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  • Published: 19 August 2023

Household practices and determinants of solid waste segregation in Addis Ababa city, Ethiopia

  • Worku Adefris 1 ,
  • Shimeles Damene   ORCID: 1 &
  • Poshendra Satyal 2  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  10 , Article number:  516 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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  • Development studies
  • Environmental studies
  • Health humanities

Solid waste segregation plays a critical role in effective waste management; however, the practice remains at a low level in developing countries like Ethiopia. Despite the persistent nature of the problem, there are limited studies to date that can provide sufficient empirical evidence to support appropriate efforts by policy makers and practitioners, particularly in the context of the developing world. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to analyze household practices and determinants of solid waste segregation in the urban areas of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. To achieve this objective, data were generated through a household survey, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and field observations. The collected quantitative data were cleaned, encoded, and statistically analyzed using descriptive statistics in SPSS, while thematic analysis was undertaken to evaluate and describe the qualitative data. The data analysis revealed that only 21.3% of respondents reported frequent solid waste segregation, while about half (45.5%) segregated solid waste rarely. Conversely, a considerable proportion (28.7%) of the respondents reported not segregating solid waste, and the remaining 4.5% of respondents were unsure about the practice. This implies that only one-fifth of the total sampled respondents actually implement solid waste segregation practices at the household level. The chi-square test showed that respondents’ awareness/training ( P  = 0.000) and use of social organizations to discuss waste management ( P  = 0.001) are significantly associated with the practice of solid waste segregation. This highlights the need to focus on awareness-raising efforts among the general public in order to improve the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of individual households and residents toward solid waste segregation practices. Additionally, enabling policies, sufficient infrastructure, and incentive mechanisms can also help enhance wider adoption of the practices.

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Solid waste management is a critical issue in various countries around the world (Nyampundu et al., 2020 ). Factors such as rising population density, urbanization, economic growth, and industrialization often contribute to an increasing volume of solid waste generated (Xiao et al., 2020 ). Globally, the average annual volume of solid waste generated by cities is estimated to be 1.9 billion tons (Kasozi and Von Blottnitz, 2010 ). In sub-Saharan cities, the volume reaches approximately 62 million tons per year (Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata, 2012 ). Effective solid waste management is crucial in minimizing health and environmental risks associated with waste in urban areas, particularly in the developing world (Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata, 2012 ; Amuda et al., 2014 ; Xiao et al., 2020 ). However, local authorities, especially in the urban settings of sub-Saharan Africa, face significant challenges in implementing effective and well-organized solid waste management (Firdaus and Ahmad, 2010 ). Rapid urbanization leading to increasing consumption and waste generation (both in terms of quantity and diversity) can deplete resources, cause environmental problems, and have significant social and economic impacts (Rousta and Ekström, 2013 ).

Developed countries have recognized the importance of waste segregation and recycling in improving solid waste management, leading them to implement various approaches such as the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) policies, legislations, and strategies (Falk and McKeever, 2004 ; Kang and Schoenung, 2005 ; Kumar et al., 2017 ). However, developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, have made limited progress and effort in this regard. A study by Kihila et al. ( 2021 ) highlighted the weak legal reinforcement of waste segregation practices in Tanzania at all stages, including household, collection, and disposal. This is primarily due to a lack of attention, inefficient coordination among various actors, financial constraints, capacity deficiencies, poor infrastructure, and governance issues.

Ethiopia, like many other developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has experienced rapid urbanization in recent years. This has resulted in overcrowding and the emergence of informal settlements with poor waste management practices, leading to public health and environmental problems (Nebiyou, 2020 ). Among developing cities, Addis Ababa has faced significant challenges related to poorly managed solid waste operations. The city’s waste generation has increased, but effective solid waste collection and management practices have been lacking (Gelan, 2021 ). These problems are influenced by various factors, including institutional, social, and contextual aspects of waste segregation (Zemena, 2016 ). Despite the persisting issues of solid waste collection and management, particularly regarding the practice of solid waste segregation, there is a limited empirical research in this area for Addis Ababa. This study aims to fill this research gap by assessing the determinants of solid waste segregation practices in Addis Ababa city. In so doing, the study seeks to provide an evidence-based understanding of the issue, support waste management implementation activities, facilitate policy-making, and contribute additional knowledge on the subject. The findings from this study may also offer valuable insights for other developing cities facing similar challenges.

Literature review

Theoretical background.

The evolving concept of waste management is centered around the principles of waste reduction, reuse, and recycling, with the aim of preventing harm to human health and the environment (Pongrácz et al., 2004 ). In addition, effective waste management plays a crucial role in achieving a circular economy, which has become a priority in many developed regions, especially in Europe. The circular economy aims to conserve resources and promote their circularity, leading to a more sustainable and economically viable future.

There is no single universal theory of waste management that can be directly applied as a practical tool for controlling waste-related activities (Pongrácz et al., 2004 ; Pongrácz, 2002 ). According to Pongrácz et al. ( 2004 ), a comprehensive waste management theory should involve a conceptual description of waste management that provides clear definitions of all waste-related concepts. Therefore, the achievement of sustainable waste management relies heavily on defining it properly and proposing an appropriate methodology that organizes the various variables of waste management systems. Pongrácz et al. ( 2004 ) emphasized four fundamental notions that should form the basis of waste management theory: (i) prevention of waste causing harm to human health and the environment; (ii) conservation of resources; (iii) reduction of waste creation by producing useful objects; and (iv) transformation of waste into non-waste materials.

In the context of waste management practices at the city or municipal level, it is important to apply and contextualize these core notions. Municipal solid waste management encompasses a range of tasks and activities, including waste generation control, storage, collection, transfer and transport, processing, and disposal (Rada et al., 2013 ). The overarching objective of these activities is to minimize the negative impacts of waste on human health and the environment, while simultaneously promoting economic development and improving quality of life (USEPA, 2020 ). Effective municipal solid waste management plays a crucial role in achieving efficient resource utilization, enhancing environmental quality and human health, and delivering socioeconomic benefits to local residents.

Solid waste management practices

The total urban waste generation is approximately 2 billion tons per year globally, with a projected per-capita increase of around 20% by the year 2100 (World Bank, 2018 ). As a result, municipal solid waste is considered a significant issue worldwide, as reflected in its inclusion within the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goals 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and 12 (responsible consumption and production). Effective waste management also plays a role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 10–20% (Wilson, 2015 ; Hondo et al., 2020 ) and protecting the environment (Izvercian and Ivascu, 2015 ).

The generation rate and composition of solid waste vary across countries and regions due to socio-economic and cultural factors that influence consumption and production patterns. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the waste generation patterns within national and local contexts, taking into account socio-economic factors. This understanding helps inform waste management planning and actions (Ngoc and Schnitzer, 2009 ). Accurate data on solid waste generation and waste management practices are also essential for estimating the necessary human resources, equipment, and materials. Such data helps determine the size and location of waste collection and segregation facilities, design waste disposal systems, and develop overall waste management policies and plans (Ezeah and Roberts, 2012 ).

Solid waste production, particularly in developing countries, is experiencing a significant increase that exceeds the capacities of cities and municipalities in terms of removal and recycling. In these countries, the waste collection rates are 70% lower than the generation rates, and over 50% of the collected waste is disposed of in uncontrolled landfills or open dumpsites, often without adequate recycling measures (UNDESA, 2012 ). Ethiopia serves as an example of the consequences of inadequate solid waste management, with approximately 20–30% of the waste generated in its capital city, Addis Ababa, remaining uncollected (Tilaye and Dijk 2014 ).

Waste segregation practices

In the developed world, solid waste management methods have undergone progressive changes over the years. For instance, in Japan, separate waste collection was introduced in the 1970s and gradually became a common practice among citizens (Africa Data Book, 2019 ). However, in developing countries, waste segregation is not widely practiced (Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata, 2012 ). Source segregation of waste ensures that it is less contaminated and can be collected and transported for further processing. It also optimizes waste processing and treatment technologies, resulting in a higher quantity of segregated materials that can be recycled and reused, thus reducing the need for virgin materials (Ministry of Indian Urban Development, 2016 ). Similarly, waste segregation during or before collection improves efficiency and reduces costs by minimizing the labor and infrastructure required for segregating mixed wastes. However, in many developing countries, regular solid waste segregation is not practiced by users at the source, making the collection of segregated waste challenging in urban areas (Saja et al., 2021 ). This may be attributed to factors such as a lack of public awareness, limited investment in recycling facilities, and slow adoption of solid waste segregation practices (Abdel-Shafy and Mansour, 2018 ).

According to Kihila et al. ( 2021 ), there is still inadequate implementation of recycling practices in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily due to slow and limited behavioral change, as well as insufficient technologies for reuse, recycling, and recovery. In Ethiopia, the amount of generated waste varies (ranging between 0.25 and 0.49 kilogram per capita per day) by source in urban areas, including households, health institutions, commercial centers, industries, hotels, and street sweepings. Among these sources, households account for 70% of the total volume of solid waste generated in Addis Ababa municipality, with the remaining contributions coming from commercial centers (9%), industries (6%), hotels (3%), health institutions (1%), street sweepings (10%), and other sources (1%). The physical composition of the waste is estimated to include fruit and vegetables (4.2%), paper (2.5%), rubber/plastics (2.9%), woody materials (2.3%), bone (1.1%), textiles (2.4%), metals (0.9%), glass (0.5%), combustibles leaves (15.1%), non-combustible stones (2.5%), and 65.6% different fine materials such as sand, ash, and dust (Gelan, 2021 ). Moreover, solid waste management strategies such as prevention (reduction), reuse, and recycling, along with appropriate solid waste collection, segregation, transportation, and disposal, have been rarely adopted in Ethiopian cities. Source separation of solid waste can promote reuse and recycling practices and encourage informal private sector involvement in these activities (Hirpe and Yeom, 2021 ).

Ethiopia has established a legal framework (Negarit Gazeta Proclamation No. 513/ 2007 ) for solid waste management. Article 11:1 of the proclamation mandates households to segregate non-decomposable solid waste at the source for proper disposal at designated collection sites. However, despite these legal provisions, solid waste segregation has not been widely adopted (Abebe, 2017 ). Therefore, it is crucial to understand the factors influencing and the barriers to the practice of solid waste segregation. This study aimed to address the knowledge gap regarding this issue by analyzing the determinants of solid waste segregation in Addis Ababa city. The findings of the study can offer empirical insights and evidence-based recommendations for practitioners, policy makers, and the research community in improving solid waste management practices.


Description of the study area.

Addis Ababa, the political capital of Ethiopia and its primary commercial and cultural center, is situated geographically between 8°50’ and 9°06’N latitude and 38°39’ to 38°55’E longitude (Fig. 1 ). The city is located at an average altitude of 2400 meters above sea level (a.s.l.), with the highest elevations reaching approximately 3200 meters a.s.l. at mount Entoto in the north. As a result, Addis Ababa is classified as a high-altitude global city. The city spans a total land area of 540 square kilometers and is surrounded by hilly and mountainous terrain to the north and west. Drainage in Addis Ababa is facilitated by small rivers known as Akaki, including small and big Akaki, which originate from different locations and converge near the city’s outskirts. These rivers, namely small and big Akaki, have influenced the city’s landform (Abnet et al., 2017 ) and are vulnerable to pollution from solid and liquid waste.

figure 1

Map of the study districts showing the location of sample woredas (Pinkish) and sub-cities (Indicolite Green) of Addis Ababa City (Topaz Sand) the capital of Ethiopia (Sodalite Blue) in Africa (Yucca Yellow) (Source of the data/(shape file: Ethiopian Central Statistical Authority, 2007). Source: Developed by the researcher using Ethio-GIS database (2007).

In recent years, waste generation in Addis Ababa has experienced a significant increase, with no signs of reduction, while waste management practices have remained largely traditional. The city has an estimated daily per capita solid waste generation capacity of approximately 0.45 kg (Gelan, 2021 ). Considering the city’s geographical area and population, the average waste generation is estimated to be around 330 kg/m 3 , resulting in a daily solid waste generation of approximately 6019 m 3 . Currently, the municipal solid waste produced in the city is directed to an uncontrolled landfill site called Koshe ( Reppi ). This landfill site has been associated with serious health and environmental risks, including foul odor and the discharge of contaminated leachates into surrounding areas and communities.

The population of Addis Ababa engages in various economic activities, with different sectors contributing to the city’s livelihoods. The major occupations include trade and commerce, which accounts for 22.6% of the population, followed by manufacturing (21.6%), the construction industry (15.3%), public service (13.5%), transport and communication (9.6%), social services—including health, education and other (8.1%), hotel and similar services (6.2%), and 3.1% urban agriculture (3.1%) (Abebe, 2017 ). The city has a considerable capacity of delivering economies of scale due to its concentrated demand, specialization, diversity, innovation, and technology transfer, enabling a broader range of operations (Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata, 2012 ). However, as consumption and production patterns continue to rise, Addis Ababa faces a significant challenge of generating a high volume of solid waste (Gelan, 2021 ). Despite this, solid waste management, particularly waste segregation practices, lags behind considerably in the city.

Sampling and data collection

In this study, Addis Ababa city was divided into three clusters based on economic activities, and waste generation capacity. The clusters were determined based on dominant activities such as business, residence, office, and other services one sub-city was purposefully selected from each cluster in consultation with the city’s solid waste management office. Out of the 11 sub-cities, the selected sub-cities were Addis Ketema (representing low waste generation capacity), Yeka (representing medium waste generation capacity), and Bole (representing high waste generation capacity). Subsequently, one woreda (district) was randomly chosen from each selected sub-city using a lottery method. The selected woredas were woreda 07, woreda 09, and woreda 01, representing Addis Ketema, Yeka, and Bole sub-cities, respectively. Based on the city administration data for the year 2022, the total number of households in the sampled woredas were as follows: 3576 in woreda 07; 4573 in woreda 09; and 3523 households in woreda 01.

The study utilized a descriptive research approach to examine the pattern of solid waste segregation practices in Addis Ababa. Both primary and secondary data were collected to achieve the research objectives. The primary data was collected from households through a questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and field observations. The survey questions had varying properties, with some being dichotomous (requiring a single response) and others allowing for multiple responses. As a result, certain variables in the analysis do not add up to the total sample size (i.e. n  = 245).

Focus group discussions were conducted in each woreda , involving groups of 8–12 participants. The participants mainly consisted of members of waste collection enterprises who were engaged in door-to-door waste collection and segregation at the source (temporary collection site). It is important to note that the segregation at the source primarily focused on separating non-decomposable materials such as plastic bags, bottles, metal scraps, and glass from decomposable materials.

Fifteen interviews were conducted with woreda leaders of waste collectors, officials from the Addis Ababa City Solid Waste Management Agency, and staff from the solid waste cleansing office in the sampled woredas . Before the actual household survey and data collection, a pilot test was conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the questionnaire. Field observations were also conducted, with a specific focus on door-to-door waste collection, segregation, and management practices. These observations were guided by a checklist and documented in a research diary, which served as an important resource for data interpretation and analysis.

In the study, the sample size was determined by Cochran’s formula (Cochran, 1977 ): ( \({{{n}}} = {\textstyle{{{{{Z}}}^2{{{pq}}}} \over {{{{e}}}^2}}}\) ). In this formula, n represents the sample size, z is the selected critical value corresponding to the desired confidence level, p is the estimated proportion of an attribute in the population, q  = 1− p , and e is the desired level of precision, with a 95% confidence level and a maximum variability in a population of 0.5. Accordingly, the survey questionnaire was administered to 245 respondents by a trained enumerator in May 2022 from the three sampled woredas with a total household population of 11,762.

Using the Cochran ( 1977 ) formula with a 95% confidence level and a precision of 0.05, and assuming a variability of 20% due to time constraints, the sample size was calculated as follows:

Therefore, the sample size was determined to be 245.

