Solid waste management standard 1: Collection and disposal
- Involve the affected population in the design and implementation of the solid waste disposal programme (see guidance note 1).
Organise periodic solid waste clean-up campaigns (see guidance note 1).
- Consider the potential for small-scale business opportunities or supplementary income from waste recycling (see guidance note 3).
- In conjunction with the affected population, organise a system to ensure that household waste is put in containers for regular collection to be burned or buried in specified refuse pits and that clinical and other hazardous wastes are kept separate throughout the disposal chain (see guidance note 3).
- Remove refuse from the settlement before it becomes a health risk or a nuisance (see guidance notes 2–6).
- Provide additional waste storage and collection facilities for host families, reflecting the additional waste accumulation in disaster situations.
- Provide clearly marked and appropriately fenced refuse pits, bins or specified area pits at public places, such as markets and fish processing and slaughtering areas (see guidance notes 3–6).
- Ensure there is a regular refuse collection system in place (see guidancenotes 3–6).
- Undertake final disposal of solid waste in such a manner and place as to avoid creating health and environmental problems for the host and affected populations (see guidance notes 6–7).
- Provide personnel who deal with the collection and disposal of solid waste material and those involved in material collection for recycling with appropriate protective clothing and immunisation against tetanus and hepatitis B (see guidance note 7).
- In the event that the appropriate and dignified disposal of dead bodies is a priority need, coordinate with responsible agencies and authorities dealing with it (see guidance note 8).
- All households have access to refuse containers which are emptied twice a week at minimum and are no more than 100 metres from a communal refuse pit (see guidance note 3).
- All waste generated by populations living in settlements is removed from the immediate living environment on a daily basis, and from the settlement environment a minimum of twice a week (see guidance notes 1–3).
- At least one 100-litre refuse container is available per 10 households, where domestic refuse is not buried on-site (see guidance note 3).
- There is timely and controlled safe disposal of solid waste with a consequent minimum risk of solid waste pollution to the environment (see guidance notes 4–6).
- All medical waste (including dangerous waste such as glasses, needles, dressings and drugs) is isolated and disposed of separately in a correctly designed, constructed and operated pit or incinerator with a deep ash pit, within the boundaries of each health facility (see guidance notes 4–7).
- Planning and implementation: Solid waste disposal should be planned and implemented in close consultation and coordination with the affected population and relevant agencies and authorities. This should start in the beginning of the intervention before a solid waste problem becomes a major health risk to the affected population. Depending on the context, periodic clean-up campaigns need to be organised in consultation with the population and responsible local authorities.
- Burial of waste: If waste is to be buried on-site in either household or communal pits, it should be covered daily with a thin layer of earth to prevent it attracting vectors such as flies and rodents where it might become their breeding ground. If children’s faeces/nappies are being disposed of, they should be covered with earth directly afterwards. Disposal sites should be fenced off to prevent accidents and access by children and animals. Care should be taken to prevent any leachate contaminating the groundwater.
- Refuse type and quantity: Refuse in settlements varies widely in composition and quantity, according to the amount and type of economic activity, the staple foods consumed and local practices of recycling and/or waste disposal. The extent to which solid waste has an impact on people’s health should be assessed and appropriate action taken if necessary. Household waste should be collected in refuse containers for disposal in a pit for burying or incineration. Where it is not possible to provide refuse containers for each household, communal refuse containers should be provided. Recycling of solid waste within the community should be encouraged, provided it presents no significant health risk. Distribution of commodities that produce a large amount of solid waste from packaging or processing on-site should be avoided.
- Medical waste: Poor management of healthcare waste exposes the population, healthcare workers and waste handlers to infections, toxic effects and injuries. In a disaster situation, the most hazardous types of waste are likely to be infectious sharps and non-sharps (wound dressings, blood-stained cloth and organic matter such as placentas, etc.). The different types of waste should be separated at source. Non-infectious waste (paper, plastic wrappings, food waste, etc.) can be disposed of as solid waste. Contaminated sharps, especially used needles and syringes, should be placed in a safety box directly after use. Safety boxes and other infectious waste can be disposed of on-site by burial, incineration or other safe methods (see Health systems standard 1, guidance note 11).
- Market waste: Most market waste can be treated in the same way as domestic refuse. Slaughterhouse and fish-market waste may need special treatment and facilities to deal with the liquid waste produced and to ensure that slaughtering is carried out in hygienic conditions and in compliance with local laws. Slaughter waste can often be disposed of in a large covered pit next to the abattoir or fish processing plant. Blood, etc., can be run from the abattoir or fish processing plant into the pit through a slab-covered channel (which should help reduce fly access to the pit). Water should be made available for cleaning purposes.
- Controlled tipping and or sanitary landfill: Large-scale disposal of waste should be carried out off-site through either controlled tipping or sanitary landfill. This method is dependent upon sufficient space and access to mechanical equipment. Ideally, waste that is tipped should be covered with earth at the end of each day to prevent scavenging and vector breeding.
- Staff welfare: All involved in the collection, transport, disposal and recycling of solid waste should be provided with protective clothing, including at minimum gloves but ideally overalls, boots and protective masks. When necessary, immunisation against tetanus and hepatitis B should also be provided. Water and soap should be available for hand and face washing. Staff who come into contact with medical waste should be informed of the correct methods of storage, transport and disposal and the risks associated with improper management of the waste.
- Management of dead bodies: The management and/or burial of dead bodies from natural disasters should be dealt with in an appropriate and dignified manner. It is usually handled by search and recovery teams, in coordination with responsible government agencies and authorities. The burial of people who have died due to communicable diseases also needs to be managed appropriately and in consultation and coordination with health authorities (see Health systems standard 1, guidance note 12). Further information on how to deal with appropriate burial of dead bodies can be obtained from the materials in the References and further reading section.