Waste Management in Ban Samran Gai Na
Liz Hart, Emily Strome, Annie Zhang, Laura Franke, and Alex King
Khon Kaen University
As American exchange students studying at the Faculty of Public Health at Khon Kaen
University, we have been learning about various public health issues and research methods. The accumulation of the knowledge acquired in the past four months have culminated into a research project focused on Ban Samran Gai Na’s waste management system because of a previous community visit that had villagers repeatedly citing the current waste situation as an issue. As a result, further information was gathered on the community’s solid waste management, with a focus on the residents’ waste disposal behaviors for foliage, recyclables, food waste, and toxic waste. The intention of this report is to provide the municipality with a better understanding of villagers’ waste disposal behaviors as well as attitudes and opinions on the current waste management system.
Research on Gai Na’s waste management system consisted of various focus groups and interviews, which were 20 semi-structured interviews, two focus groups, and three unstructured interviews with the community’s recycling vendor, headman’s assistant, and municipality employee. From the data collected, an intervention day occurred to address the gaps found in Gai
Na’s waste disposal system.
Issues with Waste Disposal
While the four municipal collection waste bins have only been newly introduced to the
Gai-Na community, all of the interviewees utilize the bins to dispose their waste. Many of the interviewees stated that they preferred the current disposal system compared to the previous disposal system. The current waste disposal system has improved the waste situation in the community, with 15 of the 20 interviewees satisfied with the changes made to the municipal’s waste service.
Interviewees had suggestions for improving the current waste disposal system. The overflow of the four collection waste bins is a concern for villagers, which has been further
exacerbated by the irregular waste pick-up times. Many of the interviewees listed inconsistent pick-up times with some stating everyday and others stating once every two weeks.
During an interview with a Municipality staff member, there was expressed interest in establishing a composting initiative in Gai Na to reduce the amount of waste in bins. By establishing a composting initiative in Gai Na, there would be less organic waste, which would subsequently decrease the amount of overall waste in the bins. However, in a focus group with
Meh Bans, many were disinterested in a composting project because there is no space, time, and interest for such an initiative.
Separation of Waste
Each interviewee for the semi-structured interviews was asked how they separate their trash and disposed of food waste, recycling, yard waste/foliage, and toxic waste. Of the twenty community members interviewed, six villagers said their household separates out food waste and composts it, six said they put food waste in a separate bag and place it in the bin, and eight said they put it in their regular trash bag and put the bag in the bin. Regarding recycling, 18 interviewees sell their recyclables to a vendor within the community, one said they sell their recyclables directly to the recycling center, and one said they throw recyclables away. For yard waste and foliage: five interviewees said they composted their waste, two said they put it in trash bags and then in the bin, eight said they burn foliage, and two said they specifically gather foliage around trees on their property. 75 percent of those interviewed responded that they dispose of toxic waste by putting it in trash bags with the rest of their trash. Two said they throw it away in a separate bag and then into the bin. One interviewee said she buries her toxic waste, another sells toxic waste, and another throws it around the yard.
For a vast majority of community members interviewed in Gai Na, recycling was linked directly to a vendor within the community. The vendor pays villagers for their recyclables (by weight), then separates them and sells them to a middleman. There are no scavengers within the community but there are occasional scavengers from outside the community that will scavenge the waste collection bins in Gai Na.
A vast majority of villagers (over one-fourth of participants) burn their foliage because the municipality prohibits it from being disposed at the waste disposal sites. Observations from
the community visits confirm that burning exists in villagers’ yard and near the waste collection bins and the temple.
Every individual interviewed informed us that they directed all of their questions and concerns regarding waste management to the Municipality. Community members were all aware of how to reach the Municipality as well as where the Municipality office was located. Despite this awareness of municipality educational sessions and programs, and VHV knowledge on waste disposal, community members remained uneducated about waste management, especially regarding separation of waste.
On May 7th, all members (five people) of the research group carried out the intervention plan in Ban Samran Gai Na for three hours. The intervention plan consisted of distributing two
26x34 biodegradable trash bags and a waste separation flyer to 150 households as well as collecting waste along the sides of the Gai Na road and around three waste collection bins. A total of four 30x40 biodegradable trash bags were filled with miscellaneous waste that included exploded batteries, plastic bags, glass bottles, and Styrofoam.
In sharing our findings, we hope to improve the understanding and communication between the municipality office and Ban Samran Gai Na.