have provided plastic bins and plastic bags to the residents. This has facilitated the collection process. All waste collected by the district and municipal council and the private contractors are disposed of directly to a dump site or to a transfer station where the waste is processed and compacted before dumping. (Source: http://localgovernment.gov.mu)

Chapter 3

3.0 Profile of the study area


Figure 2.0 – Municipalities & District Councils of Mauritius

Source: (http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/mlge/menuitem.f9c1c444c628df3cb3347524e2b521ca/)


Municipality of Port-Louis

Municipality of Beau-Bassin/ Rose-Hill

Municipality of Quatre-Bornes

Municipality of Vacoas/ Phoenix

Municipality of Curepipe

Pamplemousses/ Riviere du Rempart District Council

Moka/ Flacq District Council

Grand Port / Savanne District Council

Black River District Council

Chapter 4

4.0 Findings and Discussions

4.1 Findings

On our visit to the municipality of Beau Bassin / Rose- Hill, we found that municipal solid wastes are not sustainably managed. As we have been told by a senior Health Inspector Mr. Beefnah Kishan, the true reason why the proper management is not being done is because there is a lack of willingness from the local authorities, and that the municipality alone cannot take this initiative since it is a very costly project. We found that the municipality is only trying to sensitize the people about living in a clean environment. We have been told that even with the sensitization campaign, the local inhabitants are not abiding by the basic elementary principles which according to the authorities, is a demarcation line for sustainable solid waste management. For instance, during our visit we noticed that though people are aware that there are two separate bins available (at plaza) for waste disposal, that is, one for plastic wastes only and the other for any other kind of wastes, they throw their waste carelessly. We have been told that as far as the municipality is concerned, their duties and responsibilities are being respected they are maintaining their efforts to preserve the environment.

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Furthermore, from the findings we got at the municipality of Vacoas/ Phoenix, we found that the idea of managing municipal solid wastes in Mauritius has not yet come into existence. As we were told by the Chief Health Inspector Mr. Lobin, there is a lack of mindset on behalf of the local authorities. The authorities take only the cost factor into consideration, they missed the point that investing in this project will be a long term benefits. During our meeting with the Chief Health Inspector, he also pointed out clearly that collection and disposal of wastes is the only responsibilities of the municipalities, and managing wastes is the responsibility of the local authorities.

Moreover, we also had a visit at the Moka/ Flacq District Council, where again we found that the idea of sustainable solid waste management is only an idea. We were told by two assistant Health Inspectors, Mr. Aumeer Imteaz and Mr. Chitbauhaal Foorkhan, that the District Council at present is only working towards “keeping the environment clean”, by maintaining their responsibilities and duties, and by organizing different awareness campaign programmes. But concerning the sustainable management of solid waste, nothing yet has been done. According to these persons, in order to realize the project of managing solid waste sustainably, first and foremost the local authorities should have the willingness and afterwards others will follow.

Finally, during our visit to the Ministry of Local Government, we have met with the Senior Project Officer Mr. Dookee Ganesh, who confirmed that municipal solid wastes are not sustainably managed in Mauritius. According to the project officer, managing municipal solid waste sustainably is a big and costly project and it will take time. He however pointed out that to some extent wastes are being managed though not sustainably, in the sense that some wastes (plastics) are being recycled, some other types of wastes are being incinerated and the rests are sent to the landfill site at Mare Chicose.

4.2 Overall Discussions

Efficient waste management is one of the best ways for sustainable development of any country, (Schneider.D.R & Bogdan, 2011). Sustainable and effective planning on waste management is lacking, although many initiatives are in progress, notably in the area of legislation (Mohee.R, 2002). We do agree that managing municipal solid wastes sustainably is a big and costly project, but the government needs to realize that managing municipal solid waste sustainably is an investment and not a cost. In the long run, the results will reflect the investment; the benefits will outweigh the cost.

From the findings we obtained, we have understood that wastes that are not being recycled are either incinerated or sent to the landfill site. Some types of wastes such as metals, glass, paper and plastics are not to be burnt since they can be recycled, but unfortunately not 100% of the recyclable wastes that are sent to the recycling industries. Since organic wastes consist of large amount of water, therefore the quantity of energy that is needed to dehumidify these might be more than what the incinerator produces. Furthermore, incinerators release huge amount of smoke. Similarly, landfill is not an option. Like we have at Mare Chicose, it seems to be worse than incinerators. It does not only result in visual impact, but it is also very polluting. Critically speaking, municipal solid wastes are not sustainably managed in Mauritius. The ways or techniques used in Mauritius to manage municipal solid wastes seem to be an irony, since the reason behind managing wastes is first and foremost to protect the environment and human beings by preventing pollution, but the reality is that the means that are being used to manage these wastes are sources of pollution.