The sampled proportion was then distributed in each woreda (Table 1 ) based on the number of households, using the formula: \(nh = \left( {{\textstyle{{Nh} \over N}}} \right){{{n}}}\) where Nh represents the population on each woreda , N is the total household population, nh is the total sampled population.

It is worth noting that one questionnaire had missing values, resulting in a total of 244 questionnaires being used for the analysis. The survey questionnaire also included a section on the socio-demographic profile of the households. In this study, a chi-square model was employed to test the relationship between categorical data.

Results and discussion

Solid waste segregation practices.

Table 2 presents the findings of the solid waste segregation practices based on the analysis of data from 244 respondents. The analysis revealed that the majority of survey households (63.5%) recognized the importance of solid waste segregation practices. This indicates that the community has a significant understanding of solid waste segregation, which can encourage the actual implementation of segregation practices.

According to the input from focus group discussions and key informant interviews, mass media, health extension services, and waste collectors have played a major role in disseminating information (although it has been limited thus far) on the importance of solid waste segregation. A study conducted by Otitoju and Seng ( 2014 ) in Malaysia also indicated that a large proportion (86.3%) of respondents had heard about waste segregation through mass media or community discussions. However, the authors emphasized that simply providing information does not guarantee people’s active involvement in implementing waste segregation practices. Similarly, Abdel-Shafy and Mansour ( 2018 ) reported that the success of any solid waste segregation practice heavily relies on the level of public awareness and active participation of different communities. It is essential for the community to undergo a radical attitudinal change that allows the acquired knowledge to be translated into practical implementation.

The study also examined the willingness of respondents to engage in solid waste segregation practices, revealing that the majority (84%) expressed their willingness to implement the practice. This indicates a significant potential to translate this willingness into action through further efforts in public awareness campaigns, capacity-building initiatives, and policy support.

A similar study conducted in Suzhou, China demonstrated that residents’ positive attitudes and willingness to engage in solid waste separation played a crucial role in the rapid adoption of the practice (Zhang and Wen, 2014 ). This suggests that by leveraging the positive attitudes and willingness of individuals, combined with educational initiatives, the implementation of solid waste segregation practices can be accelerated.

The study found that slightly more than half of the respondents (54.1%) reported a lack of sufficient space to segregate waste in their residence areas. Focus group discussants further highlighted the challenges faced by waste collectors in segregating waste in congested living conditions. This indicates that the absence of adequate space to segregate collected waste in situ in residential areas is a barrier to achieving the required level of segregation for different communities.

This finding aligns with a study conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ( 2020 ), which emphasized that a well-designed storage system will not be effective if the locations or containers for waste segregation are inconvenient for residents or waste collectors. Therefore, addressing the issue of limited space and ensuring convenient and accessible segregation points are crucial factors for promoting effective waste segregation practices.

The study found that 54.5% of the respondents do not prepare different containers for solid waste segregation, while 45.9% of respondents reported not having the necessary materials for segregating waste or keeping different kinds of waste separately. This indicates that overall, the practice of solid waste segregation at the source (household) is poor in the community.

A study conducted by Tassie et al. ( 2019 ) supports these findings, highlighting the importance of good awareness and appropriate facilities for the proper implementation of segregation practices. When the community has sufficient awareness and motivation, individual households can use materials available at home such as baskets, cardboard boxes, bamboo containers, cans, plastic bags, barrels, etc., to prepare temporary storage containers for waste segregation. Similarly, Otitoju and Seng ( 2014 ) found that providing more facilities such as bins and containers in housing areas, in addition to creating awareness, can enhance community participation in waste segregation.

Among the survey households, 45.5% reported segregating waste sometimes, while 21.3% reported segregating waste regularly. On the other hand, 28.7% of respondents did not segregate waste before disposing of it from their homes or compounds, and 4.5% were unsure about the practice. This indicates that only one-fifth of sampled respondents correctly implement solid waste segregation at the household level, while the majority (79%) either practice segregation rarely or not at all. For those households not practicing segregation or uncertain about it, targeted interventions such as education, public awareness campaigns, enabling policies, sufficient infrastructure, and incentive mechanisms need to be implemented by the relevant authorities to promote the adoption and scaling up of segregation practices. A study by Yoada et al. ( 2014 ) in Accra, Ghana, reported that only 17.3% of respondents indicated that the households sort waste by category at home before delivering it to collectors, which reflects the broader trend observed in many African cities.

Table 2 provides insights into the reasons for the non-segregation of waste at the household or outdoor level. According to the table, 50.4% of the respondents thought that they generate a very small amount of waste, leading them to consider waste separation as pointless. Additionally, 25.6% of respondents reported a lack of facilities for waste segregation, 10.5% mentioned the inability to afford dust bins due to cost, and another 10.5% were not aware of the practice of segregation.

During the focus group discussions, participants expressed the view that segregation could be more feasible if they generated larger volumes of solid waste. Some participants expressed the need for external support to provide facilities such as dust bins, while others showed a lack of concern and awareness about the importance of solid waste segregation. These findings suggest a lack of awareness and limited motivation among the community to engage in segregation practices. In line with these findings, Kihila et al. ( 2021 ) also reported that people often disregard segregating waste at the source due to poor awareness, lack of facilities and equipment like containers, or the low volumes of recyclable materials generated.

The study found that in terms of separating waste at temporary solid waste disposal places, 36.9% of the respondents do not separate the waste at all, and 12.3% are unsure about whether they separate solid waste. On the other hand, 29.9% of the respondents always separate waste, and 20.9% sometimes separate waste. These findings suggest that, in general, the community has a low inclination toward practicing solid waste segregation outside their homes. There seems to be a common attitude of “I don’t care after I’ve used it”.

These findings align with the study conducted by Otitoju and Seng ( 2014 ), which revealed that communities do not have a promising attitude towards solid waste segregation as long as the waste is collected. The research conducted in Accra by Yoada et al. ( 2014 ) also highlighted that citizens do not take responsibility for proper waste disposal, including segregation, as they rely on the government to remove household-generated waste. This can be attributed, in part, to a poor attitude and lack of concern about the environment and public health.

These attitudes and behaviors reflect a need for increased awareness, education, and a shift in mindset toward the importance of proper waste segregation and disposal. Efforts to promote community engagement, responsible waste management practices, and environmental consciousness can help address these challenges and encourage greater participation in waste segregation.

According to Fig. 2 , the majority (76.2%) of respondents associate the 3Rs (Reuse, Recycling, and Recovery) primarily with the segregation of waste. A portion of respondents (12.3%) reported not knowing about the 3Rs, and 11.5% were unsure. Overall, the majority of participants demonstrated a good understanding of the 3Rs, particularly in relation to solid waste segregation. They recognized the economic value of waste and provided examples such as using animal dung or other decomposable waste for composting and selling plastic bottles to generate income.

figure 2

Source: Questionnaire survey (2022).

Kihila et al. ( 2021 ) reported that waste segregation is a crucial element in the waste management chain for effective implementation of the 3Rs. Segregation at the source simplifies handling and processing, thereby facilitating resource recovery, promoting reuse and recycling, and reducing operational costs. Similarly, Otitoju and Seng ( 2014 ) suggested that discarded products and waste materials possess economic value when they are reused or reintroduced into the technological cycle. Therefore, source segregation is fundamental for successful and economically viable recycling activities.

According to Fig. 3 , when asked about the importance of solid waste segregation at the source for waste reduction, over 73% of the respondents believed that the practice is effective in reducing waste. Only 3.2% perceived that it does not contribute to waste reduction, and the remaining respondents were unsure. This indicates that a significant number of community members understand that segregating waste at the source can lead to a reduction in the volume of generated solid waste at various levels.

figure 3

Source: Questionnaire survey, 2022.

This finding is consistent with the study conducted by Otitoju and Seng ( 2014 ), which emphasizes that practicing segregation at the source can significantly reduce the amount of solid waste that ends up in landfills. Similarly, the study by Kihila et al. ( 2021 ) suggests that waste segregation at the source can lead to a significant reduction in waste volumes, ultimately improving the efficiency of collection and disposal processes. These findings highlight the importance of promoting and implementing solid waste segregation practices as an effective means of waste reduction, contributing to more efficient waste management systems.

Figure 4 illustrates the type of materials used for waste collection among the survey respondents. The majority (65.2%) reported using sacks, 12.3% use plastic bags, 7.7% use both plastic and glass containers, 2.5% use metallic materials, and 12.3% do not use any fixed type of material. The predominant use of sacks for sorting solid waste indicates a potential for reusing or recycling them. However, it is important to note that the use of sacks can lead to the escape of leachate materials, which poses a risk of environmental pollution (e.g., water or soil contamination) and may require frequent replacement (Abebe, 2017 ).

figure 4

Overall, the key informant interviewees and focus group discussants confirmed the low level of understanding and awareness among households regarding solid waste segregation in Addis Ababa, despite some recent improvements. They attributed the limited progress to sporadic door-to-door awareness activities conducted by the health extension workers and informal communication from the waste collectors. However, in most residential areas of the city, proper practices of solid waste segregation have been lagging at all levels.

Determinants of solid waste segregation practices

In the study, Chi-square and t -test analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between various variables and the willingness of solid waste segregation. The p -value was used to assess the statistical significance of the observed results. A p -value of <0.005 indicates a higher level of statistical significance, suggesting a significant correlation between the variables.

The variables of gender, educational level, monthly income, willingness, awareness/training, and use of social organizations were specifically analyzed to determine their potential association with solid waste segregation practices. The results of these analyses can provide insights into the factors that influence the willingness of individuals to engage in solid waste segregation.

Gender and solid waste segregation practice

According to the results presented in Table 3 , the calculated value of Chi-square is 1.565 with a p -value of 0.211. This indicates that there is no significant association between the gender of the respondents and their practice of solid waste segregation at the gate/door.

Traditionally, domestic chores and household management, including activities related to house cleaning, have been culturally associated with women’s roles in many developing countries (Banga, 2011 ). However, our analysis did not find a significant difference between male and female respondents in terms of segregating solid waste before disposal. It is worth noting that female members generally have knowledge and decision-making authority regarding what is considered useful and non-waste, although male members also cooperate in waste management practices.

Educational level of the respondents

According to Table 3 , the p -value obtained for the association between educational level and solid waste segregation practice at the gate/door is 0.446, indicating an insignificant difference. The analysis suggests that the educational level of the respondents is not significantly associated with their practice of solid waste segregation.

This finding is consistent with previous studies conducted by Abebe ( 2017 ) and Otitoju and Seng ( 2014 ), which also reported a lack of significant relationship between the educational level of households and their participation in solid waste segregation at the source. It implies that people’s attitude towards waste segregation, rather than their education or knowledge, plays a more significant role in determining their household-level waste segregation practices.

Monthly income of the respondents

As indicated in Table 3 , the calculated t -test value for the association between monthly income (with a mean monthly income of 5141.4 Birr and 4618.4 Birr std. deviation) and solid waste segregation practice at the gate is −0.185, assuming equal variances, with a p -value of 0.220. This suggests that there is an insignificant association between the monthly income of respondents and their practice of solid waste segregation practice at the gate.

The focus group discussions also supported this finding, as they did not observe any substantial difference in waste segregation practices among households with different income levels. This implies that income level does not play a significant role in determining the extent to which households segregate their solid waste at the source. Other factors, such as awareness, motivation, and access to facilities, may have a stronger influence on waste segregation practices than income alone.

Awareness and training

As presented in Table 3 , the Chi-square test value for the association between respondents’ awareness/training and practice of solid waste segregation at the gate is 50.920, with a p -value of 0.000. This indicates a highly significant ( p  < 001) association between respondent’s awareness or training and their practice of solid waste segregation at the gate.

The analysis demonstrates that an increase in public awareness and the provision of relevant training can have a significant impact on promoting and encouraging solid waste segregation practices at the household or gate/door level. When individuals are aware of the importance of waste segregation and have received appropriate training on how to implement it effectively, they are more likely to actively engage in segregating their waste at the source.

These findings emphasize the importance of targeted awareness campaigns and training programs to improve waste management practices, particularly in promoting solid waste segregation. By increasing the knowledge and understanding of the community, it becomes more feasible to enhance the adoption and implementation of waste segregation practices, leading to more effective waste management and environmental sustainability.

Role of social organizations (e.g. Idir , Ikub )

As indicated in Table 3 , the Chi-square test value for the relationship between the use of social organizations (such as Idir and Iqub ) and the practice of solid waste segregation at the gate is 10.878, with a p -value of 0.001. This suggests a significant association between the use of social organizations and the practice of solid waste segregation.

The findings highlight that individuals who actively participate in social organizations, such as Idir and Iqub , are more likely to engage in solid waste segregation practices at the household or gate/door level. While Idir is aimed at helping each other, especially in funerals or burials, Iqub is a traditional mutual saving and credit association. These social organizations can serve as platforms for disseminating information, promoting awareness, and encouraging community members to adopt sustainable waste management practices. The collective nature of these associations can foster a sense of social responsibility and cooperation, leading to increased participation in waste segregation activities.

Other studies have also shown that active participation in social groups or associations can positively influence individuals’ attitudes and behaviors, including waste management practices. The sense of belonging, shared values, and mutual support within these organizations can contribute to the adoption of group decisions and actions, such as the implementation of waste segregation practices (Begashaw, 1978 ; Aredo, 1993 ).

Therefore, leveraging the existing social organizations in the community and engaging them in waste management initiatives can be an effective strategy to promote and enhance solid waste segregation practices at the household level. By working together through these organizations, communities can create a collective impact and contribute to the improvement of waste management and environmental sustainability.

This study focused on exploring household practices and determinants of solid waste segregation in Addis Ababa city. The findings reveal that solid waste segregation practices at the household level are very low in the city, with significant variations in awareness, understanding, and willingness among the community to adequately implement these practices effectively. Only one-fifth of sampled respondents reported implementing solid waste segregation, while the majority (79%) of the respondents either rarely practiced the segregation or did not at all. Analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data from this study indicates that awareness and attitude regarding solid waste segregation in Addis Ababa city are still poor, despite some recent progress. Consequently, the actual implementation of solid waste segregation practices is generally weak. The analysis demonstrates that household awareness/training and the use of social organizations have a positive and significant impact on solid waste segregation practices. However, other household factors such as gender, income, and education level do not seem to influence households’ willingness to segregate solid waste at home or at the gate. Based on these findings, efforts should be focused on raising broad public awareness and providing training to improve the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of individual households and residents regarding solid waste segregation practices. This should be complemented by necessary policy interventions, such as additional regulatory measures, and support for recycling facilities. Therefore, targeted interventions, including intensive awareness campaigns, the facilitation of relevant infrastructure, and other incentive mechanisms, should be considered by the government and local authorities to promote the adoption and scaling up of waste segregation practices. Although this study had limitations in fully understanding the barriers and opportunities in waste management practices, it provides useful insights for other rapidly urbanizing cities in the developing world. A more detailed study focusing on people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors could further explore the underlying causes of poor waste segregation practices.

Data availability

Data will be shared on reasonable request.

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The authors express their sincere gratitude to all the respondents who participated in the survey, focus group discussion, and key informant interviews. The valuable time and willingness of the participants to share their insights and information were essential for the success of this study. Their contributions have greatly contributed to the generation of meaningful data and the overall quality of the research. The authors appreciate their cooperation and willingness to engage in the research process.

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Adefris, W., Damene, S. & Satyal, P. Household practices and determinants of solid waste segregation in Addis Ababa city, Ethiopia. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 10 , 516 (2023).

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Testing the Role of Waste Management and Environmental Quality on Health Indicators Using Structural Equation Modeling in Pakistan

Associated data.

Data published in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to the policy of the research project.

