The effect of novel Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic is evident in the waste management sector in Ghana. The pandemic has increased the volume of domestic and health waste through: added demand for household consumables and non-consumables, generation of liquid waste from handwashing practices, and increased disposal of protective equipment. In addition, the pandemic has exposed waste service providers to health risks.
The increased generation of waste require a compactor truck, which collects waste from 250-300 houses per trip to double its fleet or undergo more than one round trip to cover the same concession areas. Clients however do not pay for the additional waste generated. The fee fixing mechanism guiding the establishment of service fees has not been adjusted to reflect the increased volumes. Also, most informal areas lack the economic ability to pay for these additional waste generated. As a result, waste service providers receive less payment for service rendered, encounter an increased back-log of uncollected waste, and incur additional charges due to increased volume of waste (while providing the same service). These challenges threatens their revenue.
Additional volumes of waste requires additional labour force but, with the increasing threat in low revenue collection, waste service providers are down-sizing. The few available staff are forced to cope with the increased work load.
Furthermore, the current mode of waste collection can serve as a route for the transmission of virus and other infectious diseases. Waste management service providers come in contact with potentially infected persons or waste materials. Most of them lack the basic personal protective equipment which makes them suceptible to the virus. At final disposal sites, a material recovery facility receiving approximately 100 tons of waste per day could have up to 30 tons of contaminants from: plastics, papers, textile, electronic waste, and metals
Lastly, the recent closure of major landfills exerts additional pressure on waste service providers who have to commute longer distance. These conditions implies an increase backlog of waste which has high human-health and environmental consequence amidst the on-set of the raining season.
Waste management service providers therefore need to be supported with personal protective equipment (PPE’s), financial stimulus packages and incentive tax policies (signing off taker agreements with waste transfer and resource recovery facilities).