Recently I have been working on my situated research project on solid waste management in Chile. Gathering data from World bank and the United Nations Development Program, I chose to inspect municipal solid waste generation (MSW) and the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI takes into account life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling,and GNI per capita (in 2011 $PPP). The United Nations Development Program classifies these things as crucial to a countries development. Over the course of my research project I sought to look into the larger question of, “How should nation-wide issues of solid waste in developing countries be dealt with through the use of solid waste management systems?” Because of these two data sources, I was able graph and map HDI and MSW to compare the two. Using ArcGIS and google sheets I found that the further developed a country is the more MSW they also generate. There are outliers to this, however there is a trend that is prevalent in the chart. The higher a country ranks in HDI, the lower they are likely to rank in MSW generation. Originally I dismissed the Kuznets Curve theory that developing nations will produce more environmental waste while countries that are most developed have found solutions to this. At second thought this may not be correct. A country that has a high HDI score may only have a low ranking in the MSW generation but they may also be using better techniques to deal with the waste so that all of it may not go to landfill. Look to Chile for example as 83rd in MSW generation yet 90% of their landfills can be shrunk by using waste to energy (WTE) techniques. With a landfill system in Santiago this may allow for continued growth while still having less solid waste to manage. One of the largest concerns of the city may be the shortage of space in landfills. Because of solutions similar to WTE a country may be allowed a buffer zone to develop. During this time single use plastics and poor recycling practices may have time to adapt and grow into more healthy habits. Prior to a country's HDI growth they may not have needed to deal with such commodities. One large issue that may be a factor in these types of nations is food waste. Assuming that life expectancy and education rise, then food production will most likely also rise raising GNI as well. Because of this more food can be produced and there may be more food waste. This can be solved through composting as well as better fresher food networks so that the food doesn’t perish. This, similar to WTE can be large in helping reduce a nation’s environmental footprint even though solid waste may continue to grow. It is important however that we reduce things like single us plastics that enlarge our environmental footprint as well. Just because we may have different ways to deal with our solid waste more effectively does not mean that is the best thing. We must also be proactive in reducing waste generation as well. “AnnexJ.Pdf.” Accessed December 5, 2018. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTURBANDEVELOPMENT/Resources/336387-1334852610766/AnnexJ.pdf.
“Human Development Reports | United Nations Development Programme.” Accessed December 5, 2018. http://hdr.undp.org/en.
“Reports from University of Chile Highlight Recent Findings in Waste Management [Uncertainty in the Measurement of Toxic Metals Mobility in Mining/Mineral Wastes by Standardized BCR [R] SEP].” Ecology, Environment & Conservation, October 26, 2018. Academic OneFile.