Municipal Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries

Coursera Municipal Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
4-6 hours a week
5 weeks
Paid Certificate Available
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Have you come across large piles of garbage in neighbourhoods and streets and smelly waste disposal sites polluting the environment of low- and middle-income countries? Do you want to know what kind of sustainable solutions are appropriate to better manage waste and enhance recycling and recovery? If yes, this course is for you!

This course provides you with an overview of the municipal solid waste management situation in low- and middle-income countries. It covers key elements of the waste management system, such as its technical, environmental, social, financial and institutional aspects. Besides understanding the challenges, you will be introduced to appropriate and already applied solutions through selected case studies.

Week 1: Introduction to Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries
The course begins with an overview of the current waste situation in developing countries. We will introduce the Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) framework that provides a general overview of SWM systems and will guide us though this course. The modules of this first week deal with the physical components of a SWM system. At the end of this week we expected you to understand the different steps in the municipal solid waste management chain, the key requirements for an appropriate management as well as the main challenges in developing countries. Real study case examples will be introduced to support the understanding.

Week 2: Introduction to Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries
In the second week, the course will focus on the governance aspects also referred as the “soft” aspects of a municipal solid waste management (MSWM) system. The different stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities will be explained as well as legislative issues and financial mechanisms.

Week 3: Organic waste treatment technologies
The third week will focus on the treatment of organic waste. In this week you will learn the basics of two very common organic waste treatment technologies: composting and anaerobic digestion. Study case examples will be presented as well as some practical exercises. This will help consolidate your knowledge to better understand the underlying treatment principles and processes, the key issues in operation and maintenance of such treatment facilities and the benefits of the value products from the treatment.

Week 4: Organic waste treatment technologies
Week four will continue with an introduction to other organic waste treatment technologies. Although currently less common in practice, the treatment by vermicomposting, Black Solider Fly larvae or options of thermochemical conversion are explained and their potential for waste management in developing countries are discussed. The week then ends with two modules on special waste types, hazardous and health care waste as well as electronic waste, explaining the key challenges and opportunities for improvement in a low and middle income setting.

Week 5: Assessment and planning methods for Solid Waste Management
During the last week, the modules will focus more on strategic aspects of MSWM. Methods on how to integrate organic waste management into the municipal SWM system will be explained. Furthermore a standardized method to evaluate and compare systems with regard to their performance will be presented as well as the relevance of waste management and its impacts on climate change. Finally, the course will conclude with some reflections on the future of waste management introducing the concept of circular economy.

Taught by
Christian Zurbrügg and Imanol Zabaleta
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