A Systematic Comparison of Municipal Solid Waste Management Systems: Case Studies of Dalian City, China and the Region of Waterloo, Canada
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Since the 1990s, Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) has shifted to a more comprehensive approach with an emphasis on managing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) through the whole process from generation to disposal. Meanwhile, developing countries started to alter their ways of managing wastes and engage in more efforts on waste diversion. Due to their shortage of both resources and expertise, developing countries usually refer to and learn from developed countries’ experiences in MSWM to improve their own practices. How and to what extent these experiences are helpful for developing countries remains inconclusive because significant differences are present among MSWM systems in different countries. These differences do not simply reflect the variations in regulations and resource allocation; more importantly, they reflect the variations in the underlying connections between MSWM and other social, economic, demographic, and technological conditions. Therefore, a systematic examination is needed to enhance the understanding of these differences, the reasons for these differences, and the priorities that need to be stressed in order to improve waste diversion in a particular case. A systematic model, as the framework for the comparison in this thesis, is proposed to illustrate MSMW systems. Based on the model, this thesis compares and contrasts two cases, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (RMOW) in Canada and Dalian City in China, at multiple levels: overall stage, system components, system structures, and interactions. The results show that Dalian, compared with the RMOW, has less sufficient capacities for waste planning and implementation. Challenges in MSWM are associated with higher density of residences, difficulties in managing informal profit-driven recycling activities, insufficient and unreliable treatment capacity, insufficient multi-agent dialogues and cooperation both within the government and between the public and private sectors, and less specific, program-based public education. The majority of participants in the RMOW are more self-motivated as opposed to the majority in Dalian who are motivated more by compensations. Based on the comparison, implications and suggestions in several aspects concerning waste planning are discussed. From the systematic perspective, to improve waste diversion in Dalian requires collaborative efforts of multiple agents. The key aspect is to strengthen the relatively incompetent component in the system to improve the capacities for waste service and treatment, which are contingent on the development of waste industries. In Dalian, waste diversion should begin with limited types of wastes and gradually expand the scope, and new programs should be designed based on the existing system with cooperation of the informal sector. Meanwhile, cooperation among governmental divisions and between public and private sectors need to be promoted by encouraging multi-agent dialogues and improving information transparency. Program promotion also needs to be more specific in instructions and to address both pro- environmental attitudes and service quality and convenience. Finally, scavenging at landfill sites should be discouraged in order to protect scavengers from the detrimental working environment.