Municipal solid waste management in a rapidly urbanising area in Thailand: Barriers and recommendations

Author: Nachalida Yukalang

Yukalang, Nachalida, 2019 Municipal solid waste management in a rapidly urbanising area in Thailand: Barriers and recommendations, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Maintaining adequate municipal solid waste management (MSWM) is a challenge around the world, particularly in developing countries. The pressures of economic development in conjunction with rapid urbanisation have created a waste management emergency, with unofficial dumping grounds scattered around many areas. The Tha Khon Yang Subdistrict Municipality (TKYSM) in Maha Sarakham Province, Thailand, is at a crisis point for MSWM. There is a desperate need to respond to MSWM issues brought about by the rapid growth in the population, including a large transient student population, and responding commercial activity. The MSWM system adopted by the TKYSM is not effective as evidenced by the huge amount of accumulating waste.

This study assessed the current MSWM system in the municipality and identified the barriers to effective MSWM. The study also sought to develop recommendations to address these barriers to MSWM. The research question was ‘What components are necessary for the successful implementation of Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) in a rapidly urbanising area in northeastern Thailand?’. The researcher selected the ISWM framework for evaluation because this framework has been established as a useful tool for understanding sustainable waste management.

The issue is very complex and a variety of perspectives from stakeholders around waste management were sought to find solutions. It is well established that successful MSWM requires an understanding of the system in each area, including stakeholders’ ideas and opinions. Each area is different, and approaches need to be tailored to the specific problems of the area. This study applied the triangulation method of research, which included interviews, focus groups and observations to identify the needs of local residents, gauge the capacity of the TKYSM to provide MSWM services and to examine input from external specialists to find opportunities for improvement in the region.

The outcomes of this study suggest that due to fiscal and capacity challenges, plans should focus on a range of issues, such as managing waste at the source (reducing waste and waste separation) instead of prioritising waste collection and transporting waste to landfill. Tha Khon Yang is similar in this regard to other areas – many municipalities experience financial pressures and often spend more than half of their waste management budget on processes of waste collection and disposal.

The recommendations for improving MSWM include developing an operational MSWM system that is appropriate for waste service users, developing both short and long implementation plans, establishing and educating a waste management team, developing a more rigorous system for monitoring and paying waste system fees and raising the awareness of residents to encourage people to manage waste properly at the sources.

Key outcomes of the study include identification of the barriers to MSWM in Tha Khon Yang, development of recommendations to address these barriers, a review of the application of the ISWM framework and recommendations for further research.

Keywords: municipal solid waste management, integrated solid waste management, barriers, opinions, solutions, government, urbanization, waste policy, developing countries, Thailand, Mahasarakham

Subject: Environmental Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Kirstin Ross