Improper management of municipal waste has become a growing concern globally due to its impact on the environment, health, and overall living conditions of households in cities. Waste production has increased because households do not adopt waste management practices that ensure sustainability. Previous studies on household waste management often considered socio-economic aspects and overlooked the environmental and behavioral factors influencing the disposal practices and health status. This study adopted four constructs, defensive attitude, environmental knowledge, environmental quality, and waste disposal, by employing a structural equation modeling approach to explore research objectives. Data from 849 households of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan was collected by using a multi-stage sampling technique. The structural model results showed that the two constructs, environmental knowledge and defensive behavior, positively affect household health status. The most significant health-related considerations are waste disposal and environmental quality, both of which negatively impact health status and do not support our hypothesis. The results provide valuable perspectives to enable households to engage actively in waste management activities. The findings indicate that understanding the intentions of household health status drivers can assist policymakers and agencies in promoting an efficient and successful community programmes related to sustainable solid waste management by allowing them to foster how the desired behavior can be achieved.

1. Introduction

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is an important economic and environmental issue around the globe. MSW management is already a critical concern for municipal authorities, especially in emerging economies, due to the exponential increase in waste generation parallel with population growth, increasing living standards, urbanization, and rapid development [ 1 , 2 ]. In parallel, MSW management authorities lack infrastructure and the capacity to safely collect and dispose of waste to meet the growing demand. Rural-to-urban migration in emerging economies has resulted in unplanned urban settlements, which put tremendous pressure on municipality authorities. As a result, coping with household solid waste has become a big stumbling block for urban growth. Nevertheless, there is a gap between the demand and supply of these services in terms of quality and efficiency [ 3 , 4 ].

The MSW problem has become an important challenge to sustainable development in developing countries [ 5 ]. The lack of resources coupled with municipalities’ weak institutional capacity to comply with existing solid waste management structure, insufficient facilities for collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, limited technical competence and low level of public knowledge have made solid waste management difficult for local authorities [ 3 , 6 ]. Improper waste management leads to waste spreading along the roadsides, drainage, and haphazard dumping, all of which pose a serious risk to the environment and health [ 7 ] and urban flooding and waterlogging [ 8 ].

Open dumping and waste burning have been related to major public health hazards and contamination sources, resulting in the release of harmful dioxins and other toxic substances. At very low doses, these compounds cause a surprising range of harmful effects in humans. Adaptation of defensive behavior is a cognitive process of individuals, including people’s value and belief systems, attitudes and perceptions, personalities, motivations, aspirations, and community, to reduce the negative effects of excessive waste disposal. These cognitive factors drive household decisions about the hazardous impact of waste on human health and the environment and the essence of their reaction to negative impacts have prompted environmental psychologists to pay more attention to psychological aspects of climate change adaptation [ 9 , 10 ].

Pakistan’s population has been rising at a rate of 2.4% per year since 1998, reaching a peak of 207.7 million in 2017, which corresponds to the sixth most populous country. Islamabad is the capital and tenth-largest city with a 1.019 million population and Rawalpindi is the 4th largest city with 2.09 million inhabitants [ 11 ]. The average waste generation rate varies from 1.896 kg/house/day to 4.29 kg/house/day. Although the waste collection system is inadequate, the average waste collection rate in Pakistan’s public sector is 50% [ 12 ]. Open dumping is the most common practice, and dumping sites are often set on fire to reduce the amount of waste that accumulates, which has adverse effects on health and the environment. Public health and societal life are affected by health hazards, pest proliferation, and the spread of diseases. Municipalities fail to manage solid waste due to financial constraints and the careless behavior of the inhabitants. Solid waste has negative impacts on the environment, including air, soil, water contamination, climate change, and devastating effects on the flora and fauna [ 13 , 14 ].

The contribution of this study covers three aspects. First, to the authors’ knowledge, there was no inclusive research in Pakistan on household environmental and defensive behaviors in relation to waste disposal and studies that have generally investigated household’s defensive behaviors have been limited in Pakistan [ 15 ], although there has been some work on the environmental quality and adaptation for the poor sewage system in Pakistan [ 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 ]. Second, the study is of great worth in monitoring, controlling and humanizing local peoples’ waste management behavior. Specifically, the current study analyzes the impact of different socio-psychological variables (environmental quality, environmental knowledge, and defensive behavior) on health status that has received little attention. Accordingly, this study focused on the metropolitan area of Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Pakistan in order to gain a better understanding of the social economic and environmental factors that influence health. Third, our study also provides viable policy options for mitigating the health hazards of waste pollution and poor environmental quality within the Asian region since we share a common culture, so question is therefore also relevant to other countries in the Asian region.

2. Theoretical Model

Inter-relationships between constructs.

The need for environmental conservation in society has gradually increased. Human activities and anthropogenic impacts have a substantial adverse environmental effect [ 19 , 20 ]. In this regard households have different solid waste management preferences. In general, individuals make their choices based on the assumptions of rationality and self-interest.

Several studies have examined the role of key socio-economic and demographic variables such as age [ 21 ], income, educational attainment [ 22 ] and health status. Waste is the product of human and economic activity, and it is determined by person, ecosystem, and community behavior. Solid waste is a significant environmental problem that jeopardizes long-term environmental sustainability [ 23 ]. Therefore, the following hypotheses are put forth based on theoretical framework (see Figure 1 ):

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Object name is ijerph-18-04193-g001.jpg

Structural model of the hypotheses

Waste disposal is positively and significantly associated with health status.

The researchers have made significant efforts to relate improper solid waste management to health issues such as respiratory disorders, vector disease, aesthetic damage, drain blockage, water and soil contamination [ 2 , 24 ]. Environmental deterioration through waste pollution, air and water quality contribute significantly to the proliferation of diseases [ 25 , 26 ]. The consumption and waste disposal habits of households have a direct effect on the environment [ 27 , 28 , 29 ].

Environmental quality is positively and significantly associated with health status.

The social and consumption behavior of households are imperative factors that contribute to waste generation and disposal. The social and consumption behavior of households depends on environmental knowledge. As a result, environmental awareness leads to defensive behavior, which is needed to avoid the harmful effects of solid waste [ 30 , 31 ]. As a result, households are encouraged to participate in hygiene waste management programs to reduce the negative impact on public health and the environment. Therefore, health and environment should be understood as two essential inseparable development aspects that cannot be sustained as though they operate in a vacuum [ 32 , 33 ].

Defensive behavior is positively and significantly associated with health status.

Household defensive behavior is motivated by awareness of potentially harmful effects, as well as time and resources. Previous research [ 34 , 35 , 36 ] looked at several incidents in various parts of the world. According to these reports, households that have been exposed to certain catastrophe circumstances are more risk-averse. Individuals who are aware of then issue are more likely to respond and engage in risk-reduction practices. Based on the above literature, we develop the following hypotheses.

Environmental knowledge is positively and significantly associated with health status.

3. Research Methods

3.1. data collection.

To achieve the study’s objectives, data on household waste management practices environmental quality, environmental knowledge, defensive behavior and health status were gathered from 849 respondents. For selecting the sample size and study area, several factors have been taken into consideration such as the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of selected households for survey. A “multi-stage systematic technique” was used to choose the study area and household sample size.

So far, Pakistan does not have an institutional review board or national ethical guidelines for social science studies. Therefore, the study adhered to existing research ethics principles such as obtaining verbal consent to participate in research, safeguarding personal data, informal privacy, and allowing participants to withdraw their consent if they so wished at any point. In addition, no personal information was used in this analysis. Participants, who provided information related to solid waste generation and related information, were used in this research.

A questionnaire has been finalized after conducting pre-testing in the field. Pre-testing helped us to construct a better contextualize and revised questionnaire. A five-point Likert scale 1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = neutrality; 4 = agree; 5 = strongly agree, was used to evaluate each question in the questionnaire. We have designed six questions to measure households’ waste disposal behavior, five questions for environmental quality, six questions on environmental knowledge, six questions on defensive behavior. Finally, we have designed four questions related to household health. Precise questions are shown in Table 1 . Primarily data was input into the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software (IBM, Armank, NY, USA) to generate descriptive statistics and their frequency and correlation test. Finally, we conducted a structural equation analysis through Analysis of Moment Structures (AMOS 20). Social-economic information of respondents is given in Appendix A (see Table A1 ).

Statements and scales used for the four constructs.

3.2. Measurement Model (MM)

In this analysis, the structural equation modeling (SEM) method is used to evaluate the data using latent constructs in this study. To test our model, we used the Anderson and Gerbing’s [ 35 ] two-step approach. The first step was to establish a satisfactory measurement model (MM) using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The MM included latent constructs for environmental awareness, environmental quality, waste disposal, safety, and health status. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to determine the reliability of constructs. In additional, convergent and discriminant validity is used to evaluate construct validity. The magnitude, direction, and statistical significance of each latent construct’s standardized factor loadings were checked for convergent validity. Additionally, using the average variance extracted (AVE) and the building reliability, convergent validity was investigated. A MM is valid when a minimum AVE level is higher than 0.5, and when the minimum value of CR is higher than 0.7 [ 36 ].

Maximum likelihood estimation in structural equation modeling assumes multivariate normality. We looked at the univariate distributions for each component because assessing all aspects of multivariate normality is difficult. This method can be used to determine multivariate normality [ 37 ]. Multivariate collinearity was calculated by running multiple regressions, each with a different item as the dependent variable and the rest of the items as the independent variables, and then analyzing the tolerance and variance inflation factor (VIF) for each regression [ 37 ]. We measured each statement’s communality extraction to check the reliability and validity of each construct scores above 0.5., which showed that each factor is independent [ 37 , 38 ].

After we attained a rational measurement model, the structure model was calculated to test the health status hypotheses. Structural modeling is used to predict relationships between households’ cognitions constructs (environmental knowledge, environmental quality, waste disposal, defensive behavior) and their health status. The SM is shown in Figure 2 .

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Object name is ijerph-18-04193-g002.jpg

Structural equations modeling and path coefficients between variables.

The first step is to test the reliability test of survey data. There are two generic measures for reliability: Cronbach’s α and composite reliability [ 39 ]. The Cronbach’s α value is used to check the reliability of the data. Data is consistent when Cronbach’s α lies between 0.60 and 0.70; the data set used in analysis is highly reliable when the value is between 0.70 and 0.80 and cut off scores for composite reliability is between 0.6 and 0.7 [ 40 ]. SPSS 23.0 was used to check the internal reliability of five constructs (environmental knowledge, environmental quality, waste disposal, defensive behavior and health status). The results of Cronbach’s α values for five latent variables; waste disposal, defensive behavior environmental knowledge, environmental quality, and health status is 0.92, 0.92, 0.89, 0.93, and 0.85 respectively revealed good internal consistency.

A confirmatory factor analysis was applied to check the properties of the measurement scale [ 41 ]. The conventional rules of thumb [ 37 ] are followed for goodness-of-fit indices of the confirmatory factor analysis. Reliability tests try to find the stability and consistency of measuring instruments. Confirmatory factor analysis shows goodness-of-fit and specific indices for the empirical data such as chi-square standardized by degrees of freedom (λ/df) is shown in Table 2 . It should be less than five [ 42 ], in our study it is 3.71. The NFI, and CFI should exceed 0.9 and RMSEA should be less than 0.10 [ 43 ]. Here, goodness of fits was as follows; NFI = 0.931, CFI = 0.948, and RMSEA = 0.057. Thus, results showed that the model could be accepted for empirical analysis with good convergent indices and goodness of fit [ 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 ]. Results of correlation test are given in Appendix A (please see Table A2 ).

Reliability and validity test.

χ 2 test statistics/df; CFI (comparative fit index); NFI (normed fit index); RMSEA (root mean square error of approximation).

5. Discussion

Results show that SEM is an appropriate methodology for explaining the behavior of the metropolitan Islamabad-Rawalpindi area towards waste management. The configuration of the MM and SM was appropriate. In four-specified MM, the latent constructs waste disposal, environmental quality, environmental knowledge, defensive behavior was reliably described by the measurable items. All the standard coefficients of estimated SEM revealed that path analysis ( Figure 2 ) specified the relationships’ strength among all variables. Standard coefficients depict that all the observed indicators have values around 0.5 and are strongly related to their associated constructs [ 38 ]. Regarding direct and indirect effects, subsequent explanations are made.

The SM results showed that two constructs—environmental knowledge and defensive behavior—positively affect the household health status. Environmental knowledge positively influences the health status (0.30) and defensive behavior (0.01) of households at 0.5 [ 37 ]. Low-carbon consumption and environmental behavior is linked with environmental knowledge [ 45 , 46 ]. Individuals with a dearth of knowledge are more likely to harm the environment. Household’s defensive behavior has a direct positive effect on health status (0.14) and our hypothesis is confirmed. Hence, the findings show that households who are well aware of health and environmental risks are more involved in defensive practices.

The standardized coefficient of environmental quality on defensive behavior and household health status is statistically significant and has a negative impact. Environmental quality has a direct impact on health status [ 46 ] and an indirect impact on the defensive practices of households. This implies that the households who are putting efforts to adopt a green environment are less intent on adopting defensive behavior and vice versa. The most important factor related to health risk is waste disposal, which negatively affected health status and does not support our hypothesis. The findings indicate that inadequate waste management has serious effects on household health and results are consistent with the existing literature [ 14 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 ]. Moreover, waste disposal has a positive indirect impact on household defensive behavior, indicating an increase in improper waste disposal, leading to improved household defensive practices.

Estimated results are shown in Table 3 . The standardized path coefficients of the households’ environmental knowledge and defensive behavior are 0.202 ( p < 0.01) and 0.094 ( p < 0.01) respectively. The impact of environmental knowledge and defensive practices on health is statistically significant at 1% confidence level. Results shows that direct effects of environmental knowledge and defensive practices on health are supported to our hypothesis. Our results are consistent with existing studies. Moreover, the environmental knowledge has largest effect (0.202) on household’s health status accompanied by defensive behavior.

Results of the structural model (SM).

Note: ***, **, significant at, 1%, and 5%.

While the impact of environmental quality is statistically significant −0.049 ( p < 0.01), results shows that environmental quality has detrimental effects on household health status. The standardized path coefficients of waste disposal is statistically significant −0.273 ( p < 0.01). Water, air, food and rats dwelling pollution through flies’ sources of several diseases in humans as plague, salmonellosis, trichinosis, endemic typhus dysentery, diarrhea and amoebic dysentery [ 46 , 47 , 48 , 49 , 50 ].

6. Conclusions and Policy Implications

We estimated an SM to test the hypotheses after we obtained a valid MM. Table 3 presents the results for the SM. The regression coefficient of waste disposal and environmental quality on health was negative and significant, suggesting the rejection of hypotheses H1, and H2. Waste disposal has a positive indirect effect on the defensive behavior of households, suggesting that a rise in excessive waste disposal leads to shift in defensive behavior, and environmental quality has a direct effect on health and an indirect impact on household standard precautions. The positive and significant regression coefficient of defensive behavior and environmental knowledge on health supports hypotheses H3 and H4.

The results of this study offer useful perspectives for policymakers. In the present case study, this could be related to the government’s solid waste management strategy. Government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) could participate to encourage households to segregate of waste at first source and propagate the benefits of a healthy environment. While environmental knowledge is an important factor regarding waste segregation and disposal it is recommended that government agencies and other associations tackle solid waste management by providing detailed information regarding different scenarios of waste disposal and segregation, and different households recycling forecasts at local and national levels. They should also provide details about the dangerous effects of illegal solid waste disposal on safety and the environment. In other words, the focus should be on shaping a proper system for collecting and disposing of waste. Accuracy and timelines of information are therefore important.


We are humbly grateful to Muhammad Haseeb Raza for his assistance in conceptual framework, data analysis of this research and for their comments on an earlier versions of the manuscript.

The data distribution of households for each socio-economic and demographic characteristic are presented in Table A1 . Demographic statements that were incorporated in the survey included gender, age, education and income. A majority of (64.8%) of respondents in the sample are males and 35.2% are females. A substantial portion (37%) of households belongs to the early middle age group (21–30). The education level of households was low as follows: 23.9% of households were illiterate, 6.7% of households attended secondary school, 25.7% went to high school and just 21.7% of households had entered university. Regarding income, 21% of households claimed their monthly family income was less than 30.000 thousand rupees and 24% of respondents reported to being in the high income group.

