Waste management in South Carolina

Waste management in South Carolina

Public authorities in SC very often follow the model displayed by the federal government. The objective of the local authorities is then to ensure that their city achieves this good operating condition, that the entire population is served by a standard quality waste management service.

This quality corresponds to the standards promoted by international organizations (World Bank, by the United Nations Environment Program, etc.), on the basis of what exists in developed countries, namely the disposal of solid waste and water.

The waste evacuation takes place on the outskirts of the city, to infrastructures allowing their treatment (recovery, disposal or storage). However, cities are trying to achieve this result in a difficult context, since the economic, financial, human or urban contexts are not the same everywhere. The establishment of urban networks has benefited from the active support of the state since the second half of the 19th century (as for water and sanitation).

In this context, cities often have to be content with fighting against informal actors and illegal practices in order to limit the negative aspects of the situation. These practices are being implemented in a system parallel to the legal system, since the municipality is not able to provide quality waste disposal services to all of its city dwellers.

These are illegal systems, which do not meet any standards of environmental protection, limitation of health risk or consideration of social criteria. However, the existence of these informal services does indeed allow the city to function, the populations to have access to drinking water and electricity or to evacuate their wastewater and solid waste.

Instead of spending their meager financial and human resources hunting down illegal systems, municipalities would do well to focus their efforts on better articulation between formal and informal systems. The objective is obviously not to lower the quality of the service offered.

On the contrary, it is about trying to move towards a gradual improvement of the system for all the inhabitants, taking into account the reality on the ground, without seeking to reach an inaccessible utopian model.

This reflection is based on information from the census and on current developments. Many similar works have produced the same types of results in cities. The methodology of this various research and the terminologies used are not always the same, but the observations all point to similar initiatives seeking to institutionalize the articulation between formal and informal sectors.

Some works on American cities show similar logics, but the urban and socioeconomic context remains very different from one location to another.

The public waste management system

Before viewing the coexistence and changes between the different waste management systems, it is necessary to detail the operation of each of them. The specificity of cities is that within the same urban agglomeration, there are three complementary, articulated waste management systems, but with distinct characteristics.

Follow the waste management model of clean cities

The public waste management system is currently the most common in American cities, as it is in North American or European cities. Its application has been effective since the second half of the 19th century in Europe. Inspired by hygiene movements, the goal is to limit the local health impact and, in the short term, the waste produced by a city.

That is to say, it is about removing waste outside the city and, as much as possible, disposing of it, using roll-off dumpster rentals if necessary.

Since the phase of very strong urban growth in American cities, after the Second World War, the main objective of waste management programs has therefore been to evacuate it, in order to limit the health risks incurred by the populations. The municipalities then put a lot of emphasis on the collection stage, initially neglecting the processing stage. We know the same order of priorities for wastewater management.