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Urban Waste Management and Potential Agricultural Use in South American Developing Countries: A Case Study of Chimborazo Region (Ecuador)

Jara-Samaniego, Janneth, Moral, M. Raúl, Perez-Murcia, Dolores, Paredes, Concepción, Gálvez-Sola, Luis, Gavilanes-Terán, Irene, Bustamante, M. Ángeles
Communications in soil science and plant analysis 2015 v.46 no.sup1 pp. 157-169
biobased products, case studies, composting, composts, cost effectiveness, developing countries, environmental hazards, gardening, heavy metals, landfills, markets, models, municipal solid waste, nutrients, recycling, risk, sludge, urban areas, wastewater treatment, Ecuador
In South America, a high percentage of urban waste streams are not well managed, implying associated health and environmental risks. In Ecuador, around 2.7 million tons of municipal solid wastes (MSW) are generated annually, with 80 percent located in urban areas. Correct management and hygienic and ecological issues from these increased quantities of waste is the responsibility of municipalities that must provide sewerage, wastewater treatment, and solid waste management, according to the Constitution of the Republic (Art 264). With only seven licensed landfill areas out of thirty-one in total (66 percent mechanized and 34 percent manually sorted), a sustainable waste management model must be developed to reduce environmental hazards and also to obtain new bioproducts such as compost or fertilizers. Agricultural utilization of MSW compost is the most cost-effective management option compared to traditional means such as landfilling or incineration, and this option also enables the recycling of potential plant nutrients. In this work, the problem we addressed was to obtain analytical information about representative MSW samples from different origins and locations within the Chimborazo region in order to establish its potential for composting. In the studied MSW samples (which included sludge from aerobic wastewater treatment plants), high nutrient contents and low concentrations of heavy metals were observed, showing great potential to develop high-quality compost. In addition, improvement of separate collections of food market and/or municipal gardening wastes can provide specific clean waste streams of degradable materials to be managed separately from not separately collected MSW.