Social-economic information of respondents.

Source: [ 14 ].

Correlations of the constructs.

Note: *, **, significant at 1% and 5% and squared correlations in parentheses.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, T.A.; Data curation, T.A.; Formal analysis, T.A.; Methodology, T.A.; Project administration, F.J.; Resources, F.J.; Supervision, F.J. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

This research does not receive any funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

So far, Pakistan does not have an institutional review board or national ethical guidelines for Economics studies. The study therefore adhered to existing research ethics principles such as obtaining verbal consent to participate in research, retaining personal informal privacy, and allowing participants to withdraw their consent if they so wished at any point. In addition, no personal information was used in this analysis.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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  • Mohd Hafiidz Jaafar 2 &
  • Hasmah Abdullah 1 , 4  

BMC Public Health volume  22 , Article number:  1 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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Poor waste disposal practices hamper the progress towards an integrated solid waste management in households. Knowledge of current practices and perception of household solid waste management is necessary for accurate decision making in the move towards a more sustainable approach. This study investigates the household waste practices and perceptions about waste management in Panji, one of the sub-districts in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia.

A stratified random sampling technique using a cross-sectional survey questionnaire was used to collect data. A total of 338 households were interviewed in the survey and data were analyzed using SPSS. Chi-square goodness of fit test was used to determine the relationships between categorical variables, whereas Chi-square bivariate correlation test was performed to observe the correlation between the perceptions of waste segregation with socio-demographic background of the respondents. The correlation between perception of respondents with the locality, house type and waste type were also conducted. Principal component analysis was used to identify grouping of variables and to establish which factors were interrelated in any given construct.

The results of the study revealed that 74.3 % of households disposed of food debris as waste and 18.3% disposed of plastic materials as waste. The study also showed that 50.3% of the households segregate their waste while 49.7% did not. About 95.9% of the respondents were aware that improper waste management leads to disease; such as diarrhea and malaria. There were associations between locality, age and house type with waste segregation practices among respondents (Chi-square test, p<0.05). Associations were also found between locality with the perception of improper waste management which lead to disease (Chi-square test, p<0.05). Principal Component Analysis showed that 17.94% of the variance has high positive loading (positive relationship) with age, marital status and, type of house.

This study highlights the importance to design waste separation programs that suit the needs of targeted population as a boost towards sustainable solid waste management practices.

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Solid waste management (SWM) in the majority of developing countries including Malaysia is dominated by open dumping due to lower capital, operational and maintenance cost in comparison with another disposal method [ 47 ]. This non-sanitary and non-engineered approach are without appropriate liners, gas collection and leachate collection and treatment, thereby exposing the surrounding environment with multiple air, water and soil pollution issues [ 15 , 23 ]. The effects of the ineffective management of household solid waste on public health (Fig. 1 ) can be separated into physical, biological, non-communicable diseases, psychosocial and ergonomics health risks [ 6 , 51 , 77 ]. Contaminated soil, air and water provide breeding ground to biological vectors such as flies, rodents and insects pests. Many diseases are sequentially caused by these biological vectors, such as diarrhoea, dysentery, gastrointestinal problems, worm infection, food poisoning, dengue fever, cholera, leptospirosis and bacterial infection; irritation of the skin, nose and eyes; as well as respiratory symptoms [ 25 , 41 , 42 , 52 ]. Exposure to gases generated by landfill waste such as methane, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide can produce inflammation and bronchoconstriction and can affect the immune cell. Hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride released from the waste if deposited in the respiratory system, may cause cough, chest tightness and breathlessness [ 21 ].

figure 1

Effect of ineffective household solid waste management on public health

Another category of health effects that can be closely related to household solid waste management is non-communicable diseases. Some studies estimated that the pollutions from the dumpsite might cause cancers (e.g. liver, pancreas, kidney, larynx) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma [ 8 , 31 , 51 ]. Other health effects under this category worth mentioning are birth defects, preterm babies, congenital disorders and Down’s syndrome [ 51 , 52 ]. Apart from physical and biological effects, inefficient household waste management can lead to psychosocial effects such as disturbing odour, unsightly waste, and thinking, cognitive and stress-related problems [ 6 , 51 , 52 , 74 , 77 ]. Ergonomics is the final category of related health effects that is worth mentioning specifically for the working community of household waste management (Fig. 1 ). The risk of ergonomic issues is related to body posture, repetitive movement and excessive force movement [ 6 ].

Majority of the solid waste generated in Malaysia composed of organic waste with high moisture content [ 43 ], hence, the handling and waste separation at source is the most critical step in waste management [ 62 ]. The increasing amount of waste generated annually is also intensified by lack of land for disposing waste, questioning the sustainability of the current municipal solid waste (MSW) practices of using landfills [ 46 ]. Nevertheless, the lack of success in public participation to manage the solid waste is primarily rooted by the NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude and the public perception that solid waste is a local municipal problem is highly prevalent among Malaysians [ 3 ]. Thus, most of the existing waste segregation practices by waste-pickers are mostly done in the informal sector as means of livelihood for the poor and additional source of income. On the other hand, this practice causes serious health problems, aggravating the socio-economic situation [ 10 ].

In Kelantan, the common practice of waste disposal in rural and remote areas is by burying and burning of waste (Kamaruddin et al. 2016) while in urban or semi-urban areas, stationary waste storage containers are provided mainly at the sides of the main road. Kota Bharu Municipal Council (KBMC) is the local authority responsible in providing stationary waste storage container at collection site of waste within Kota Bharu district, collecting the solid waste approximately 3 times a week by compactor vehicles and transporting waste to the dumpsite located in Beris Lalang, Bachok [ 27 ]. However, the flaws of SWM in Kelantan lies primarily in inadequate bin and waste collection provided by local authorities, KBMC mainly constrained by financial issues (Rahim et al 2012). House to house waste collection is also hard to be implemented owing to narrow lanes and alleys which are mostly inaccessible [ 61 ] due to the development practice and geographical area in the state. Therefore, the locals’ resort to burying and burning their wastes within their house compound which has always been the practice since decades ago.

Household waste is one of the primary sources of MSW comprising of food wastes, paper, plastic, rags, metal and glasses from residential areas. Household waste is among the solid wastes managed by KBMC in Kota Bharu covering 15 sub-districts including Panji. Panji has the highest population compared to the other sub-district; therefore, assessment of household SWM among the residents is important to address their awareness and practices for planning an effective form of SWM. Some of the key factors influencing the effectiveness of SWM is by considering the size of the family, their income [ 67 ], level of education [ 19 ] and the location of household [ 1 ]. This factor is also supported by Shigeru [ 66 ] that the characteristics of households determine their recycling behavior and that sociodemographic conditions vary across municipalities. Socio-economic status and housing characteristics also affect the amount of municipal waste and how they manage it [ 20 ]. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the characteristics and needs of various households in designing a suitable waste management program.

Efficient SWM system is now a global concern which requires a sustainable SWM primarily in the developing countries. This study is another effort in gearing towards sustainable waste management practices in Malaysia which is also in line with the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals encompassing SDG3 Good Health and Wellbeing and SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production. So far, limited studies were reported in the East Coast of Malaysia, particularly in Kelantan on waste management practices at the household level [ 61 ] which is highly required to improve the current practices including finding the prospect of whether proper at source-sorting in households is feasible to be implemented. This study provides a case study in Panji, Kota Bharu concerning the current household characteristics and awareness of managing household solid waste in Kelantan. The findings are crucial for the waste authorities in the process of designing and providing an effective and specific action plan in the area.

Figure 2 shows the percentage of households by garbage collection facilities and median monthly household income (MYR) for the districts in Kelantan. Kota Bharu is the district with the highest median monthly household gross income and percentage of garbage collection facilities. Apart from Lojing, which is located in the highlands, Bachok, Tumpat and Pasir Puteh are the districts with the lowest percentage of garbage collection facilities within 100m of the households. Meanwhile, Bachok (34.9%), Pasir Mas (36.6%), and Pasir Puteh (38%) households are without garbage collection facilities. The figure described the problem with household solid waste management in Kelantan. The major issues contributing to the problem are due to insufficient financial resources, lack of human labor, and transportation [ 61 ]. In one of the rural area in Kelantan, it was found that the solid waste management is considered inefficient due to a lack of knowledge in proper waste handling and the importance of segregating waste properly as proper waste handling start at home (Abas et al. 2020).

figure 2

Percentage of households by garbage collection facilities and median monthly household income (MYR) for the districts in Kelantan

Household SWM is not a new issue, thus, published studies were found using survey and questionnaires and fieldwork studies. Waste characterization process was carried out by Kamaruddin et al. (2016) in 4 landfills in Kelantan. Nevertheless, they did not cover household waste knowledge, attitude and practices. Abdullah et al. [ 1 ] surveyed the household’s awareness on privatization of solid waste management and their satisfaction of the services offered but did not cover the health implications. Saat et al. [ 61 ] surveyed the practices and attitude on household waste management with a small sample size of less than 30 which limits its applicability to other region. Our study aimed to improve these previous studies by covering a wider sample size from the largest sub-district in Kelantan, Malaysia. The objective of this study is to assess the household SWM practices and perceptions among the residents of Panji vicinity in Kota Bharu district, Kelantan. Specifically, the objectives are to assess household SWM practices and perceptions in the Panji sub-district, to determine the association between socio-demographic characteristics or other factors and practices in SWM at the household level and to determine the association between socio-demographic characteristics or other factors and perceptions in SWM at household level.

This study was conducted in Panji, Kota Bharu district, Kelantan, Malaysia (Fig. 3 ), located at the east cost of Peninsular Malaysia and has the highest population among the 15 sub-districts of Kota Bharu, the capital state of Kelantan. A total of 338 respondents were recruited in this study. The population of interest in this study involved residents in Kota Bharu district and considered only residents who have attained 18 years old and above. Sample unit is residents living in Kota Bharu district of more than a year and aged more than 18 years. The target population comprised all the households in Kota Bharu District (491,237); however, it is impossible to conduct a study with such a large number within a limited time period and inadequate financial budget. Therefore, a multi- stage random sampling technique was used in selecting the appropriate sample in order to evaluate the objectives of this study and to ensure that households in the districts had the same possibility of being included in the study (Dlamini et al., 2017). Initially, one district of Kelantan state (Kota Bharu) was selected out of 10 total districts. In the second stage, one sub-district of Kota Bharu District (Panji) was selected out of 15 total sub-districts. Eventually, 338 households were randomly selected as sample size. Convenient sampling was also used to select respondents due to time constraint and response obtained from target population. The localities involved were Kampung Tapang, Kampung Chempaka, Kampung Belukar, Kampung Panji, Taman Sri Iman, Taman Desa Kujid and Taman Bendahara.

figure 3

Location of the study area in Panji, Kota Bharu district, Kelantan, Malaysia (Source:ArcGis Software version 10.2; source of shape file: Department of Drainage and Irrigation, obtained with consent)

Data collection

A survey was conducted from January to May 2018. The questionnaire was translated from English to Malay language and the translation was done back to back and validated by experts in environmental science and public health field. A pilot test was conducted with a small sample size of ~30 to determine the suitability of the items in the questionnaire and the time taken by respondents to complete the questionnaires (Dlamini et al. 2017). Respondents were interviewed based on a questionnaire adopted and modified from Asante et al. [ 9 ]. The questionnaire involved two phases; the first one was to determine the socio-demographic of the respondents, including gender, age, types of housing, religion, educational level, occupation and the number of occupants in the household. Part two was an assessment to determine the status of household management of solid waste. The questionnaire included both open and closed questions (Dlamini et al. 2017). The closed questions were designed for ease of answering by the respondents with the aim of collecting the maximum appropriate responses, whereas the open questions are intended to encourage respondents to provide further elaboration on certain questions. The reliability of Cronbach’s alpha test of this questionnaire was found to be acceptable (α=0.71). Ethical approval for this study was obtained from the Ethic Committee of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM/JEPeM/17100560).

Data analysis

Data were analyzed using IBM Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 24.0. Descriptive analyses were used to report the frequency and percentage of socio-demographic patterns, method of household waste disposal and perceptions of household toward waste management. Chi-square goodness of fit test was used to determine the relationships between categorical variables, which allow us to test whether the observed proportions for a categorical variable differ from the hypothesized proportions [ 24 ]. The null hypothesis of the Chi-Square test is that no relationship exists on the categorical variables in the population; they are independent. Chi-square bivariate correlation test was performed to observe the correlation between the perceptions of waste segregation with socio-demographic background of the respondents [ 29 ]. The correlation between perception of respondents with the locality, house type and waste type were also conducted. Principal component analysis (PCA) was conducted to identify grouping of variables and to establish which factors were interrelated in any given construct, where a set of highly inter-correlated measured variables were grouped into distinct factors [ 24 ]. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkim (KMO) Measure of Sampling Adequacy and Bartlett's Test of Sphericity was performed to evaluate the data's suitability for exploratory factor analysis [ 69 ].

Socio-demographic Characteristics and Respondents Background in Panji sub-district

We first report descriptive statistics for all variables before discussing results from correlation analysis of socio-demographic factors and respondent’s background with household solid waste management (SWM) practices and perceptions. We then present the Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Table 1 represents the socio-demographic background and characteristics of the respondents in this study. Most of the respondents are from Kg. Belukar (N=125, 37%), followed by Kg. Panji (N=61, 18%), the rest are from Kg. Tapang (N=33), Kg. Chempaka, Taman Desa Kujid, Taman Sri Iman (N=30, respectively) and from Taman Bendahara (N=29). Majority of the respondents are female (N=182, 53.8%) and age between 35 to 49 years old (N=91, 26.9%). Most of the respondents have completed secondary education (N=194, 57.4%) and 31.1% have completed their degree or diploma (N=105). Majority of the respondents are married (75.7%), Muslim (97%) and earned between MYR 1000 to 2000 per month. About 32% of the respondents are self-employed and lived in a bungalow house type (30.5%). Most of the household consist of 4 to 6 occupants (53.6%). Majority of them cook at home (91.4%) on daily basis (68.6%). The Chi-square test shows that there is a significant difference among all categorical variables except for gender (χ 2 = 2.000, p = 0.157).

Proportion of Household Solid Waste Disposed by respondents in Panji Sub-District

Figure 4 represents the type of waste disposed of by respondents in the study. More than half (74.38%) of the waste disposed by household is food debris, followed by plastic waste (19.01%) and bottles (5.79%) while the rest accounts for 0.83%.

figure 4

Types of waste disposed by household in Panji district

Household SWM practices and perceptions among respondents in Panji sub-district

Table 2 shows the household waste management practices and perceptions among respondents in Panji district. In terms of the household SWM practices, about 170 of the respondents (50.3%) segregate their waste at home while the remaining 168 respondents (49.7%) did not practice waste segregation at home. There is no significant difference between those who segregate waste at home and those who don’t (χ 2 =0.12, p=0.91). As shown in Fig. 1 and Table 2 , the major type of waste disposed by respondents are food (N=251, 74.3%). A significant difference was found among the different type of waste disposed (χ 2 =656.56, p<0.001). Out of the 338 respondents interviewed, 75.4% of the respondent themselves normally carries their household waste to the allocated bin or waste collection point provided by the local authority. Majority of the respondents (323 respondents) agree that the waste disposal site provided by the local authorities were appropriate (95.6%) relative to 15 respondents who disagree (4.4%). A significant difference was found between those who responded that appropriate waste disposal site was provided and those who do not (χ2=280.66, p<0.001).

