Dealing with waste management problems


All over the world are still landfills for disposing waste, having dramatic effects on the planet. A smart way of dealing with it is an important global task to save the environment. Reusing waste to create new products or energy is a helpful way to have a sustainable use of resources. A group of students from the partner cities of Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Dar es salaam investigated the situation of waste management in their respective cities and searched for smart solutions.
By Jennifer Gräler, Mwanaisha Maulid, Varvara Selizarova, Sven Thomsen


Landfill in Dar es Salaam (Photo: Mwanaisha Maulid)

Landfills in Tanzania

Dar es Salaam is the main city in Tanzania which in terms of the waste management sector is not that well organized. Talking of landfills for example: they are all over the city despite the ongoing programs and campaigns of keeping the environment clean. There are several private and government sectors which are involved in collecting waste. They put equipments like dustbins on the streets. However,  in the end they are burning the waste and polluting the air. Innovation is needed in Dar es Salaam and Tanzania. In this regard some processes have been done like introducing and building a dump in Dar es Salaam which will recycle and reduce the amount of waste all over the city.

Waste deposit in Russia

The Red Bor is the biggest dump of industrial waste situated near Saint Petersburg. “Chemistry Chernobyl”, how it is called by the citizens, has been collecting nearly two million tons of chemistry for 45 years. Now the landfill is overfilled and is a big threat for the region, because all dioxides and other substances potentially can flow into the water supply system. But fabrics still carry all their toxic waste here. Red bor is not the only landfill in the area. There are three legal big dumps more that collect all waste from households and streets. All are supported by the government. “Owners of dumps are paid for taking waste by the government”, says Dmitriy Artamonov, leader of Greenpeace's toxic programme in Russia. If you are taking the ecological way of reducing waste, for example, you are a recycling company, and you will get no money for taking waste”. The Russian Greenpeace specialist says that Saint Petersburg citizens are like people that were living in Europe 30 to 40 years ago when green management had just appeared: "They are ready for recycling, but our government is completely different”.


Model of the Energy Hill Georgswerder, Hamburg (Photo: Jennifer Gräler)

Energy Hill Georgswerder

The best known landfill in Hamburg is Georgswerder. It was a created after the second world war, like many other landfills in Germany. The disposal site was closed in 1979. A few years after closing, the senate realized how dangerous Georgswerder is. The extremely toxic dioxide was found oozing into the groundwater. Today Georgswerder is still the most toxic area in Europe, but because of a unique shielding system using a shift of plastic and a complex system of drainage, it is possible that people can live near Georgswerder, tourists can have a great look at the skyline of Hamburg and many animals like foxes and butterflies exist in the area.


Smoking chimneys of the waste incineration plant in Hamburg (Photo: Jennifer Gräler)

Smart ways of waste management

One way to avoid having landfills is using waste incineration plants, where the high majority of the waste can be reused – mainly for creating electricity and steam for heating. In the biggest waste incineration plant in Hamburg, the Müllverwertungsanlage Borsigstraße, 320.000 tons are burned per year. Talking about the different amounts of emissions the waste incineration plant is allowed to produce, Arne Popp of the Stadtreinigung Hamburg said: “The legal limit for diesel cars is about 200 times higher than the legal limit we have here for the incineration plant. So this is a very high standard we have here”. Right now the toxic leftovers of the burning process are being used  in a safely prepared way as backfilling for old coal mines and salt mines. Scientists hope that in 100 or maybe 200 years from now, when there are new technologies, it will even be possible to get the good, raw materials out of the toxic waste. “Waste incinerations had a really bad reputation in the 80s, still in the 90s, because they were responsible for the bad air. They didn’t have any cleaning systems inside but now it’s much better”.

Process of manually grabbing the waste inside the plant for burning (Photo: Jennifer Gräler)

This reportage is part of a student exchange program of HAW Hamburg, University of Dar es Salaam, and University of St. Petersburg.
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