Evaluating Citizen Attitudes and Participation in Solid Waste Management in Tehran, Iran

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Recently, increasing attention has been paid to the environmental impact of solid waste in Iran. Consequently, solid waste management has become a remarkably important issue. Solid waste comprises a wide range of materials and comes from a variety of sources. Having a population of about 10 million (about 1/7 of Iran’s total population), Tehran is among the most populated capitals in the world. With 22 different districts, this city generates approximately 7,000 metric tons of municipal waste per day that culminates in a total of 2.5 million tons annually. If no reduction strategy on the waste stream is implemented, this huge amount of waste will be buried in Kahrizak (the exclusive landfill site of Tehran). Land and underground water resource degradation in the vicinity of the landfill siteas well as disease outbreaks in the area surrounding the sitemay be considered alarming warnings for further catastrophic consequences of uncontrolled waste dumping. In this study, the composition of Tehran’s solid wastes is analyzed. In order to physically analyze waste generated, waste sampling was carried out by trained workers of the Tehran organization of waste recycling and compost in 2004 for 10 successive days in the middle of each of four seasons. As a result of the study, some practical recommendations are made to reduce the waste stream load directed toward the land.

Furthermore, this study evaluated people’s concern about the fate of the waste they generate. According to the data collected in a survey, citizens’ participation is not remarkably high, but even the modest cooperation recorded may cause a great benefit if extrapolated to the whole city. By virtue of sharp decreases in the cost of total waste collection and transport, as well as the benefits of land and underground water resource preservation, separation of wastes at their source by individual households makes economic sense.

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