Most of them also have the perception that proper waste management is important (99.7%). More than half (62.4%) of the respondent agrees that it is their responsibility to clean the waste in their residential area while 24.3% suggested that it is the responsibility of the district council. Another 3.3% suggested it is the responsibility of the community members followed by private waste operators (1.5%). The majority (95.9%) of the respondents suggested poor waste management can contribute to disease occurrence, whereas 2.7% suggested it does not cause diseases and another 1.5% were unsure if it causes any diseases.

In terms of the household SWM perceptions, 40.8% of the respondents have responded that other diseases than diarrhea, malaria and typhoid are related to improper waste management. This is followed by diarrhea (30.5%) and malaria (21.9%). Majority of the participants responded that they have awareness on proper waste management (92.9%) and 81.4% responded that cleanliness is the main factor which motivates them to dispose the waste properly. The chi-square test shows that all variables under respondents’ perception differ significantly from the hypothesized values (Table 2 ).

Relationship between socio-demographic characteristics, respondent’s background and household SWM practices (waste segregation practices)

Chi square analysis was performed to find out what factors contribute to waste segregation practices among the respondents (Table 3 ). Results indicate that waste segregation practice was correlated with the locality (χ 2 = 43.35, p<0.001). For instance, out of 29 respondents in Taman Bendahara, all of them segregate their waste (100%). This trend was also observed for Taman Desa Kujid where most of the respondents segregate their waste (22 out of 30, 73.3%). In contrast, most of respondents from the village, did not segregate their waste. For example, out of 125 total number of respondents in Kg Belukar, 53 of them segregates their waste (42.4%) while 72 of them did not (57.6%).

A significant correlation was found between waste segregation practice and age (χ 2 =11.62, p<0.001). Based on the age range of the total number of respondents, respondents at the age of 50-65 years old are those who segregated more than the rest (N=43) and those at the age of 35-49 are those who did not segregate their waste the most (N=52 in Table 3 ). The type of house was significantly correlated with waste segregation practice (χ 2 =12.73, p=0.03). The respondents who live in bungalow houses are those who segregate the most (N=58). Those who live in semi-detached houses also have more respondents (N=24) segregating their waste than those who did not (N=13). Meanwhile those who live in other type of houses, terrace, village and others have more respondents who did not segregate their waste (Table 3 ). Other variables, gender, education level, marital status, monthly income, occupation, the number of persons per household and the practice of cooking at home did not show any significant correlation with waste segregation practice (p>0.05, Table 3 ).

Relationship between respondent’s background and household SWM practices (the type of waste disposed) from the household in Panji sub-district

The chi-square test was also conducted to determine the relationship between socio-demographic characteristics, respondent’s background and the type of waste disposed. There is a significant correlation between locality with the waste type disposed in Panji district (Table 4 ). All localities showed that food waste was the major type of waste being disposed of from the households. A significant correlation was also found between respondents living in different house types with type of waste disposed. Most of the respondents who live in bungalows (N = 81) and other type of house (N = 78) disposed of food as the main waste from their households. Other characteristics were not significantly correlated with type of waste.

Correlation between respondents’ background (locality and/ or house type) and the perception in household SWM (appropriate site of household waste disposal provided by the local council and improper waste management contribute to disease occurrence)

Correlation analysis was also performed to determine what factors contribute towards the perception of household SWM in Panji district. No significant correlation was found between different locality with the appropriate waste disposal site provided (p = 0.152) as most of the locality has an appropriate disposal site (Table 5 ). There was also no significant relationship between type of house with appropriate disposal site provided by the local council (p=0.131). On the other hand, significant correlation was found between locality and the respondent’s perceptions on improper waste management which contribute to disease occurrence (p=0.042). Out of all localities, majority of the respondents from Kg Belukar has the perception that improper waste management contributes to disease occurrence (Table 5 ).

Principal component analysis (PCA)

Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is a dimension-reduction tool that can be used to reduce a large set of variables to a small set that still contains most of the information in the original large set [ 24 ]. It converts a set of observations of possibly correlated variables (entities each of which takes on various numerical values) into a set of values of linearly uncorrelated variables called principal components [ 37 ]. This transformation is defined in such a way that the first principal component has the largest possible variance (that is, accounts for as much of the variability in the data as possible), and each succeeding component in turn has the highest variance possible under the constraint that it is orthogonal to the preceding components.

PCA in this study was performed to determine the variables that influence or related to waste segregation behavior among respondents. Table 6 highlight the PCA analysis to illustrate the component factors that influence waste segregation behavior among respondents in this study. Only 13 significant variables were highlighted in the table with the factor loading of more than 0.5. Only factor loadings value >0.5 are considered for selection and interpretation due to having significant factor loadings influence the acceptable KMO value that represent a significant correlation for the PCA model in the study. The PCA generates four principal components that represent 48.26% of the total variance in the variables dataset and produced an acceptable KMO value of 0.603 (more than 0.5). Bartlett’s test of sphericity showed that PCA could be applied to the data at the p< 0.001 level. This approved that the data met the requirements for factor analysis [ 24 , 69 ].

The component matrix produced in PCA showed that PC1 represents 17.94% of the variance with high positive loading (positive relationship) on age, marital status and, type of house (Table 6 ). This pattern indicates that age, married and type of house were the group that segregates their waste the most. This group of community can be proposed as the target to actively participate in waste management practices within the district. In contrast, locality and education have negative loading or negative relationship with the segregation activity. As a result, policy makers should increase educational activities on proper household waste practices and management related issues to minimize both the environmental and health impacts of household waste practices among the population.

PC2 represents 10.93% of the variance with high loadings on cooking at home and cooking frequency. This pattern implies that those who cook at home and frequently cook were among the most respondents who practice waste segregation. However, no consequences can be drawn about individual factors as these may have the opposite relationship to the observed factor in other components. Similar trend was observed for PC3 whereby 9.96% of the data variance has high loading on the perception of the respondents towards waste management. High loading was observed on perception that improper waste management contributes to disease occurrence and the cleanliness is the main element that motivates them to segregate. PC3 has high negative loading with monthly income. This result suggests that respondents with low income are those who segregate more.

Meanwhile, PC4 represents 9.42% of the data variance. Variables that have high positive loadings were the respondents who brought the waste to the communal bin themselves, indicating that this group of respondents are those who segregate more. High positive loading was also found on the perception that residents are among those responsible for cleaning the residential area. The number of persons living in a household has negative loading in PC4, indicating that the higher the number of people lives in the household, the lesser chances of them to segregate the waste.

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.

a 4 components extracted.

b Only cases for which Practice of waste segregation = Yes are used in the analysis phase.

This study explores the behavioral perspective in view that the way people manage waste is associated with their attitude and perception. Individual perception is governed by their background and present situation, shaped by values, moods, socials circumstances and individual expectation (Kaoje et al 2017). The results of this study are discussed from three aspects: (1) characterization of household solid waste management practices and perceptions among respondents (2) correlation between socioeconomic and respondent’s background with waste segregation practices and (3) correlation between socioeconomic and respondent’s background with household waste management perceptions. One of the primary intentions of acquiring the respondent’s characteristics was to understand the correlation between level of involvement in household SWM practices and the characteristics of the respondents.

Food waste was found as the major type of waste disposed by the communities in Panji sub-district (Fig. 1 and Table 2 ). Food waste has high moisture content and causes smell, which subsequently attracts disease vectors, such as flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches, and the proliferation of rodents, such as rats and mice, which pose threats to public health [ 68 , 75 ]. Majority of the respondents were found to cook at home (N=309, 91.4%) and cook on a daily basis (N=232, 68.6%; Table 1 ) which suggests that composting should be incorporated as one of the main approaches for proper waste management practices in the community. Individual compost bin should be provided in each household coupled with adequate training on simple compost technique can be organized within the locality as a stage by stage process. Alternatively, community scale composting can be proposed to focus solely on food waste management which is currently a growing practice among Malaysians [ 38 , 56 ]. This approach is gaining attention because of their lower energy footprint, ease of operation, need for lesser resources, lower operation and maintenance costs which have higher chances of public acceptance [ 32 ]. Food waste is organic waste which can decomposed and degraded into organic matter [ 33 ], which in turn can be used by the public to fertilize their garden soil. Most importantly, the training should emphasize on the practicality and feasible option of composting which is otherwise seen as a time-consuming and burdensome process [ 33 ].

Composting is beneficial to the environment by reducing greenhouse gases emissions and improvement of soil quality when applied to land. Furthermore, it is also in line with the circular economy concept by closing the loop of the system [ 14 ]. On the other hand, there are issues pertaining to its quality such as the nutrient and trace metal content. So, sorting the waste at source play a crucial role in minimising these impurities and collection systems play a fundamental role in removing some pollutants from wastes, especially organic fraction of municipal solid wastes, and improving compost quality [ 13 ]. One way to overcome this is by accommodating the waste collection and composting facilities with easy and convenient measurement of these contents which may be accessible by the community. Community composting programs should incorporate not only the step-by-step procedure of how to do composting but at the same time introducing easy to use kit or techniques applicable to the public and community such as test strip to measure the nutrients and trace metal [ 11 ]. In addition, by adding composting accelerators, the nutritional quality of the compost can be overcome. This factor can be done by developing a manual for public use.

The case of local composting at homes reduces transportation and collection cost by decreasing the amount of domestic waste carried to centralized composting facilities [ 76 ]. At the same time, household waste contains impurities and are widely distributed which hinders the efficiency of centralized composting facilities in disposing them. Centralized composting facilities in Asia suffer from low compost quality and poor sales [ 32 ]. As a result, community composting system at a smaller scale is more convenient within this region.

Composting is linked to diseases such as Aspergillosis, Legionnaire’s disease, histoplasmosis, paronychia and tetanus. In the case of Aspergillosis and Legionnaire’s disease, it may cause higher potential risk in large scale composting facilities compared to the smaller scale composting at home due to massive handling and agitating process in the former [ 26 , 59 ]. Histoplasmosis have been associated with chicken manure used in composting, however it is not able to survive in a well-done composting process [ 39 ]. Therefore, disease spread can be minimised by having local composting at homes and community composting system at a smaller scale than centralized composting facility. The most important thing in minimising disease spread would be the practise of wearing gloves and face mask during this composting activity.

In this study, there was not much difference between the respondents who separated their waste and who did not (Table 2 ), which implies there is room for increasing the practice of waste segregation. Waste segregation practice is lacking in developing countries, most prominently in Asia ( [ 15 , 48 ]; Vassanadumrongdee and Kittipongvises 2018) and African continents (Dlamini et al. 2017; Yoada et al. 2014). Since respondents lack adequate knowledge on the critical importance of waste separation at source in general, the volume of municipal solid waste dumped in landfill sites are progressively increasing, thus jeopardizing the remaining landfill space at a faster rate than initially planned. Therefore, to alleviate this environmental problem in the developing countries in general and in Panji sub-districts, specifically, more focused and sustained public awareness programs, integrated with an enabling infrastructure, are required to change residents’ perceptions toward improved waste separation at source rates [ 49 ]. Additionally, the outcome of the waste segregation activities should be similarly emphasized and how waste minimization in the first instance, and waste segregation at source, will benefit and enhance the standard of living or life quality of households ([ 44 ]; Yoada et al. 2014 [ 49 ];).

The perceptions of the respondents towards waste management were generally good. About 99.7% reported that waste management is important, 62.4% report that it is the responsibility of them to manage waste (Table 2 ). Resident’s participation in waste management activities is one of the ways in maximizing the capture of source-segregated materials which can be facilitated by providing an associated infrastructure [ 58 ]. Nevertheless, there are still some respondents who felt that waste management is not their responsibility, but instead lies mainly on the district council, which highlights the general perception of some Malaysians that waste is a local municipal issue [ 46 ]. About 95.9% of the respondents were aware that improper waste management leads to sicknesses or diseases, which implies that most of the households were aware of the health implication of waste. The management of MSW in developing Asian countries is driven by a public health perspective: the collection and disposal of waste in order to avoid the spread of disease vectors from uncollected waste [ 5 ]. The perception of the remaining 2.7% that waste management does not cause disease and 1.5% who were unsure need to be changed by targeting this group as a follow up program focusing on waste management and health issues. The respondents also have adequate level of awareness and knowledge about proper waste management (92.9%). This high level of awareness is because of several reasons for properly disposing of waste, including cleanliness as the major factor (81.4%), followed by fear of illnesses (12.4%), and odor (6.2%).

Most of the respondents thought that improper waste management could lead to diarrhea and malaria (Table 2 ). Diarrhea and waste management is associated with environmental factors such as waste disposal mechanism. House-to-house waste collection has been shown to decrease the incidence of malaria compared to other waste collection method [ 7 ]. Hence, this implies the possibility of malaria incidence in areas which burn their waste and areas which are inaccessible by any waste collection. Other diseases could be related to typhoid, dysentery, cholera, respiratory infections and injury [ 42 ]. Proper waste management can lead to improvement in the quality of the environment and public health while, mismanagement of waste can be implicated with water, soil and air pollutions [ 1 ], breeding of mosquitos, which in turn, causes disease [ 15 , 68 ]. Although knowledge and awareness are acceptable among the respondents, this perception did not inculcate into waste segregation practices. In order to bridge the gap between awareness and behavior change, it is necessary for individuals to understand the importance of their role in how to do it and why it is important to do so [ 34 ]. More focused, detailed and continuous awareness and knowledge should be emphasized on this aspect specifically in the topics of environmental cleanliness, drainage systems, the recycling process in theory and practice, and a proper way to dispose of wastes [ 61 ].

Our findings have reported that socio-demographic factors (age, marital status) and respondents’ background (locality and house types) have influenced the household waste practices and perceptions in Panji sub-district (Tables 3 , 4 , 5 and 6 ). Age is associated with the maturity of the person which plays a significant factor in impacting their level of awareness on environmental health and sanitation ([ 12 , 17 ]; Meneses and [ 40 , 45 ]). The result of our study is consistent with the findings by Fan et al. [ 22 ] that older individuals prefer to engage more in waste sorting activities than young people in Singapore.

On the other hand, the number of children in the household may be a significant factor that influence waste separation. This for instance has been mentioned in Xu et al., (2017), where the intention of middle-aged adults towards behaving a more eco-friendly system was affected by critical social reference groups around them, such as the interaction with family or the motivation, especially children, and/or the consideration of the health situation of the whole family.

However, in other studies such as in Ittiravivongs [ 28 ] and Vassanadumrongdee & Kittipongvises (2018), socio-demographic variables became insignificant factors that influenced waste segregation participation. Knussen et al., [ 36 ] & White & Hyde [ 73 ] also indicate that the strongest variable influence participation in waste segregation program was past behaviour on regular source separation at home or recycling habit. Having waste separation in the office also could have positive influence on source separation intention, which is consistent with the study of Saphores et al. [ 64 ].

Considering number of children in the analysis is beyond the scope of this paper. Our result indicates that there is no significant difference in the waste segregation practice by the number of occupants in the household (χ 2 = 2.36, p = 0.31). For instance, the results show 54.2% of household with more than 6 occupants practice waste segregation, as compared to those who are not at 45.8%. This would suggest that the number of children in the house could be less influence on the waste segregation practice or vice versa. Future study may consider number of children in the family as one of the variables to be tested to confirm the hypothesis.

It was interesting to note that the types of housing in the case study were found to contribute heavily to the practices and perceptions of household waste management. Respondents who lived in bungalows (30.5%) and other type of houses than semi-detached, terrace and village (28.4%) are most likely to segregate their waste. Bungalows are associated with high income areas in Malaysia [ 53 ], which could be related to waste collection services are provided from these areas and possibly these households subscribe to this service. Potentially, these types of houses also have more space to be allocated for waste sorting than the other type of houses.

Other socio-demographic characteristics such as gender, education level and monthly income did not influence the practices and perceptions of the respondents. There were no significant associations between gender and waste segregation practices (χ 2 =0.596, p=0.440). Our finding is contrasting to the study by Ehrampoush and Moghadam [ 18 ] which reported that gender is likely to have an influence on the perceptions of household SWM. This view is supported by Mukherji et al. [ 48 ] who found that women, because of traditional gender roles associated with their household activities, have a closer engagement with waste management at household level.

