Waste Disposal and Recycling in Rwanda: Challenges and Opportunities

Authors: John Bodenman*, Bloomsburg University, Jennifer Haney, Bloomsburg University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: municipal solid waste, Rwanda, landfills, recycling
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Municipal solid waste (MSW) generation and disposal has become a significant and growing global problem. Population growth, growing consumerism, lack of publically available disposal services, as well as the general lack of large and steady markets for recyclable materials, particularly for plastics, has exacerbated the waste generation and disposal problem, particularly in poor developing countries like Rwanda where plastics had become an exponentially growing component of the waste stream. Generally, waste disposal options exist on a spectrum ranging from open-air dumps to sanitary landfills. In Rwanda, the primary disposal site for Kigali, the country’s capital city and largest urban area, is the Nduba landfill, located in the Nduba sector of the Gasabo District, estimated to receive over 100 tons of waste per day, which authorities maintain does not meet environmental standards, thus putting the environment and health of the local population at all ready serious and increasing risk. Numerous challenges exist for effectively addressing the MSW generation and disposal problems in Rwanda. This paper outlines a number of these challenges, with a particular interest and focus on the sources, creation, and disposal of plastic waste. The analysis highlights several encouraging recent national laws regulating the use of plastic bags, as well as several small business developments that can serve as a model for creating both employment opportunities, as well as markets for recyclable materials—an important step toward helping to address the growing waste generation and disposal problems in Rwanda.

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