One of the major issues in Mauritius is ignorance. People are not enough aware of the fragility of the environment. If fines are not imposed, people will not change their habits of throwing wastes everywhere. It must be realized that it may be the responsibility of the authorities to manage wastes, but the wastes’ producers are the inhabitants. Large amount of solid wastes are generated from households, therefore people should be made aware that wastes as such do not exist, it is only when not in use that the resources become wastes. Furthermore, tourists produce huge amounts of wastes, mainly during the peak tourism period, making it difficult for the local authorities to manage waste with their limited capacities, (Mohee.R, 2002).

We believe that managing municipal solid wastes sustainably cannot be done at one go. However, there exist some effective techniques that can be adopted to ensure that solid waste is properly managed and thus making a way for the sustainable management. For instance, waste management hierarchy which includes the effective techniques can be adopted by the local people.

The waste management hierarchy is a widely accepted order of waste management options. The European Council in its Waste Directive of 1991 sets the hierarchy of waste management options as follows:

Waste prevention


Safe disposal

Chapter 5

5.0 Recommendation & Conclusion

5.1 Recommendation

Mauritius is a small island and due to land scarcity, it can neither have many landfills nor have all its wastes recycled. But it should be noted that incineration is not the ideal solution to this problem; it will rather encourage more wastes to be produced. First of all the Government should try to implement a zero waste policy. The use of plastics bags should be forbidden. Sorting of wastes should be encouraged to be done at home or onsite itself (plastics/organic/metals). Electronic gadgets should be made in such a way that they can be processed for parts that can be recycled and the toxic elements disposed of in the proper way and not burnt. If some of the steps are implemented, there will be nothing to get incinerated or a minimum amount of wastes would be burnt.

Therefore, the followings are some of the proposed ideas towards sustainable municipal solid waste management:

Policy planning and Strategy

Solid waste management plans

First of all there should be solid waste management plans in place. Waste management plans have essential roles to play towards sustainable waste management. Their primary purpose is to provide an outline of sources of wastes and treatment options. Waste management plans, national as well as local/regional are essential tools helping in the implementation and achievement of policies and targets that have been set up. Furthermore, the plans give an outline of the amount of wastes to be managed. Also, they contribute to ensuring that the capacity and the way of collection and treatment systems are coherent with the waste to be managed. The plans also identify areas in which technological measures should be taken to get rid of or minimize certain types of waste. Moreover, waste management plans make way for a statement of financial requirements for the operation of collection schemes and treatment of waste among others. On this basis, the needs for further investments in waste treatment plans may be determined. As a solution to many waste management problems, the involvement of several participants/authorities are required and coherent planning helps to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort and thus benefits all participants, (EU Commission, Environment, 2003).

Zero-waste policy

The aim of this policy should be geared towards a sustainable economy. The purpose is to minimize consumption to a reasonable extent by using design-for-environment in every product and their packaging, and to make them all recyclable. The determining factors to achieve Zero Waste are the products’ designs and industrial processes, that is, their components should be made in such a way that they can be easily disassemble, repaired and/or converted into reusable materials. Zero Waste implies merging communities, businesses and industries such that one’s waste becomes another’s feedstock, which results in preventing pollution at its source. By implementing the Zero waste policy, the discharge of highly toxic materials to land, water, or air that threaten the planetary, human, animal or plant health can be eliminated, (Recycling Council of British Columbia, 2009).

Management of Municipal Solid Waste

Waste Minimization

Waste minimization is considered as a waste management approach that emphasizes on decreasing the amount and toxicity of hazardous waste that is generated. It is believed that waste minimization methods that focus on avoiding waste from ever being created, (source reduction) and recycling is encouraged. There are three general methods of waste minimization: source reduction, recycling, and treatment, (Scott.W.D, 2005). Waste minimization can be achieved by reusing materials. In doing so, materials which were bound to become waste can be used again and there will be no need for recycling, combustion for energy purpose and disposal of waste materials to landfill. This can lead to a reduction in waste management costs. However this can effectively be done by planning, fabricating, buying, or making use of materials in a way that reduce the amount of trash created, less waste is created and fewer natural resources are used.