The level of education has been reported as an important factor that could influence people’s perception of household waste management [ 40 ]. In this study, most of the respondents received their education until secondary school (57.4%), followed by diploma or degree (31.1%) but this did not influence their household SWM practices and perception (χ 2 =6.188, p=0.19), in particular waste segregation practice (Table 3 ). The poor average income of respondents is considered a very important variable that could influence people’s perception and attitudes negatively on solid waste management system (Parfitt et al. 1994 [ 40 ];). But, this is not the case in our study as economic consideration appears not to play a major role in the respondent’s perception as well as attitude to solid waste management practices (χ 2 =4.55, p=0.47).

The outcome from the PCA analysis showed that age, marital status and type of housing are the factors which contributed the most to waste segregation practices at home. Our finding agrees with the study by Vassanadumrongdee and Kittipongvises (2018) which found that age and family with children have a positive influence on respondent's source separation. Age was also a determinant factor in waste management practices in other studies [ 2 , 15 ]. With aging and married respondents, this could be highly related to the increasing sense of responsibility towards the environment and the importance of increasing the quality of life among household members. Types of housing could be related to either waste collection services were provided in these areas or that limited number of households subscribe to their service. Other studies in the literature have reported on the positive relationship between residence types and waste separation practices ([ 15 ]; Vassanadumrongdee and Kittipongvises 2018).

The high loadings on cooking at home and cooking frequency towards waste segregation practices indicate that these groups of respondents can be chosen for further interventions in terms of adopting proper waste management practices such as small-scale composting, recycling and waste minimization practices. The lifestyle of the respondents plays a significant role in the daily waste disposal practices in households (Yoada et al. 2014 [ 15 ];). The link between improper waste management practice and disease occurrence was also reported in studies in Ghana (Yoada et al. 2014 [ 2 ];). Their studies also reported that cleanliness was the main factor which motivates them to segregate the waste which is concurrent with the findings in this study.

Education is negatively related to waste segregation activity (Table 6 ), indicating that people with lower education are more willing to segregate their waste as compared to those with higher education. The likely reasons could be related to different lifestyle and time constraint to allocate purposely for waste sorting activities [ 15 ]. People with higher education level may be spending most of their time at the workplace, and not at home. However, more educational campaign should be promoted by emphasizing on the benefits of waste segregation activities. Sufficient knowledge, such as clear instructions provided in a communication and collection campaign, can increase the probability of waste separation behavior (Vassanadumrongdee and Kittipongvises S 2018).

The higher number of occupants living in the household is associated with a less likely chance of segregating the waste (Table 6 ). The result of our study is consistent with the study by Addo et al. [ 2 ] which reported that household sizes of 4 to 6 and above 7 were less likely to engage in the practice of waste management as compared to household size below 4 people. This is probably due to the household size tends to reduce the quantity of household waste and the practice of waste management. In contrast, studies by Osbjer et al. [ 54 ], indicate that waste management practice is associated with a higher number of people in the households, which could possibly be due to the need to handle waste generated by larger populations within the household.

One of the objectives of this study was to determine variables that influence waste segregation behavior among respondents. The PCA was adapted for this objective rather than correlation analysis for several reason. The correlation coefficient assumes a linear association where any linear transformation of variables will not affect the correlation. However, variables X and Y may also have a non-linear association, which could still yield a low correlation coefficient [ 30 ]. In addition, the correlation coefficient cannot be interpreted as causal.

It is possible that there is a causal effect of one variable on the other, but there may also be other possible explanations that the correlation coefficient does not take into account. Since several variables may influence respondent’s behavior on waste segregation activity at one time, the correlation coefficient analysis may not adequate to identify the significant variables and the connectivity between them accurately. Therefore, PCA was used to help us understand the connection between these variables as it can identify the correlation among the features efficiently.

There are thousands of features in the dataset that possible to highlight some trend or the influence of one factor to another. There are challenges to visualize the algorithm on all features efficiently especially when the performance of the algorithm may reduce with the bigger dataset. The PCA improve the algorithm performance by getting rid of correlated variables which don't contribute to the model and the analysis of the algorithms reduces significantly with less number of features. The Principal Components are also independent of one another. There is no correlation among them. It also reduces overfitting by reducing the number of features where it mainly occurs when there are too many variables in the dataset.

The scenario of the covid-19 pandemic contributes to a significant challenge in managing household waste management globally and specifically in developing countries. Waste management in the pandemic scenario requires consideration in SARS-CoV-2 transmission through MSW handling that includes survival time of the virus on the surfaces: population density and socioeconomic conditions [ 35 ]. In general, waste management phases (waste packing and delivering by the users; waste withdrawal; waste transport; and waste treatment) exposed the community and workers to direct contact with contaminated objects and surfaces; as well as contact with airborne droplets at a distance that may lead to the covid-19 [ 16 ]. Due to these reasons, waste management practices are designed to respond to the pandemic through changes in the collection system, allocation of treatment options, safety measure and priority separation, and functionality of circular economy strategies [ 72 ].

As a developing country, it is predicted that the effect of covid-19 on the waste management practices are more crucial due to the increase in disposable personal protective equipment at the household level and changes in eating habits, as a consequence of lifestyle disruptions and psychological stress due to lockdowns [ 4 , 55 ]. Developing countries have a higher risk of waste and wastewater contamination, leading to significant public health issues [ 71 ]. Inefficient waste management practices such as insecure landfills, lack of technical knowledge, scientific and economic resources, and lack of waste emergency policies produce severe consequences to the community and workers [ 63 , 65 , 71 ].

In order to improve the level of household solid waste management in the study area and Malaysia in general, it is important to empower the key drivers. The key drivers can be categorized as institutional-administrative, technological, economical, and social drivers [ 70 ]. A strong policy that implements direct regulation and enforcement; provide economic incentives or disincentives; and inform, interact and engage with the community are required [ 60 ].

Household solid waste management technologies that are being practised globally are landfilling, incineration, pyrolysis, Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), gasification, and anaerobic digestion [ 57 ]. As a developing country that focuses on solid waste management through landfilling, it is important to put extra attention on: i. decentralization of household solid waste management; ii. segregation at the source; iii. hygienic and safe handling; iv. flammable landfilll gasses handling; v. soil salinity from compost application; vi. Sustainable landfill management; vii. alternative markets for energy products; and viii. Implementation of the “pay as you throw” system [ 50 ].

Practical Implications, Study Limitations and Future Perspectives

This study highlights that waste segregation practice among respondents are still low and food waste are mixed with other household waste. This study provides as a baseline data in the region where less study was emphasized.

Quantitative and qualitative approach were used in this study by adopting descriptive and statistical analysis to improve the significance of the issue. Despite the significance of some aspects of this study, further studies should be done to incorporate children and teenagers as the participants and a more detailed questionnaire incorporating detailed health implications. Apart from that, a cross-sectional survey using random sampling technique was used to assess the household SWM practices and perceptions among the residents. This study is also limited to only Panji sub-districts which requires a wider region to generalize the findings of the study. The survey questionnaires depend on self-reporting manner, which may be subject to bias. Further study is recommended to engage observation at houses or at the waste collecting points to complement the survey. Moreover, the association between household socio-economic factors and health implications were limited. Future study should address this factor for a more focused and sustained public awareness programs.


The study found that the waste segregation practice among respondents can be considered as low, where the number of respondents who segregate their waste was equivalent to those who did not, which implies there is room for improvement. The main component of solid waste generated at home was largely food debris that has the potential to be composted and plastics that can be recycled, which were mainly disposed without separation. The local solid waste management authority should focus on utilizing this organic waste through a larger scale and wider involvement of the locals in composting program. The growth of small-scale community-based waste composting can act as a potential start up venue in accelerating this program, without the necessity of extensive investment by the local authority. The authority in the study area has provided appropriate waste disposal sites, but there are also some that were disposed in inappropriate sites. Majority of the respondents were also aware that improper waste management can lead to diseases. Age, marital status and, type of house was found to be the group that segregate their waste the most, indicating that respondents which fall under this category can be the target for further intervention programs. This study suggests the local authorities to design waste separation programs that suit the needs of targeted population, to ensure high participation rate among the community. Marketing and campaigns should emphasize the positive perception and attitude towards waste separation at home and also negative perception of non-participants. This study may provide authorities in Malaysia with baseline information to set the future implementations of waste segregation activities in households. This study also suggests focusing on inculcating community involvement in doing waste separation at source, waste reduction and recycling as a habit and way of life. The local authority may facilitate this activity by providing bins to segregate wastes, establishing waste banks and recycling facilities at a wider scale than the scattered existing ones. Both a top-down and bottom-up approach should work hand in-hand to realize the sustainable solid waste management as a success.

Nevertheless, acknowledging the limitations of the current study, a more detailed and thorough study should incorporate a wider region, in-depth association of waste separation programs and health implications. Combining survey questionnaire with statistical analysis act as a stepping stone to expand the study by engaging the community in actual waste separation activities. This can be done by initiating a collaboration between the local authority, the leader in a community and the residents itself as a pilot study. In addition, the findings of this study will serve as baseline evidence and pave the way for other researchers and policymakers to conduct more rigorous studies on this arena.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets supporting the conclusions of this article are included within the supplementary material section.


Statistical Package for Social Science

Solid Waste Management

municipal solid waste

not in my backyard

Kota Bharu Municipal Council

Sustainable Development Goals

Malaysian Ringgit

Principal component analysis


Refuse Derived Fuel

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We are grateful to everybody who completed the questionnaires and to Miss Aisyah Ariff, Miss Zetty Hiddayah binti Zuharizam and Mr Wan Izulfikri bin Wan Mohd Roslan for assisting in data collection.

This study was financially supported by Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (Postdoctoral Fellowship SLAB) and Universiti Sains Malaysia. None of the funders were involved in the design of the study, in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in the writing of the manuscript.

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WF contributed in conceptualization and writing the manuscript. NINI collected the data, contributed to the literature review and execute the project. SNSI contributed in the formal analysis, methodology, data curation and the tables and figures. MHJ contributed to editing of the manuscript. HA contributed in supervision, project administration and planning. All authors have read and approved the final version of this manuscript.

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hypothesis of solid waste management

Investigating the drivers of solid waste generation and disposal: evidence from South Africa

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  • Published: 14 May 2024

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hypothesis of solid waste management

  • Abiodun Olusola Omotayo   ORCID: 1  

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With rapid population growth and urbanization, the global annual waste generation is expected to increase to 3.40 billion tonnes by the year 2050, while improper waste disposal poses a potential threat of growing concern. Using a South African nationally representative survey dataset, the General Household Survey, this study unraveled the determinants of solid waste generation and factors influencing payment for its disposal. The estimation approach employed was essentially based on descriptive (percentage, standard deviation, mean) statistics. Additionally, Tobit regression of the composite solid waste were generated from the Principal Component Analysis, while Probit Regression model assessed the factors influencing the household’s payment for solid waste. The empirical results revealed that household’s socio-economic characteristics contributes to solid waste generation and payment for its disposal. The results of the two models indicated that, although household’s asset portfolio (financial, physical, natural, and human assets) appear intangible, they contributed significantly to solid waste generation and payment for its disposal. Therefore, policy incentives targeted at investment in human capital, environmental awareness programmes and clearer solid waste management strategies should be encouraged in South Africa, given that environmental sustainability is key to the households’ health and economic prosperity.

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1 Introduction

The amount of waste generated globally is increasing, which can be attributed to the global population explosion, rapid urbanization and industralization (Khan et al., 2022 ; Yukalang et al., 2017 ), particularly in developing nations(Aleluia & Ferrão, 2016 ; Keho, 2016 ). These patterns, together with the lockdowns and restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, increased the solid waste generation globally. It therefore becomes essential for governments at local and national levels to ensure that more sustainable solid waste disposal practices are in place (Moh & Abd Manaf, 2014 ; Omotayo et al., 2020 ; Raj & Samuel, 2023 ). As in other developing nations, solid waste generation in South Africa is rapidly increasing, putting pressure on the already constrained municipal service delivery resources and infrastructure (Dlamini et al., 2017 ; Haywood et al., 2021 ; Omotayo et al., 2020 ; Swilling, 2010 ).

Solid waste streams, including from businesses, garden refuse, building and demolition wastes, as well as households and community waste, have been established to have harmful health and welfare impacts, particularly on those living in adjacent marginalised communities (Moh & Abd Manaf, 2014 ; Raj & Samuel, 2023 ; Tsheleza et al., 2019 ). Besides the negative health impact caused by water contamination, rodents and insect invasions, improper solid waste management can also have a damaging effect by causing environmental problems such as flooding due to bloked drainages and sewage systems (Ferronato et al., 2017 ; Ikpe et al., 2020 ; Omotoso & Omotayo, 2024 ; Suleman et al., 2015 ; Ziraba et al., 2016 ). In addition, the impact of inadequate waste management on health could be physical problems, infection transmission, and emotional and psychological stresses (Raj & Samuel, 2023 ; Raj et al., 2023 ).

The need to improve waste generation and management has become increasingly essential with the growing population and urbanization in South Africa, where the local authorities are required to carry out a proper waste disposal (Omotayo et al., 2020 ; Rodseth et al., 2020 ). The South Africa national standards for waste collection sets out the various service delivery requirements for instance, a reported solid waste container must be removed within 24 h and a minimum of time in a week to avoid insect breeding, pollution and other environmental hazards (Haywood et al., 2021 ; Oelofse, 2011 ).

Improperly disposed households solid wastes, such as paper, plastic wraps, aluminum and glass, contributes to environmental challenges, such as drains blocked, which can cause flooding (ElSaid & Aghezzaf, 2018 ; Solberg, 2012 ). In addition, high temperatures and relative humidity increase the leaching of organic waste material, which affects natural ecosystems by contaminating ground water, thereby potentially leading to health issues (Ferronato & Torretta, 2019 ; Omotoso et al., 2023 ). Likewise, the water held in waste items (condemned pots, plates, empty thins and cans) could attract mosquitoes or other undesirable insects, while food wastes attract rodents, insects, and play a role in spreading infectious diseases (Solberg, 2012 ). Furthermore, solid waste generation in South Africa is faster than any other environmental pollutants, while their burning releases greenhouse gases (Challcharoenwattana & Pharino, 2015 ; Rada et al., 2014 ).

Environmental sustainability is key in South Africa, however there is scarcity of literature on the determinants of households’ waste generation and disposal. Given the possible relationship between a household’s livelihoods assets, the environmental and solid waste management, and the efforts to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 3, 6 and 11), this study seeks to investigate the common solid waste disposal practices and their links to household’s socioeconomics. An important feature that distinguishes this study from previous research is that it relies on a detailed dataset from the South Africa General Households Survey to explore factors that influence solid waste generation. Having an understanding of these interactions is pertinent for timely policies to address the present and potential future environmental issues. Such information can help to inform the development of awareness that serves the public health interest.

2 Theoretical framework, context and related literature

The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) focuses on changes in individual behaviour, underpinned by attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. It emphasizes control beliefs, which focus on the behavioral changes (Ajzen, 1985 , 1991 ). The concept of self-efficacy was initially emphasized by (Armitage & Conner, 2001 ). However, TPB has been criticized for placing more emphasis on intention rather than belief (Gonçalves et al., 2021 ; Sheeran & Orbell, 1999 ). Some empirical studies, reported that the socio-economics, health, and environmental factors can also explain human behaviours (Duncan et al., 2012 ; Hagger & Hamilton, 2021 ; McEachan et al., 2011 ; Schüz et al., 2017 ; Sniehotta et al., 2014 ).

