Mexico city is still gripped, in perhaps the worlds biggest waste crisis. In 2012, its largest rubbish dump was closed, thrusting the city beyond breaking point and highlighted the lack of a comprehensive, urban waste policy. The Bordo Poniente landfill site has been in use since 1985. Covering an area of 600 hectares the site was receiving 12,600 tonnes of waste a day, 7,000 of them from municipalities outside of Mexico City – 70 million tonnes of waste are even buried underground at the dump.
The problems with poor waste management in the city, have been severe and emphasised the need for proper waste management. Drinking water has previously been inaccessible through the, poisoning of aquifers underneath rubbish sites. Excessive amounts of methane come from the landfill sites, furthering global warming. The problem has extended so far as, professionals don diving suits simply to unclog the waste from the cities sewers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI2UO9YQXks. The city has run out of space to put its waste.
Waste management is essential, for any functioning city, but it relies on proper infrastructure. Mexico’s ministry of the environment and natural resources has estimated that; of 40 million tonnes of waste each year, only 15 percent is recycled.
“We are tossing valuable materials into the trash, and there is the whole problem of the absence of re-use and recycling. The goal is to recycle at least 60 percent of our waste. We must establish sanitary landfills that meet health and safety regulations. You can’t just improvise a landfill site,” said Restrepo.
“We are going to have a problem with garbage for a long time. If we take action now, it need not get any worse, but we need a long-term strategy,” he said.
The Ecology and Development Centre identified at least 30 failed garbage dump projects since the 1980s. The failures were due to a mix of corruption and lack of political will.
Here its is evident that resident of Mexico city, are entrenched in consumerism. Disposing of this much organic waste is part of the cities culture; it seems that if people have no use, or even a dislike for something, it just ends up in landfill.
But getting to the point Mexico city has reached should be avoided entirely. Switzerland’s recycles more than 50% of its municipal
solid waste with 2.8 million tons were recycled from households. This comes from the philosophy in peoples waste management; the Swiss people are more efficient and mindful of their waste. RESAG is a Swiss company that manages to recycle 85% of what it collects. This attitude to waste is reflected in the manager of RESAG: “We’re a fast-moving consumer society. We’re quick to buy a new mobile phone or furniture – and the lifespan of these is increasingly shorter – so there’s automatically more waste,” However, although impressive, Household waste affects only 10% of total waste.
Landfills have actually been banned since 2000, and all non recycled combustible waste is incinerated. Even now, 28 of its incineration facilities have been removed. Government pressure has forced businesses into being sustainable, and has created this efficiency in waste management.
While its recycling endeavours are impressive, Switzerland is still producing more than 700 kilograms of rubbish per capita, one of the highest rates in the world. Recycling is efficient for solving tangible waste problems on a small scale, but its effectiveness is greatly diminished in larger countries. It requires individuals to change their habits, it cannot be achieved from forcing government legislature. But we should look to Switzerland as a role model, in global waste management.
Godey. M, 9 January. 2012, ‘The waste mountain engulfing Mexico city’. Available on: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jan/09/waste-mountain-mexico-city
Misicka. S, 30 November. 2015, ‘How the Swiss deal with waste’. Available on: http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/it-s-rubbish-_how-the-swiss-deal-with-waste/41783866