Waste Sorting

Waste sorting should be done at home and this can be achieved by the help of the local authorities, in the sense that, the three bins system should be implemented and there should be continual training and education awareness programmes. People should be taught how to use this system effectively and the reason behind using it. The three bins can either be coloured differently or labelled in order to facilitate the users to dispose their wastes in the corrective way. Waste sorting helps in achieving a sustainable environment, in the sense that recyclable wastes will be disposed separately and thus can be sent directly to the recycling industries and other wastes can be processed accordingly. This will save time and cost of labour also.


Composting is the decomposition of organic matter by microorganism in warm, moist, aerobic and anaerobic environment. There are different ways to do composting. It varies from simple and cheap backyard or onsite composting methods to more costly and sophisticated methods such as in-vessel composting. For materials such as food scraps and other materials which are degradable, adoption of proven technologies for processing such waste as backyard composting can be used; as this can reduce the amount of waste destined for disposal. Inhabitants can then sell the compost to nearby farmers and other users. Government should favour and stimulate the development and acceptance of appropriate technologies for the conversion of municipal solid waste to compost and promote markets for its use as a soil amendment. It can also be noted that inhabitant can use the soil conditioner obtained from composting to grow their own vegetables and crops. This is a good path towards sustainability and it demands patience and cooperation. However this project may take time to develop in Mauritius because there is lack of willingness on the part of communities, local authorities and other parties such as the informal sector and the formal waste collector.

Best practices

Enforcing Law

To achieve a sustainable waste management, the Government must take actions against those who by-pass the law by throwing wastes haphazardly. The ‘pay- as -you -throw’ program should be put in place and the local authorities must ensure that the legal duty to abide by this particular program is imposed on all people in the country, including tourists.

The government should enforce a law for the purchase of recycled products such as paper, re-refined oil, and retread tires by recycling companies all over the island. Companies who are willing to do recycling, should be subsidised to provide a special bin for recyclable materials and also for the collection purpose. This will encourage people not to throw those materials which can be transformed in valued resources once more, hence reducing the waste which was bound to be incinerated or landfilled.

Education and awareness

There should be a continuous awareness programme in place, so that every person gets well accustomed to the new techniques of municipal solid waste management. There should also be public education so that people are not only made aware of the new techniques, but also that they can understand the reasons behind managing municipal solid wastes sustainably. The public should know and understand the importance of sustainable development.

For example, when doing shopping, people should always look for the labels of a product to ascertain its recyclability. This will encourage the production of recycled-content products. People, can practice bulk buying and make greater use of plastics containers for refillable products. People should be made aware of the benefits of buying products refillable in containers and also bulk buying. They can save money and also reduce packaging waste in so doing. They should avoid products of unnecessary packaging when choosing between two similar one.

Close neighbours or family should be willing to share recent newspapers or magazines. This can maximise the use of such items and lead to a reduction in the generation of wastes. Even for old tools, equipments or other materials which can still be used, willingness on the part of people should exist to ask friends, relatives, neighbours or community groups if they can use them before it is discarded. Inhabitants of communities should be willing organise a special day for donating or reselling goods to organisation in need such as clothes, furniture’s and reading materials.

Local or regional programs to collect compostable material should be set up with the help of public officials or community leaders. If people cannot do composting at their places, they must collect all the compostable materials and give it to their neighbours who are involved in gardening or crop growing.

These values should be inculcated at school itself. Environmental education should be introduces at schools, where students will learn how to do source reduction, reuse or recycling and composting.

5.2 Conclusion

The severity of waste management problems in Mauritius has long been recognized. The impact of municipal solid waste on the environment is greatly determined by the way this waste is handled, (Ludwig et al., 2004). The lack of suitable disposal sites has affected the environment. New technologies have been developed in order to help in the treatment of waste and in safe disposal. Other technologies will be set up for the recovery of material and energy in the near future. There are key issues that need to be considered in sustainable management, such as the environmental performance of technologies and the economic costs.

After subsequent analysis of the whole solid waste management system in Mauritius, it has been found that the actual system is not enough to manage municipal solid waste effectively. To manage municipal solid waste sustainably in Mauritius, the existing system should be reviewed and problems should be tackled preferably at source, and if not possible, then appropriate mechanisms for safe disposal should be installed in an effort to combat the increasing volume of untreated solid waste dumped into canals and drains or any other open dumping sites, (United States Agency for International Development, 2005).


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