Literature, adopted the TPB in waste recycling behaviours (Ioannou et al., 2013 ; Kumar, 2019 ; Kumar et al., 2017 ; Omotayo et al., 2020 , 2021 ). In the same vein, solid waste generation is a function of people's income levels (Kamran et al., 2015 ; Khan et al., 2016 , 2022 ; Suthar & Singh, 2015 ). Other studies have analysed the linkages between recycling behaviour and incomes and education (Omotayo et al., 2020 ; Saphores & Nixon, 2014 ; Yokoo et al., 2018 ). Additionally, Callan and Thomas ( 2017 ), found that the quantities of recycled wastes increased with income and education, while Ferrara and Missios ( 2005 ), found that the decline in household income led to a fall in their participation in recycling, whereas an increase in educational attainment led to an increase in their participation in recycling.

Moreso Grover and Singh ( 2014 ), explained that income was insignificantly leading to generating wastes among some households in Dehradun City. In the same vein, studies, identified that conservation knowledge predicted recycling behavior. Furthermore, people with better information participates in waste recycling, which is in line with several findings (Babaei et al., 2015 ; Hopper & Nielsen, 1991 ; Saphores & Nixon, 2014 ; Saphores et al., 2012 ). However, some studies have reported better conservation attitudes in urban areas and some occupational status, with no conclusive result in relation to age of individuals (Frederiks et al., 2015 ; Frick et al., 2004 ).

South Africa is a major contributor of solid waste (Serge Kubanza & Simatele, 2020 ), being an upper-middle income nation that generates millions of tonnes per anum (see Fig.  1 ). In 2012, the nation generated an estimated 108 million tonnes of waste, out of which 59 million tonnes were general waste, with a total of 44 million tonnes household solid waste (Serge Kubanza & Simatele, 2020 ). The 2019 South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), states that over 42 million cubic metres of general waste is annually generated, with the largest (42%) contributor bein the Gauteng Province, having the highest number of people and being the econmic hub of the country (Aboginije et al., 2020 ; Duncan et al., 2012 ; Nyika & Onyari, 2021 ; Omotayo et al., 2020 ).

figure 1

Trends of people using at least basic sanitation services (% of total population) in South Africa: Source: own plot based from the (World Bank, 2017 )

South Africa’s biggest contributors to the solid waste production are mining with 72.3%, pulverized fuel ash of 6.7%, waste fron agricultural activities of 6.1%, waste from urban activities of 4.5% and sewage sludge of 3.6% (Muzenda, 2014 ; Nkosi et al., 2013 ) with (90.1%) of the country’s waste being landfilled, while the waste recycling level has remained at 9.9%, being very low compared to the international standards, with the western nations, such as Germany, Austria recycling up to 63% of theirs (Premalatha et al., 2014 ). In addition, the Goal 2 of the South Africas’ National Waste Management Strategy allign with this study that being to ensure adequate delivery of waste services, as solid waste generation increases exponentially while the basic sanitation services have not increased as needed (Fig.  1 ). The Waste Act 59 of 2008 highlights various instruments tools, waste classification (Serge Kubanza & Simatele, 2020 ).

In spite of these, inefective municipal solid services continue in the country, with 66% of the nation receiving proper waste collection services from local authorities or private companies, which indicates an obvious solid waste disposal problems and the need for solutions to transform solid waste into an economic contributor (Samson & Creation, 2004 ). The potential of recycling sector in South Africa needs to be conceived, prioritized as economic advantage (Godfrey et al., 2013 ). Hlahla et al. ( 2014 ) noted that this is an avenue to promote sustainable waste management in the nation. Therefore, enhancing household’s livelihood assets in South Africa could contribute to the poor and marginalized household’s poverty thereby, making it possible to pay for solid wastes and other financial obligations ( ). Similarly, Hangulu and Akintola ( 2017 ), expressed that the contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) towards solid waste disposal in South Africa needs to be recognized as a commonality that must be encouraged by the green economy principles.

2.1 Emerging approaches to solid waste management

The circular economy concept is more than reducing the waste that needs disposal (Appendix 2 ). It is an active approach that design products in order to reduce solid waste, this is achieved through a durable output and back into the economy (Gaustad et al., 2018 ; Mestre & Cooper, 2017 ; Reike et al., 2018 ). In the transition of a nations environmental sustainability move where every manufacturer is economically responsible for their consumed/utilised products (Appendix 2 ). The application of this principles to solid waste disposal common in the high-income countries, and is at its early stages in the upper-middle income nations like South Africa.

3 Material and methods

3.1 study area.

South Africa has an estimated population of 60 million, and a land mass of 1,220,813 km 2 (Omotayo et al., 2020 , 2021 ) with nine provinces which are endowed with different natural resources (Fig.  2 ). It has different forms of residential areas with different level of refuse delivery through the municipalities (Omotayo et al., 2020 , 2021 ). The nation generates roughly millions tons of waste per year, the extent of waste generation depends on the household’s income (van der Merwe, 2020 ; Verster & Bouwman, 2020 ).

figure 2

Geographical location of the South Africa, indicating the nine provinces of the nation

3.2 Data sources

The data used was obtained from the 2019 GHS, a yearly cross-sectional national study by Statistics South Africa that is administered to households in all nine provinces. In total, data from 19,649 households was captured in the 2019 GHS and used in this research. The sampling procedure involves a two-stage, stratified design with a probability-proportional-to-size (PPS) sampling of primary sampling units (PSUs) from within strata and a systematic sampling of dwelling units (DUs) from the sampled PSUs (Mthethwa & Wale, 2021 ).

3.3 Analytical techniques

The Principal Components Analytical (PCA) was employed to generate a composite index for household’s waste generation. Thereafter, a Tobit regression model was applied on the 2019 GHS dataset to examine the factors influencing solid waste generation.

3.3.1 Principal composite analysis (PCA) for generating solid waste composite index

Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was used to form a composite index of the waste based on five main sources of solid waste generation (Kaza et al., 2018 ). This helps capture the different dimensions of households’ solid wastes in a composite manner. The choice of the indicators was drawn from the literature and data available (Kaza et al., 2018 ; Omotayo et al., 2020 ; Rada et al., 2014 ). Solid waste generation are represented by at least one indicator (Vyas & Kumaranayake, 2006 ). The variable’s dummy form of papers, glass, plastic, metals/aluminum cans, food wastes were computed thus:

where the solid waste generation is the composite waste index, \(\emptyset_{{\text{i}}}\) and \( \beta_{{\text{i}}}\) are parameters to be estimated, \( N_{{{\text{ir}}}}\) represents the vector of variables and \(z_{{\text{v}}}\) is the error term. Using the index generated as the dependent variable in the Tobit regression analysis.

3.3.2 Tobit regression

To analyse the drivers of solid waste generation, Tobit regression model was regarded as suitable due to its strength in measuring the elasticity of the probability on the household’s waste generation. Following earlier studies (Adelekan & Omotayo, 2017 ; Awotide et al., 2019 ; Ndhlovu et al., 2020 ), the composite solid waste index generated previously through the PCA was used as the dependent variable. The latent unobserved variable g i * which depends linearly on z i through a parameter vector α . Where τ i is a distributed error term. The observed variable g i is defined as being equal to the latent variable when it is above zero and equal to zero if otherwise (2).

where g i * is a latent variable:

Freeman ( 1998 ), proved that the likelihood estimator (Omotayo, 2016 ; Tobin, 1958a , 1958b ), was consistent. The likelihood function of the model (1) is given by L (Eq.  3 ).

where f and F are the standard normal density and cumulative distribution functions, respectively.

Then we can write the log-likelihood function (Eq.  4 ).

Which is there estimated by maximizing the log-likelihood function (Eq.  5 )

The variables used in the analysis are presented in Table  1 , with their descriptions, mean and standard deviation. It was therefore hypothesized in a null form that, there is no significant relationship between the household’s socio-economic profile and solid waste generation in South Africa.

3.3.3 Probit regression of factors influencing payment for household’s solid waste disposal

The study applied probit model for the binary responses to the payment preferences question (Olagunju et al., 2021 ; Omotayo, 2018a ; Omotayo et al., 2022 ). Probit regression analysis relied on the cumulative normal probability distribution and the binary dependent variable, y, takes on the values of zero and one (Aldrich & Nelson, 1984 ). In this case, the payment for solid waste disposal preference was taken as 1, while nonpayment preference was coded as 0. It is assumed that the household obtains maximum utility, having payment for solid waste disposal in preference to nonpayment (Liao & Liao, 1994 ; Karaca‐Mandic et al . 2012 ). The probability pi of choosing any alternative over not choosing it can be expressed as in (6), (Aldrich & Nelson, 1984 ):

The marginal effect associated with the continuous explanatory variables (Table  2 ) Xk on the probability P(Yi = 1 | X), holding the other variables constant, can be thus derived (Eq.  7 ) (Aldrich & Nelson, 1984 ):

where φ represents the probability density function of a standard normal variable. Discrete changes in the predicted probabilities constitute an alternative to the marginal effect when evaluating the influence of a dummy variable. Such an effect can be derived from the following (Eq.  8 ) (Aldrich & Nelson, 1984 ):

The marginal effects give deeper knowledge on how the explanatory variables shift the probability of payment for waste disposal (Hosmer & Lemesbow, 1980 ), the data are ranked according to the predicted probability of the outcome from the model that is being evaluated (Kramer & Zimmerman, 2007 ). See Eq.  9 :

where \(o_{i} \) is the number of outcomes, events, in group i , \(n_{i }\) is the number of observations in group i , \( \overline{p}_{i}\) is the average predicted probability in group i, and K is the number of groups. Equation  9 is referred to as the Hosmer–Lemeshow test statistic \(HL\) , which is approximately distributed as a chi-square with a K– 2 degrees of freedom(Guffey, 2012 ).

Herewith, it was assumed that the socio-economic status of the households affected the preferences for the payment of solid waste disposal in South Africa. These characteristics were gender, age, household size and income. Table 2 shows the variable definitions, standard deviation, and mean values. The study formulated the second hypothesis relating to socio-economic and demographic factors affecting solid waste disposal among the households. The null hypotheses were therefore that the socio-economics of the households does not significantly affect their payment for solid waste disposal.

4 Socio-economic profile of the South African households

The results across the provinces of South Africa (Table  3 ) revealed that the average household heads’ age was 49 years, which varied slightly between provinces. The result was in line with (Burger et al., 2014 ; O'Brien & Thondhlana, 2019 ), whose reports established that the majority of the family heads were in their economically active age groups. In addition, the compiled dataset result reveal that a large percentage (86.69%) of households’ heads had educational attainments, the lowest being Mpumalanga Province (79.91%) and the highest the Western Cape Province (95.42%). Education contributes to the family status and sustainability (Olagunju et al., 2021 ; Omotayo, 2018b ; Omotayo et al., 2020 ; Omotoso et al., 2022 ). Furthermore, a report by (Bonal, 2007 ; Challcharoenwattana & Pharino, 2016 ; Omotayo et al., 2018 ), revealed that educational attainments plays a crucial contribution in the mitigation of the negative impact of environmental shocks on people’s wellbeing.

In addition, the finding further shows an average monthly income of R7 516.16, with the Western Cape and Free State Provinces earning the highest average monthly incomes of R13 644.44 and R16 067.70 respectively, and the lowest being the Eastern Cape (R1 922.23) and North West Provinces (R2297.77). Households income level affects solid waste disposal globally (Kaza et al., 2018 ; Thomas et al., 2021 ). This study’s findings indicated that 12.44% of the of the participants have access to social grants, with the highest at 14.88% and 15.71% at the Western Cape and Gauteng Provinces respectively. Social grants (pensions, disability and child grants) are a form of benefit that is intended to reduce poverty for people regarded as being marginalized to improve households' ideal on environmental conservation (Kabeer, 2014 ; Omotayo et al., 2018 ). The average rate of 12.44% household’s beneficiary across South Africa can be improved in order to reduce the poverty intensity across the nation.

Social grants are needed by many South African households, particularly those who have been negatively affected by the lockdown measures implemented to address the COVID-19 pandemic that results in substantial job losses, as this may have affected their ability to pay for solid waste removal. Male-headed households constituted approximately 57.34% of the study participants, with 48.25% in the Northern Cape, 42.67% in the North West and 31.32% Guateng Provinces. Studies by (Burgess, 1982 ; Horrell & Krishnan, 2007 ; Katapa, 2006 ; Oginni et al., 2013 ), explained that households’ headed by female are poor and usually food starved. They added that they are also usually unmarried, older than their male counterparts, and are typically poorer.

Furthermore, the average households’ size of four recorded in the pooled data indicates a fairly moderate family membership compared to the average income (R7 516.16) of the participants. However, large household sizes could aggravate poverty and more use of material that needs to be disposed of as solid waste, which they are unable to pay for. The extent of households’ waste generation depends on their income, with Appendix 1 further presenting some of the socio-economic characteristics and asset portfolio items related to their dwelling places. This background indicates how the household’s income and access to some basic facilities can influence their waste and its disposal. Over one quarter (25.15%) of households in the pooled data set indicated ownership of their residence, the various associated factors suggesting that a proper structure indicates good income sources, which translates into their having access to and using municipal wastes services.

The monthly rent or mortgage and market value of the South African property shows the presence of economically active households, which translates into greater use of various municipal waste services. Despite having ownership, a national average of 62.23% had not benefited from the governments housing subsidy for first time buyers, this is not good for the poor who are predominantly blacks in the nation. However, many home owners in the Free State (67.23%), KwaZulu-Natal (55.78%) and Limpopo (78.23%) provinces had benefited from this provision, indicating considerable economic activity to enable people to qualify for home loans. Finally, 66.95% of the pooled data indicated water supply interruption across all nine provinces (Appendix 1 ), which is a major concern, as the prolonged absence of potable water can contribute to health problems (Omotayo et al., 2021 ). Such incidence of water interruption can make households resolve to use materials such as paper, tissue paper to improvise for water shortage during domestic and activities hence leading to increase in refuse wastes and disposals in the environments.

4.1 Household’s waste disposal and perceptions about the environment

Table 4 revealed that refuse dump/container (77.56%) is the principal method in the study, this being similar to that reported by (Kaza et al., 2018 ; Omotayo et al., 2020 ), with each province having their own preferred method. Waste disposal through local authorities (once a week) accounted for 76.23% and 66.67% of the participants from the Free State and Eastern Cape provinces respectively. Limpopo (15.11%) and North West (18.76%) provinces constituted the least. Households in Gauteng (71.09%) and Limpopo (84.49%) provinces ranked highest in term of communal container waste disposal methods. This corroborates the findings of Kaza et al. ( 2018 ) on upper middle-income countries and patterns on waste disposal, as illustrated in Fig.  3 . More so, Godfrey et al. ( 2013 ), revealed that the potential of the recycling needs to be explored and advanced, owning to its numerous associated livelihood and environmental benefits.

figure 3

Provincial households recycling waste generated

In the same vein, Table  5 indicates the households' perceived environmental problems in South Africa, with littering being a major concern (28.81%) and land degradation (3.01%) being of limited concern. The distributions of respondents across the nine provinces revealed that Gauteng (55.34%) and Free State (76.23%) indicated that littering as a major problem. Lack of proper waste removal was the majorly (23.90%) in Gauteng Province. This corroborates the existing body of literature from South Africa that illegally dumped refuses contributes to several environmental challenges, as drains are blocked by the wastes and could cause flooding during rainy seasons (ElSaid & Aghezzaf, 2018 ; Solberg, 2012 ).

However, Table  5 further shows that 4.24% of the households had water pollution challenge, specifically in the Gauteng and Free State provinces, with the highest levels of 7.56% and 4.59% respectively. The statistic may be due to contaminations of water body, such as streams and river, due to improper and inappropriate facilities. Inadequate solid waste disposal is capable of leading to negative effects on people’s health and the environment (Ferronato et al., 2017 ; Ikpe et al., 2020 ; Suleman et al., 2015 ; Ziraba et al., 2016 ).

