Peter Lechner
Universität für Bodenkultur, Institut für Abfallwirtschaft, Department für Wasser, Atmosphäre und Umwelt
ORF ON Science :  Peter Lechner : 
Bewußtseinsbildung für abfallwirtschaftliche Probleme in Entwicklungsländern  
  Eine regelmäßige und reibungslose Entsorgung unseres Mülls ist für uns selbstverständlich ebenso wie für viele Menschen in der dritten Welt ein Leben mit und auf dem Müll nicht ungewöhnlich ist. Diese andere Seite der Abfallwirtschaft wird im Rahmen einer Lehrveranstaltung an der Abteilung Abfallwirtschaft der BOKU Wien näher betrachtet. Ein Bericht von Budiono NGUYEN und Stefan RÖDER .  
Solid Waste Management in Economically Developing Countries
In autumn 2000 we had the chance to take part in an English speaking lecture held by Ph.D. Luis Diaz, professor at the Berkley University, CA. He also runs a company which is concerned with solid waste management projects all over the world and so he placed the emphasis on practical aspects not on theory. For he is a man of great international experience and a very open minded person, he tried to train us to find simple answers for complicated problems.
Taking a Look at Dumpsites all over the World
The lecture started with the presentation of slides from almost all continents (from the Dominican Republic to Mongolia) just to get an impression how people live and deal with their waste under different environmental and social conditions and to show us, that for many people living on dumpsites seems to be nothing extraordinary.
In the following sessions we learned about the differences in technical, hygienical and safety standards between industrialized and developing countries. He also stressed on the reasons for that differences, especially the fact, that those countries also have many other problems apart from waste management, for example supplying people with fresh water, food and employment. From his explanations we learned that it is often more important to change the people's (especially the politicians') attitude by information campaigns than to implement sophisticated technologies. The main processes of waste management he told us about were collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of waste.


Dealing with Real Life Problems in International Working Groups
With this knowledge we were able to start with our homework, which we had to complete within two weeks. The description for our work was a sketch of the greater metropolitan area of Buenos Aires and some data about waste generation in this area. Our task was to develop a new concept for the waste management of this megacity with 11,2 million inhabitants. Mr. Diaz told us, that he also had to deal with this problem and so he was very interested in our solutions and proposed an award for the winning group. We formed four teams consisting of students from many different countries (e.g. Venezuela, Thailand, Ethiopia) and started our work with nothing but the poor data we had got. To get along with that task we had to focus on the general perspectives and leave minor details aside.
Waste composition in Argentina

Waste composition in Austria

After two weeks of hard work the teams were able to present their results to Mr. Diaz, who was very satisfied and needed a long time to choose the winning group. Each member of the group got a copy of the book written by him. The four new concepts included the rearrangement of collection and transportation systems, the adaptation of existing treatment facilities, the building of a new landfill, educational campaigns (to make people participate in the new system) and of course a time plan and a cost estimation.
We think that this lecture not only improved our knowledge about waste management and foreign countries, our English and presentation skills, but also gave us the possibility to broaden our horizon and find a new way of solving complicated problems efficiently.
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