Changes to household waste collection by WAMCO

Sustainability directives take a positive turn with WAMCO's newest policy change.

WAMCO has recently announced that all household waste must be segregated into three parts for collection from June 2022 onwards. WAMCO as a state enterprise for waste management has been a pioneering move for the Maldives, and this latest policy change is yet another step in the right direction.

Ever since the proper establishment of its services in 2016, Waste Management Corporation Limited (WAMCO) has been conducting the waste removal and disposal of both household and commercial waste in the Greater Male' area. Their work also includes the daily delivery of waste to the Thilafushi landfill as well, along with the disposal of such waste at the landfill by incineration.

By April 2022, they had disclosed that the corporation collects an average of 132 tonnes of waste daily, with this year’s Ramadan breaking that record with 200 tonnes daily. In addition to household waste collection, the company also offers the much-needed Call and Pickup Service (CAPS) for bulkier waste, such as furniture and the like, which is a service active on any day of the week, according to their website.

With all these conveniences, and the convenience of a simple monthly fee from each household to ensure continued service, WAMCO has been conducting unyielding service and employing a multitude of locals in the workforce as well. What had once been a service done individually by mainly expatriates, household waste disposal has become a generalised and standardised routine service, accompanied by the sights of their trucks coursing through the city streets in quick succession.

Their announcement for all household waste to be segregated is actually long overdue. The Maldives being heralded as a role model in matters of the environment has been shifting the direction of historical waste management policies to a more nature-friendly, sustainable path. The incinerators that were funded by donors from around the world were but the first of many steps to descale the immensely towering landfill that is Thilafushi, or ‘trash island’, in the Greater Malé Region. Segregation of waste from the source point would further assist in carving a more sustainable waste disposal system.

Waste segregation helps in lessening the bulk of waste destined for the landfill. Common household waste is expected to include food stuffs, paper and paper products, tin cans and other aluminium containers, and also single-use plastic materials. When these items are separated, recycling is made an easier task, and so is the finer sorting of plastics according to their classification. Even the tins in which the local favourite tuna, or, ‘mas-dhalhu’, is being consumed from, can now be directly recycled and pumped back into the supply chain, further lessening the costs of the raw materials needed for the canned food industry.

WAMCO requests households to separate their wastes into three types: plastic bottles (which include items ranging from detergent bottles to water bottles), organics (which are considered ‘wet’ garbage), and others (which include waste that is described as dry). The latter includes paper, glass, tins, and fabric, as well as certain plastic and fibre items, as well as batteries, according to the helpful leaflet being circulated by WAMCO.

Furthermore, the company also requests that plastic containers and food containers under the ‘others’ description be emptied of any residual fluid and are wiped down before disposal. This may be an action that is not common in most Maldivian households, but the company’s insistence and optimism may well bring about a change in the society in this regard. Another crucial point to note is how tissues, sanitary pads, and nappies are also to be considered as ‘organics’. 

Unless there is enough reminders being put out by the media as well as information made clearer as to what is now being expected of households in waste disposal, it would take a substantial while for the changes to be implemented at the source. However, as hard as it might sound, this is, once again, a step truly in the right direction, and would open the doors for individual and commercial recycling opportunities in addition to easing the load of the landfill.

For the benefit of the readers, please find their brochure linked below.

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