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Any suggestions to improve the solid waste management?

related country: Cambodia
related country: Cambodia

A question from Emma: We have tens of kilograms of rubbish to dispose of each day, mostly plastics bags, bottles and cups, or Styrofoam containers, but also beer cans, cardboard and other small items. Currently small burn piles are made, but often the fires burn out quickly leaving much of the rubbish behind. This is a problem as the rubbish is then blown by the wind or moved by monkeys in the area, and can then be eaten by other animals such as deer and kill them. It is also an eyesore for guests. There are 2 large landfills on site and rubbish is also dumped here, but they are filling up and this is not a solution we are happy with.

We are currently considering an onsite large incinerator, vastly reducing what we put to landfill, but are concerned about the harmful gases released. We would greatly appreciate your ideas for a rubbish disposal solution!

5 Answers


Dear Emma,

Regarding the remaining non-biodegradale waste, there are many things that can be done prior incineration. Also, the consider the De Monfort incinerator models have a capacity up to 18 kg/h, so they are excellent for medical waste, but may prove undersized for your needs.

Aluminum cans have most value, so you should start collecting them. If there is any scrap dealer in the region there is the potential for recycling.

Plastic bags, bottles and styrofoam can be compressed into blocks, called Ubuntu Blocks, developed in Haiti to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes.

If wood or charcoal are a common cooking fuel, then the cardboard could be turned into fuel briquettes: there are many designs for hand and mechanical presses, depending on the quantities available.


Dear Emma, There are two types of solid waste at home. (a) Biodegradable Solid Waste like leftover food, vegetables clippings, fruit peels, lawn clippings, Kitchen garden waste, cow dung , papers etc (b) Non- biodegradable Solid Waste like Card boards , plastics ( bottles, glasses ), thermocol plates etc. There is requirement to segregate Biodegradable and Non- biodegradable waste separately at home. Non- biodegradable waste can be sent separately for industrial recycling; whereas Biodegradable solid waste can be recycled at home by Vermicomposting process with the help of earth worms in a pit or in a small container. This is a most hygienic way of recycling Biodegradable solid waste and after three months period one can get nutrient rich Vermicompost (Organic fertilizer) as an end product; which can be utilised in fertilizing potted plants and in kitchen garden and one can produce organic food and vegetables at home. (The details of Vermicomposting process are available in the internet.) If we are able to create this awareness in our community then less garbage will come to the municipal garbage dump and less manpower and transport will be required for its transshipment. There will be saving in government exchequer. You will also not require vast tract of land for dumping of garbage as required in centralised system of garbage disposal. Wish you success in recycling of Biodegradable solid waste with Vermicomposting process. Col Binay Kumar Prakriti Biotech farm Hazaribag, Jharkhand India


To answer the question regarding the feasibility of using incineration for disposal of plastics and other combustible waste, I suggest that you look into the medical incinerator designs developed by Jim Picken's team at de Montford university:

These incinerators have been demonstrated to generate reasonably low concentrations of noxious gases and have been successfully used in medical facilities around the world. However, this is clearly not the most environmentally sound solution as recycling will be preferable.

Regarding disposal of biodegradable material, simple composting may be more appropriate than vermicomposting.

Neil Noble

Practical Action Consulting were involved in a projects some years ago which was focused on the implementation and assessment of MSW incinerators for developing countries, see I understand this was similar in design to the De Montford medical waste incinerator mentioned in other responses but intended to replace open burning of waste thus reducing the biological hazard of rubbish piles and reduce the emissions of harmful gases, although it does not eliminate these emissions.

And to reiterate other comments made, the waste should be separated if possible so that valuable elements such as metals can be sorted and sold on but as an interim step the incinerator may be a suitable.


Hi Emma, I am not sure how much the community (or the producers of waste) have been sensitized to the need for waste management. There are initiatives designed to involve the community such as Community-Led Total Sanitation https://www.communityledtotalsanitatio... which gets the community involved in the problem and its solution. It also tried to develop commitment to the solution. Not sure you are at this stage, but... just a thought. 'nando

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2015-01-23 08:31:23
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Last updated:
Mar 13 '15