Policy Interventions for Sustainable Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries
Waste collection in developing countries is largely dependant on the informal sector where the waste pickers collect and sort the wastes manually for extremely low wages in unsafe and unhygienic conditions that put them at health risk. It is important to integrate informal workers into the waste management systems through policy intervention. Developing countries which have no or less stringent regulations are the pollution havens for waste disposal for the developed world. The social costs of improper waste management are the negative externalities on public health and the environment. According to the World Bank report on sanitation, improper waste disposal leads to economic losses in the form of death, increased costs on health treatment, loss of productivity time and ecosystem losses. Most of the Asian countries have poor waste management practices due to lack of policy intervention, collection inefficiency, limited financial resources and lack of technology. The major issue in solid waste management (SWM) is the failure to recognise it as an important economic problem. The economist A.C. Pigou’s work became the basis for using economic tools such as taxes and subsidies to avoid the problems associated with externalities. In many countries, the costs of waste disposal are zero. When waste disposal is not priced, it creates negative externalities like the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome. In order to reduce externalities, economists have designed several tax and subsidy schemes. History of economic policy in theory and practice show that different combinations of economic and regulatory instruments could lead to a socially optimum quantity of garbage and recycling. The following paper is an attempt to critically evaluate certain policy instruments that lead to cost-effective SWM and other economic benefits. Further, this paper attempts to offer policy suggestions particularly for developing countries that have been languishing poor waste management practices for years.
KeywordsInformal sector Pollution havens Social costs Negative externalities Solid waste management Taxes Subsidies Recycling Policy instruments
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