Ministry of Science &Technology

Development 17th Floor,

Livingstone House ,48

Samora Machel Ave,

Harare Tel;04-794117




Waste Management

Waste management is the collection, transportation, processing, recycling or disposal and monitoring of waste material. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity and is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health and the environment. 


Few methods of waste disposal are used in Zimbabwe. One method is called landfill and it involves burying the waste. Recycling is another method that is used. This has mainly been used by small scale entrepreneurs who use waste to produce items like toys and candleholders whilst on an industrial scale, there are companies involved in recycling glass and paper.

Another method of waste management is composting, and anaerobic digestion. The resulting material is used as mulch or compost for landscaping purposes. 

“The problem of litter is now quite rampant throughout the country and if we are to find a solution we have to deal with human attitude first. For instance, when customers go into shops they have a habit of collecting plastic bags and dump them on the streets. They should learn to use one shopping bag several times,” said Mr Rambwai Mapako, an environmental officer with the Environmental Management Authority 

He said that the city council should first provide bins and make sure that they collect litter regulary. Apart from that all non biodegradable waste should be recycled. In the central business district of Harare a number of shops have been subdivided but there has not been a corresponding increase of litter bins. For instance where there was one shop there are now several shops. 

Mr Mapako said there was a breakdown of essential services due to the economic hardships the country has been experiencing during the last few years. Local authorities had not been able to provide bins to communities.

Modernisation has played a great role in increasing litter in the city. For example, in the past people used towel nappies unlike today when they are using disposable products which are contributing to the rapid accumulation of garbage.

Modern marketing has resulted in commodities being packaged in fancy materials that cause environmental pollution. 

“As the Environmental Management Authority, we work with local authorities to ensure that cities and the country as a whole are clean. We have a right to prosecute the local authority but the first step is to create awareness among people by designing fliers and creating an environment club.” 

Mr Mapako said the first step is to teach people to keep the environment clean. The authority has currently engaged a local bottling company to assist in clearing litter in the city. If the current state of affairs continues, people risk getting cholera especially where there is a combination of the litter and blocked sewer pipes. The situation also compromises the beauty of the city. 

The Environmental Management Authority is also working with other countries like South Africa to find a lasting solution to the garbage problem.

Mr Karikoga Kaseke the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority expressed concern at the amount of litter in Harare and other cities. 

“It is cultural for Zimbabweans to welcome guests in a clean environment but what is happening is to the contrary. Harare was dubbed the sunshine city because it used to be a clean city but now it is no longer the same and the situation is equally bad in all towns.”                 

Mr Kaseke said litter around the country does not support tourism. He advocated for a re-launch of the clean-up campaign that was started by Vice President Joyce Mujuru last year.

“There is need to impose stiff penalties against offenders. For example, in Singapore, people are jailed for littering and spitting on the street,” he said.

Mr Albert Katsande a representative of the Retailers Association of Zimbabwe said legislation against littering needed to be enforced with strong deterrant penalties for both individuals and companies. 

“People also need to be educated about the impact of littering and made aware through campaigns.

“There is need for adequate and frequent refuse or waste removal facilities and programmes respectively, which will encourage members of the public to put there litter in designated places where it can be collected. Once collected, the litter should be taken to disposal sites where it is sorted and separated according to its different components such as bottles, cans, plastics, cloth and paper,” he said. 

Mr Katsande said that there is need to establish proper recycling programmes.

“Plastics, bottles and paper can be reused while cans can be crashed and exported.”

Government could play a great role of partnering with non-governmental organizations such as Environment Africa to work out solutions to the problem. The other way of solving the problem was to launch anti-litter campaigns and programmes in schools.


Retailers and environmentalists have noted that the decline in local manufacturing over the last few years has resulted in the rise of litter because of the country’s heavy dependence on imports.


“As a result there is no ownership of the litter problem by the importer. Local manufacturing companies normally take responsibility of their packaging material and its collection,” said Mr Katsande.


He said the emerging plethora of “new unorganized retailers” have made this effort ineffective adding that Zimbabwe should put in place legislation regulating the use of carrier bags, their prices as well as their quality.


“Retailers should be encouraged to buy local products as well as sponsor and establish recycling centres at shopping centres.”


Harare residents said they have nowhere to throw away their litter so they end up dumping waste where they see heaps of rubbish. A critical shortage of bins has compounded the problem.


“Rural to urban migration has been on the increase over the past ten years and the Harare City Council cannot cope with the resultant demand for refuse collection.” said Mr Shadreck Moyo, a resident.


He said children are sometimes cut by bottles among other dangerous substances they pick from dumpsites.


“During this rainy season we have a serious problem. Since the litter invites a lot of flies which carry diseases.”


Mr Dombo Chibanda the City of Harare waste management director said one of the solutions to the problem was for the council to increase the strategic distribution of pole litter bins in the central business district.


“The council has been failing to efficiently and timeously collect waste due to depleted resources,” he said.


He cited proper landscaping of open spaces, as one way of discouraging people from littering everywhere.


“The other problem is that there has been an increase in illegal vending, hence the need to control the informal sector activities,” he said.


Another waste management officer, Benson Kanyangarara said uncollected cardboard boxes behind many shops were contributing to the litter problem.


He said local companies that were involved in the recycling of cardboard have closed shop because of lack of demand for the product on the local market. Most of the boxes come from South Africa already packed with goods.


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