Waste is an unavoidable by product of human activities. Economic development, urbanization and improving living standards in cities, have led to an increase in the quantity and complexity of generated waste. Rapid growth of population and industrialization degrades the urban environment and places serious stress on natural resources, which undermines equitable and sustainable development. Inefficient management and disposal of solid waste is an obvious cause of degradation of the environment in most cities of the developing world. Municipal corporations of the developing countries are not able to handle increasing quantities of waste, which results in uncollected waste on roads and in other public places. There is a need to work towards a sustainable waste management system, which requires environmental, institutional, financial, economic and social sustainability.This study explores alternative approaches to municipal solid waste (MSW) management and estimates the cost of waste management in Mumbai, India. Two alternatives considered in the paper are community participation and public private partnership in waste management. Data for the present study are from various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and from the private sector involved in waste management in Mumbai. Mathematical models are used to estimate the cost per ton of waste management for both of the alternatives, which are compared with the cost of waste management by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). It is found that the cost per ton of waste management is Rs. 1518 (US$35) with community participation; Rs. 1797 (US$41) with public private partnership (PPP); and Rs. 1908 (US$44) when only MCGM handles the waste. Hence, community participation in waste management is the least cost option and there is a strong case for comprehensively involving community participation in waste management. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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