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The term ‗waste‘has a different meaning for different people. In general, waste is unwanted‘for the person who discards it; a product or material that does not have a value anymore for the first user and is therefore thrown away. But ‗unwanted‘ is subjective and the waste could have value for another person in a different circumstance, or even in a different culture (Van de Klundert and Justine, 2001). There are many large industries that operate primarily or exclusively using waste materials such as paper and metals as their industrial raw materials. In the context of Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM), waste is regarded both as valueless and as a useful material providing a potential source of income. This real value of waste in many low-and middle-income countries (developing countries) is confirmed by the huge informal sector that lives on waste collection and recovery (Van de Klundert and Justine, 2001). 

Waste, either in solid or liquid form is being produced since the dawn of human existence and it is not excessive to say, waste is the first thing generated before people are able to contribute to the betterment of lives. Due to social and environmental consequences, waste reuse, recycle and recovery have become essentials in minimizing the environmental damage that could occur through indiscriminate waste disposal (Sivapalan, Mohamad, Mohamad, and Muhd-Noor, 2005). 

Davies (2008) notes that ―what some people consider to be waste materials or substances are considered a source of value by others‖ This relative attribute of waste can be compared with the concept of ‗resource‘ which has also been defined as material that has use-value and ―a reflection of human appraisal‖ (Jones and Hollier, 1977). Just as a material becomes a resource when it gains use-value, it also becomes waste when it loses its use-value. Like resources, waste is also a relative concept of human appraisal because what constitutes waste can vary from one person to another, one society to another and over time. As noted by Jessen (2002) ―our waste stream is actually full of resources going in the wrong direction‖. 

Waste reuse and recycling as an alternative management option for waste is now recognized as an important approach to solving waste problem both in developed and developing world. Resource recovery from dumped consumer products is growing in significance, as waste is increasingly seen as a valuable resource. As human beings continuously realized that resources are finite, efficient use of resources and resources recovery from wastes are vital for global environmental sustainability (Zaman and Lehmann, 2011).

Developed countries generally rely on land filling to overcome the problem of waste accumulation (Girling, 2005; Pacione, 2005). The landfill seems to have a special attraction for municipal waste managers because it offers a cheap and convenient option for waste disposal compared with other strategies such as reuse, recycling and energy recovery (Charzan, 2002). In fact, with the exception of few countries like Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark who recycle substantial proportions of their waste, most countries in Europe and North America still dump the bulk of their municipal solid waste in landfills (OECD, 2002; Girling, 2005). For instance, In May, 2008, the inadequacy of waste disposal land created mayhem in the Italian city of Naples when the streets became laden with waste, blocking traffic and causing nuisance and hazards (Anthony, 2009). The European Commission's thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste (European Union, 2005) called for life-cycle thinking in waste policies and moving towards a recycling society. This has in turn highlighted the opportunities for improved coherence between policies on waste and those on climate change and resource efficiency

(European Environment Agency (EEA), 2011). 

Scavenging is now regarded as a means to reduce the amount of solid waste to be disposed and help to save the natural resources that leads to sustainable development (Muktar, 2011). It creates jobs and extra income for people especially the poor. Scavenging makes people to sort out materials from wastes in exchange for money and supplies raw materials for recycling enterprises. Nigerian Environmental Study Action Team (NEST) (1991) revealed that; the present harsh economic condition in the country has led to the emergence of interest in waste recycling. It is now quite common to see scavengers at work on most waste disposal sites salvaging all items they believe to be salvageable, usable as they are or in demand as industrial raw materials. Examples include; unbroken bottles, rusty pots and pans, broken metal chair legs, leaking plastic containers, old car tyres and plastic shoes, clothes, buttons, and zip fasteners, as well as milk tins, among others. Despite the obvious health hazards which scavenging poses to both the scavengers and their customers, it must be admitted that it is helping the society to cope with solid waste disposal problem. 

Recycling is also now accepted as a suitable option on the waste management hierarchy namely; source reduiction, reuse/recycling, composting, incineration and land filling (Agarwal, Singhmar, Kulshrestha, and Mittal, 2005; Bolaane 2006) (see Figure 1.0). 

