With each passing day, the world is entangling in enormous issues related to the environment. These issues further diversify at the community level, causing danger to the earth’s biodiversity. The causing contributor to the earth’s pollution is the waste and its successive generation. The developed nations have, however, devised solutions for the eradication of waste.

By the year 2050, waste generation is expected to increase by 3.40 billion tons. There is no stopping to it unless there are enough awareness and managerial services to deal with this humongous issue of handling waste. r. A cornerstone of sustainable development is the establishment of affordable, effective and truly sustainable waste management practices.

It must be further emphasized that multiple public health, safety and environmental benefits accrue from effective waste management practices which concurrently reduce GHG emissions and improve the quality of life, promote public health, prevent water and soil contamination, conserve natural resources and provide renewable energy benefits.

As the generation of waste is inevitable, certain measures are taken to deal with it. The journey of waste generation to waste utilization involves the process of recycling. Waste management involves the formal waste sector as well as the informal waste sector.

These two sectors manage the recycling of waste into useful products. The informal waste sector comprises of the low waged laborers with no economic security. A great number of waste pickers collect garbage each day and sell them to the junk shops, where the waste is classified and transferred to the wholesalers.

Pakistan’s informal waste sector can be a potential source for profit-generating only if the public and private sectors devise policies and programs for enhancing the recycling business. However, in developing countries, both sectors are not widely recognized. The formal waste sector does generate considerable revenue, but this sector’s installation and managerial expenses do not let many investors pursue it. On the other hand, the informal waste sector has great potential to generate revenue.

Still, the local government and authorities do not recognize it as a viable option as a waste recycling sector. The amount of waste generated in Pakistan is about 20 million tons, which increases at the rate of two percent each year. The waste is further segregated into different categories handled by the recyclers and vast industries. One of the major categories of this waste is “Electronic Waste,” which mostly ends up in the informal sector waste handling chain. Other types of waste are mostly household waste, majorly comprising plastic waste that can be recycled and produces recyclables.

To understand the economic potential of the Informal waste sector, it is important to understand the hierarchy by which it operates. The developed countries use the recycling business as a potential contributor to their economy.

The US recycled more than 60% of their waste composed of more than one plastic-type and earned 37 billion US dollars by it in the year 2000 and which provided employment opportunity to more than 1.1 US citizens. The economic potential of the recycling business done in either of the waste sectors can be a great benefit for a country’s economy.

Being a developing country, Pakistan is under a great economic strain. Certain policies and initiatives are being taken at a governmental level, which can vouch for profits. Still, less heed is paid to these sectors when it comes to waste management and recycling. Pakistan can be greatly benefited from the formal and informal waste recycling business. The plastic waste is usually bought at a rate between 30 to 35pkr per kg, depending upon the quality of the plastic waste.

The informal waste sector is mostly recognized for producing recyclables from plastic waste. It is further utilized in the making of plastic granules; these are used to produce recyclables. The plastics used mostly for this procedure are Thermoplastics. These kinds of plastics are easily recyclable; thus, it could generate valuable recyclables when produced in a great amount. However, the products made out of virgin plastics are preferred by organized marketers.

he economic assessment of any project is done by the prediction models of the profit gain per year. The most important economic assessment indicators are the Payback period, NPV (Net present value), and cost to benefit ratio. These indicators can also be used for the informal waste business and generate maximum benefit. These indicators are never used before for the informal recycling business in Pakistan. The e-waste recycling business in the developing country, including Pakistan, indicates around 12 percent of the equipment being recycled.

Certain measures can be taken to incentivize waste generation; the formal waste sectors have a documented record of the recyclables, but this particular practice is missing in the informal waste sector. By signing a memorandum of understanding between both sectors, more revenue could be generated.

The Public-Private partnership of the Formal and Informal waste recycling sector could help the economy grow and mitigate pollution-related issues, as the informal waste recycling project’s payback period is around three years. Informal waste pickers are underpaid. Pakistan’s informal waste sector can be a potential source for profit-generating only if the public and private sectors devise policies and programs for enhancing the recycling business.

By Ali Asad

The author is doing M. Phil in Public Policy and Governance. He is working  as a freelancer. Previously worked with HubPages and Washington Post.

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