4.2 Solid waste generation, disposal and recycling behaviour

The increasing volumes and changing waste compositions have resulted in municipal solid waste becoming a global challenge, with serious evironmental,health and economic cost implications (Alfaia et al., 2017 ; Kulkarni & Anantharama, 2020 ; Kumar et al., 2017 ). Paper, glass, plastic and metal/aluminum are the major sources of waste generation (Bartelings & Sterner, 1999 ). South Africa has not been excluded, as the type of solid waste recycled (Fig.  3 ) revealed that paper and cardboard boxes (6.31%) are the most recycled material, while metal (0.87%) is the least. The Western Cape (11.88%) has the highest percentage of recycled paper while the North West (2.91) occupied the least in term of paper recycling. Owning to this, circular economy (Appendix 2) adresses a long possible waste rework, and back into the economy, which is needed in South Africa (Gaustad et al., 2018 ; Mestre & Cooper, 2017 ; Reike et al., 2018 ).

Furthermore, 52.45% of the households pay for waste disposal (Table  6 ), while the highest was Free State (89.12%) and KZN provinces (75.18%) however, Limpopo (12.34%) and the Eastern Cape (23.89%) households had the lowest. This finding attests to the economic level of the households in the mentioned provinces, it is an indication of the poverty level of the Limpopo and the Eastern Cape provinces who were the poorest provinces since ability to pay is supposed to move in the direction of the participant’s financial capability.

In addition, Table  6 further indicates those that were doing otherwise, with Limpopo and Eastern Cape Provinces with 62.11% and 64.23% respectively, while Free State (5.61%) and North West Provinces (16.9%) reported the lowest percentages. The literature corroborate these finding, with solid wastes generated from these provinces having potentials that can be explored for economic and livelihood benefits (Kaza et al., 2018 ; Omotayo et al., 2020 ; Ozturk et al., 2017 ). Therefore, exploring these underlining factors that influence the payment of solid waste disposal could inform the development of awareness campaigns that serve the public health interest in South Africa.

5 The determinants of solid waste generation and disposal in South Africa

PCA was used to formulate the household’s solid waste generation index, which was the dependent variable in the Tobit model. In order to avoid inconsistency and bias in the result, the variables were subjected to a multicollinearity test, through the variance inflation factor (VIF), with 1.48 mean. In addition, a high degree of tolerance computed indicates the absence of serious multicollinearity in the result. Therefore, the socio-economic and livelihood assets indicated a different level of statistical significance (Table  7 ), the null hypothesis should be rejected. The coefficients of the dummy variables representing the South Africa’s nine provinces were significant (p < 0.01) and positive, which implies a direct relationship between them and their composite solid waste generation level. Households generate solid wastes of different degree based on income and other socio-economic attributes. However, many solid waste types are hazardous to the environment and human life, and need to be carefully treated according to proper waste regulations. The findings corroborates existing studies across the provinces of South Africa (Haywood et al., 2021 ; Moleko, 2019 ; Niyobuhungiro & Schenck, 2020 ; Nyika & Onyari, 2021 ; Schoeman, 2021 ; Sowman & Brown, 2006 ; Tsheleza et al., 2019 ).

Similarly, the household size was significant ( p  < 0.05) and positive (0.0129) which implies that, as the number of household increases, the composite solid waste generation indices increased. This is to be expected, as an increase in the household number raise the family income, which would influence consumption and therefore solid waste generation. This agrees with the concept of income effect, that shows that change in demand for goods is triggered by an adjustment in consumer's purchasing power resulting from a change in the real income (Balassa, 1964 ; Boulding, 1945 ; Rogoff, 1996 ). Alternatively, the coefficients of the participant’s population group, age, house roofing materials and market value of the property were negative and significant ( p  < 0.01, p  < 0.01, p  < 0.1 and p  < 0.05) respectively. This indicates that these variables contribute negatively to the households’ composite solid waste index. Furthermore, the population group (1 if African/black, 0 = otherwise) indicates that Black households head respondents have a lower possibility of increasing the household’s solid waste generation level. More so, increasing age of the head reduces the solid waste generation level of the household, which may be due to a reduction in the consumption pattern as households’ age.

Likewise, the parameter of the household’s housing material (1 if corrugated iron, 0 = otherwise) shows that households with corrugated iron roof material have less possibility of increasing their composite solid wastes compared to those with other forms of roofing materials. This could be due to the households being poor with limited income, as solid waste generation levels travel in the same direction of their income. Similarly, the parameters of the property market value (total value in South African Rand) indicates that an increasing amount translates into lower household’s waste generation, which is unexpected, as increase in the market value would be assumed to lead to increase in waste generation.

The parameters of a household’s access to housing subsidy, water supply interruption and total household’s income were positive ( p  < 0.01), which indicates that these variables have a strong positive relationship with solid waste generation. Expectedly, households are likely to spend more money and generate more solid waste when they have access to a housing subsidy, leading to increased solid waste generation. Similarly, the coefficient of the household’s experience of water supply interruption was captured as dummy, which implies that water interruption increases the chances of households’ solid waste generation. This supports the apriori knowledge of this study that, the frequency of households’ water supply interruption could lead to the use of alternative materials (paper, tissue, wipes) for domestic activities, which invariably increases their solid waste generation level. The parameter of the household total income indicates that access to multiple sources of income increases the households’ waste generation propensity, which is to be expected and supported by the concept of “income effect” (Balassa, 1964 ; Rogoff, 1996 ).

Alternatively, the coefficients of household head’s use of public buses for transport ( p  < 0.1), access to a grant for farming activities ( p  < 0.01), poverty status ( p  < 0.05) and livestock’s production ( p  < 0.01) were negative and significant. This indicates that an increase in these variables leads to a reduction in solid waste generation. Other variables were contrary to the expected outcomes, as the use of public buses, grants for farming and engagement in livestock production were expected to lead to an increase in solid waste generation. However, an increase in the poverty status of a households could lead to a reduction in solid waste generation, based on the fact that an increase in income and prosperity could increase solid waste generation.

Finally, nine of the household’s asset portfolios (poultry, and fruit and vegetable production, having a computer, vacuum cleaner, dishwashing machine, deep freezer, electric stove, microwave oven and radio were positively significant ( p  < 0.01, p  < 0.01, p  < 0.1, p  < 0.01, p  < 0.01, p  < 0.05, p  < 0.05, p  < 0.1 and p  < 0.01 respectively) to solid waste generation. This is, as expected, as these assets are also indicators of income, which increases solid waste generation (Balassa, 1964 ; Rogoff, 1996 ). The asset portfolio of the households was major determinant of their solid waste generation, with the model showing that although factors such as financial, natural, physical, and human assets appear intangible, they contributed significantly to solid waste generation. Therefore, it must be seen as both with consumption benefits and potential environmental threat that is capable of generating waste in South African communities.

5.1 Estimates of the factors influencing payment for solid waste disposal

The results being reported in Table  8 Sows the estimate of the determinants of payment for solid wasted disposal in South Africa, a multicollinearity test among the variables was 1.22 with a high tolerance computed which translates into the absence of serious multicollinearity therefore, second null hypothesis is hereby rejected. Furthermore, the marginal effects were estimated and reported for better interpretation of result (Greene, 2012 ). Furthermore, the goodness of fit for the model were through Wald chi 2 , Pseudo R 2 and Hosmer–Lemeshow chi 2 Archer and Lemeshow ( 2006 ), which were equally reported in the Table, with the employed diagnostics measures indicating that the Probit model was a good fit. The results show that the households’ provinces captured in their dummy form increased the probability of paying for solid waste disposal significantly ( p  < 0.01). In other words, households from the Western Cape Province have a higher probability of paying for their solid wastes disposals than with their counterparts from other provinces. This could be due to the Western Cape Province's single largest contributor to the region's economy with agricultural produce and wine dominating exports (Midgley et al., 2005 ).

Additionally, the coefficients of age (−0.0153) and household’s frequency of waste recycling (0.2168) were significant ( p  < 0.01). This implies that increasing age of the household head has a lower probability of influencing the household’s payment for solid waste disposal. It indicates that an increase in the respondents’ age has a 0.0048 probability of reducing payment for solid waste disposal. Meanwhile, the parameter of the household’s frequency of waste recycling was significant and positive, which indicates that households with higher frequency of recycling their solid waste have higher probability of paying for their solid waste disposals. This means that a unit increase in the household’s frequency of waste recycling has a 7.26% increase in the willingness to pay for waste disposal.

Alternatively, the parameters of variables such as environmental littering ( p  < 0.01), use of buses ( p  < 0.01) and trains for transport ( p  < 0.1), and buyers of the agricultural products sold ( p  < 0.05) were negatively significant. This indicates that an increase in this variable can reduce the probability of the household’s payment for solid waste disposal. The marginal effect of the variables was also negative and significant, implying that a unit increase will result in reductions in environmental littering (13.44%), use of buses (7.78%) and trains for transport (4.77%) and buyers of agricultural products sold (11.07%) in the likelihood of the households to pay for waste disposal. Likewise, the parameters of some natural capitals, such as the number cattle, sheep, goat, pig, and chickens the household own, were negative and significant ( p  < 0.01). This implies that increasing the number of these natural capitals has the potential to reduce the households’ payment for solid waste disposal. This does not corroborate the apriori expectation that an increase in the households’ natural capital is likely to lead to a propensity to pay for solid waste disposal.

Furthermore, additional dimensions of financial and natural capital (total household’s income, has a rain water tank/harvesting system, borehole, and grey water tank) were negatively significant ( p  < 0.05) variables. This indicates that the households that have these financial and natural capital items, all things being equal, have a lower likelihood of payment for solid waste disposal. The parameter of these variables were further explained as an increasing accumulation of the assets leads to varying degrees of reductions in the probability of paying for solid waste disposal by the households. This is unexpected, as a larger asset portfolio should lead to the capability to pay for solid waste disposal, although this could be a peculiar issue with South Africa or perhaps solid waste disposal is just not available, so they cannot pay for it.

Some important financial capital items stood out to influence households’ payment for solid waste disposal in the study. The coefficient of access to a consistent household income, other income sources and social grants were significant ( p  < 0.01). This shows that access to these variables increases the households’ probability of paying for solid waste disposal. This supports the assertions in the literature that a household’s financial asset possession affords them the ability to generate more wastes and the economic power to pay for wasted disposal (Anand, 1999 ; Bartelings & Sterner, 1999 ; Ferronato & Torretta, 2019 ; Owusu et al., 2013 ; Tsheleza et al., 2019 ). Similarly, the parameters of selected households’ possession of physical capital items, such as television set ( p  < 0.01), swimming pool ( p  < 0.01), DVD player ( p  < 0.01), air conditioner ( p  < 0.01), computers ( p  < 0.01), deep freezer ( p  < 0.01), home theatre system ( p  < 0.01), solar electrical panel ( p  < 0.1) and radio set ( p  < 0.01) were positive and significant for their probability of paying for solid waste disposal (Table  8 ). This was expected, as it implies that respondents who possesses these physical capital items have higher likelihood of paying for their solid waste disposal ceteris paribus .

On the other hand, participants that answered ‘yes’ to the procession of these physical capitals have higher probability of paying for their solid waste disposal because they leave where waste is available. This is possibly due to their having more disposable income with which to buy non-essential items and therefore generating more wastes. The importance of livelihood assets cannot be overemphasized in the request for household’s payment for solid waste disposal, enabling the accumulation of assets by the poor to reduce poverty and vulnerability will help in the pursuit of this goal, as well as ability to pay for their waste disposal (Gorman et al., 2001 ; Peprah et al., 2017 ). This emphasizes the role of livelihood assets as key determinants of solid waste disposal in South Africa. According to Peprah et al. ( 2017 ), social protection programmes have the capacity to empower the poor with economically productive livelihood assets that transform and move them move out of the extremely poor class, their increasing purchasing power being key to their prosperity and payment for solid wastes disposal.

5.2 Practical implications, limitations and directions for future research

While this study does have limitations, it is important to emphasize that the limitations do not impact the validity of the present findings. This finding emphasized that the practice of waste generation and factors influencing the payment for solid waste disposal among the South African is still inadequate, since food waste is being combined with other household garbage. This work serves as a foundational dataset in a location where scarce research has been prioritized in this area. Although certain components of this study are significant, additional on children and teenagers as participants, as well as a more comprehensive questionnaire that addresses specific health consequences. More so, the study is constrained to the South Africa, which necessitates a broader Southern African Development Communities (SADC) nations to extrapolate the bigger picture of the findings. Likewise, the survey questions relied on self-reporting, which might be susceptible to bias, also the dataset requires additional variables to analyze cultural elements, in addition to economic, sociological, and environmental issues. Furthermore, using questionnaires in conjunction with secondary data in future research will improve the assessment and verification of a statistically robust framework and hypotheses for a more robust and representative report. It is therefore advisable to do further research by observing households or waste collection stations in order to supplement the survey. Furthermore, the connection between socio-economic characteristics within households and their impact on health outcomes was restricted herewith. Subsequent research should investigate this issue in order to develop more targeted and long-lasting public awareness initiatives. Finally, employing instrumental variable models and sensitivity analysis for evaluation of future study would be a superior choice to address any potential selective bias that may arise throughout the research analysis as well as the impact and practical implications of the study.

6 Conclusion, recommendation, and policy implications

In South Africa, households are at environmental and health risk as a result of poor waste collection service delivery. Using a nationally representative South African survey dataset, the complexities of the factors influencing household’s solid waste generation and disposals were unravelled. The study found that 52.45% of households pay for solid waste disposal, and access to new technologies, including political will, the allocation of adequate resources and therefore appropriate services, water interruptions and poor environmental sanitation.Where they are available, ineffective and irregular waste collection services results in improper and illegal waste disposals and littering (leaving rubbish anywhere). These inappropriate waste practices led to associated refuse dump environmental problems.The main sources of households waste generation were paper and cardboard boxes, glass/glass bottles, plastic/plastic bags and/or plastic bottles and metal/aluminum cans. The study applied Principal Component Regression of factors influencing the households waste generation, with many of their socio-economic and livelihood assets variable being statistically significant. Likewise, the Probit regression model found that solid waste generation and disposal was greatly determined by their socio-economic and asset portfolio, such as financial, physical and human assets, which are intangible but regarded as significant indicators by the two models. Household’s solid waste generation and disposal must therefore be seen in the light of both consumption—utilization and investments assets as their livelihood assets have a tangible effect on their waste generation and payment for disposal. The findings further stressed the need for the government to enhance the wellbeing of the citizenry through capacity development and skill building programs, such as social protection programmes. Clearer guidelines and strategies could also help to inform decision-making and public health campaigns to reduce exposure to uncollected waste. Ensuring political will and enhancing the capacity of government institutions through policy-making, regulatory, technical and managerial capacity of the local authorities who are responsible for their implementaiton is a major dimension to explore if South Africa is to achieve the SDG 3-good health and wellbeing; 6- clean water and sanitation and 11- sustainable cities and communities.

Data availability

Accessible upon request.

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Abiodun Olusola Omotayo

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Omotayo, A.O. Investigating the drivers of solid waste generation and disposal: evidence from South Africa. Environ Dev Sustain (2024).

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Effectiveness of Solid Waste Management

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The researcher was full heartedly thankful especially to God which guide and give intelligence and the strength to finish and to conduct this study. Thank you so much Lord for the guidance and support throughout the study. For their researcher adviser Ms. Vanessa Lachica which gives an infinite understanding, eternal support and help. And also an enthusiastic teaching to teach the right and good skills for them to finish this study. Thank you so much teacher for always being good to us. For their parents who always giving their moral support, especially for the financial needs to finish this study. Thank you so much. And to their classmate who always guide and teach for some information and share some knowledge to finish this study. And also for giving their needs and for helping their classmate for the correction. Thank you so much. Lastly, for the respondents who answered the question in the interview constructed by the researcher. Thank you so much for the kindness.

hypothesis of solid waste management


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