            Figure: 1.1: Hierarchy of Integrated Solid Waste Management.

Source: Richard, Wolfville and Nova (2002).

This is because it does not only provide an avenue for the identification, recovery and exploitation of waste as a resource (Sicular, 1992; The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, 2007) but also for its potential contribution towards environmental management and livelihoods (Masocha, 2006; Langenhoven and Dyssel, 2007). Waste recycling in developing countries is being driven by the informal sector, often with minimal, if any, input from institutions of the state (Castells and Portes, 1989; Ahmed and Ali, 2004; Wilson, Velis and Cheeseman, 2006). At the same time, the informal sector is becoming increasingly integrated into the social, cultural and economic systems of most developing countries. Consequently, solid waste management (SWM) and recycling by the informal sector, unarguably of contemporary phenomena, which have contributed to socioeconomic development in low-and middle- income countries (Berthier, 2003; Wilson et. al., 2006; Gonzenbach and Coad, 2007; Medina, 2007; Gutberlet, 2008).

An important component of ISWM is to encourage producers to produce environmentally friendly goods and to produce less waste in the production cycle. It also mandates producers to take more responsibility for the waste they produce (Ukoje, 2011). In general, source reduction (most preferred) is the most difficult stage to achieve in ISWM hierarchy, but the stage together with recycling/reuse is the conceptualized application to resource and environmental management.

The next favorable option is waste recycling and reuse; waste recycling is a process that involves collecting, reprocessing, and/or recovering certain waste materials (e.g. glass, metal, plastics, paper etc.) to make new materials or products.  Waste reuse and recycling are often undertaken as a survival strategy by scavengers and recycling businesses (Cointreau and De kadt, 1991) thereby reducing the total amount of solid waste headed for the landfill. Waste reuse plays a valuable resource-conserving role: by recycling materials, further exploitation of scarce natural resources is minimized, thus containing the spreading ecological footprints of the city.

In addition, composting as an option is a controlled natural process of decomposition of organic waste materials. It reduces the cost of waste disposal, minimize nuisance potential and produce a clean and readily marketable finished product. Composting helps in increasing the recovery rate of recyclable materials. Furthermore, reuse, recycling and composting are land- saving and pollution- reducing strategies.

Next is incineration, which is another method of disposal and it involves passing the waste through a chamber at high temperature with an adequate supply of oxygen to oxidize all organic material. Its advantage is that it requires less land than landfills. Incineration disposes

99.999% of organic waste if properly carried out at 1200°C temperature and ambient oxygen. Combustion in an incinerator reduces volume by 90% and weight by 75% and ash uses about a third as much landfill space as solid waste itself does (Hill, 2004).

Energy recovered from the process can be utilized for electricity generation. Although incineration appears to be an extremely attractive option, the high financial start-up and operational capital required to implement incineration facilities is a major barrier to successful adoption in developing countries (United Nations Environmental Programme, 1996). A large portion of that cost goes to the environmental hazard mitigation components, including emissions (Rand, Haukohl and Marxen, 2000). 


In the pursuit of sustainable waste management, the prevention of waste generation is the first priority, followed by waste recovery and safe disposal of waste on the hierarchy of principles for waste management (Figure 1.1). These principles need to be put in practice through joint waste prevention and management measures if growing environmental degradation is to be avoided. For example, the use of valuable land for waste disposal, the release of harmful substances from landfills and waste transports into air, soil and water, and the use of resources that are transformed into disposed waste instead of being reused or recycled will all have negative impacts on the environment, and will have a long-lasting direct and indirect influences on the quality of life (European Urban Waste Management Cluster (EUWMC), 2005).

It is known that there have been some local methods by which solid wastes were been reused or recycled. The knowledge of waste reuse and recycling might not be totally new in the Nigerian context. Rather, it is the current sophistication involved that is rather new. Waste facilities in developing countries are minimal, but substantial quantities are diverted for recycling (Tajuddeen, 2003). So there was this reuse culture that has been planted in to Nigerians subconsciously. Every item used were structured for reuse. Even today, the sachets of ―pure water‖ are used by horticulturists for flower nursery and paper wrappers are reused. The reuse tradition is what makes old newspapers useful for wrapping roasted groundnut ( Arachis hypogea Linn) and pop corn (guguru) or akara, the popular fried beans cake. Apart from the fact that the reuse culture saves lots of money, it is highly conservative resulting in waste management (Ajibade, 2005).

In spite of the enormous benefits associated with sustainable waste management strategies such as re-use and recycling, only a handful of countries are able to put them into practice. For instance, most of the economically developed countries are still unable to recycle much of their waste (Anthony, 2009). Besides, growing land scarcity and stricter environmental standards now make it difficult for many rich cities to find adequate and suitable disposal sites for the large volumes of waste being generated by their urban populations (Pacione, 2005; Charzan, 2002). 

Hardoy, et. al., (2001) researched on environmental problems in an urbanizing world and estimates that between one third and one half of all solid waste generated in Third World cities remains uncollected and the collection rate could be as low as 10 – 20 percent in some cases. Depicting a similar picture of the problem, Cointreau (2001), has estimated that in some cases, up to 60 percent of solid waste generated within urban centres in poor countries remains uncollected and such refuse accumulates on waste lands and streets, sometimes to the point of blocking roads. Moreover, uncontrolled solid waste disposal can also cause environmental problems like traffic congestion on the streets and roads, municipal floods when dumped on waterways, etc. (Lawal, 2011).


The research questions posed are as follows: 

i.                    What are the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of waste management entrepreneurs (WMEs) in the study area?

ii.                  What are the sources and destinations of recyclable Municipal Solid Waste, in Zaria metropolis?

iii.                What is the quantity of waste materials (metal scraps, plastics and cans) recovered, reused and transported for recycling?

iv.                What type of uses are the recyclable materials put into? 

v.                  What are the socioeconomic benefits of waste management to waste management entrepreneurs (WMEs) in the study area?


The aim of the study is to evaluate the potential for municipal solid waste reuse/recycling as waste management strategies in Zaria metropolis to create wealth and promote a sustainable environment.  The specific objectives are to:

  i. To examine the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of waste management entrepreneurs (WMEs) in the study area

 ii. To identify the sources and destinations of recyclable Municipal Solid Waste, in Zaria metropolis;

 iii. To analyse the quantity of waste materials (metal scraps, plastics and cans) recovered, reused, transported for recycling.

iv. To  identify the type of uses recyclable materials are put into in the study area.

  v. To examine the socioeconomic benefits of waste management to waste management entrepreneurs (WMEs) in the study area.


There are several reasons for continuous research on waste problem at local, national and global levels. Firstly, the earth‘s natural resources are fast dwindling, hence the need to conserve the resources. Reuse and recycle are some of the conservation means for sustainable natural resource management, including municipal solid waste. This is the environmental justification for this study. Also, this study will provide evidence on the volume of wealth/job created from managing municipal solid waste (MSW) that can be used for future development planning in the area of employment generation. Evidence from other countries such as Germany, Australia and the US demonstrate how significant job creation at the local level has been achieved through high recycling rates, thus supporting new business formation (Mayor of London, 2003).

In terms of contribution to knowledge on solid waste and urban environmental management, findings of the study will form a base knowledge for researchers interested in that area. It is hoped that this work will contribute to finding a sustainable way of handling scrap metal, can and plastic waste menace in Zaria with adaptive implications for the whole country and beyond.      


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the potential for solid waste re-use and recycling as a management strategy to create wealth and promote a sustainable waste management. The spatial scope of this work are localities in Zaria which include; Samaru, Palladan, Basawa, Gyllesu, Muchia, Chikaji, Wusasa, Dogarawa, Sabon-Gari, Tudun Wada, Gaskiya and Zaria city. The areas were chosen based on the prominence of collection points. By indication, Zaria as used in this study comprises Zaria and Sabon-Gari Local Government Areas (LGAs), with four (4) districts namely; Zaria city district, Tudun Wada district, Sabon-Gari district and Samaru district.  

This study will therefore examine recovery, reuse and recycling of MSW. The focus will be limited to scrap metal, plastic bottles and cans; since they are the items that are majorly recovered by the entrepreneurs. The temporal scope for the field work was limited to one month (i.e. from second week of November to first week of December 2012).

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