Karachi produces more than 12,000 tons of solid waste each day, which has been increasing continuously with time due to changing lifestyles and increased consumerism; providing a constantly useful energy resource.

All the organic and inorganic waste produced in Karachi – which rots on roads and streets – if used for power generation purposes, can add more than 200MW to the system.

Solid waste management experts report that around 5,000 tons of the total waste can be used for generating around 250 MW of electricity.

Presently, the electricity demand in Karachi hovers around 2,600MW per day while the supply remains 2,100MW. Such small-scale and indigenous fuel-based generation plants would bridge the gap on one hand and save precious foreign exchange on the other.

But the dilemma, let alone treatment of waste into energy, even a week after Eid-ul-Adha, the residents of the ‘city of lights’ feel disgusted while commuting from one place to other. This scenario gives an impression that the city of 200 million people is surviving without a proper administration.

The removal of the city district government gave birth to a number of sanitation and administrative issues. On the other hand, plans pertaining to the recycling of solid waste and electricity generation, which were in an advanced stage, were shelved.

Regardless of the political party heading the city district government, the system introduced by Pervez Musharraf served the interests of the cosmopolitan city. Countless activities and opportunities were generated in solid waste management alone.

City District Government Karachi (CDGK) back in 2007 had planned waste-to-energy plants at Surjani Town and Hub Landfill sites in Karachi, which could generate 100 MW utilizing the municipal waste while two more sites were to be identified where equal capacity plants could be installed. The project was in advance stage even a consultant has hired an investment of $220 million had been calculated. This is a much painful casualty following the removal of the local government.

Later in 2013, a consultant was contacted and reports were prepared for the treatment of the city’s municipal waste, but the project was put aside.

Waste-to-energy technology is a common process now used in many parts of the world as it provides an effective waste management and a power source.

Electricity shortage is the biggest problem of Karachi and the RDF plant could have been a landmark project as taking inspirations the K-Electric Limited (then KESC) had also initiated feasibility studies to set up a bioelectricity generation plant utilizing livestock waste, which is dumped into the sea.

Solid waste management has become a nightmare in Pakistan. Municipalities are equipped with centuries-old and outdated methods as they lift only 60 percent of the waste generated in cities.

In the absence of professionalism and proper waste disposal system, most of the garbage lifted is crudely dumped in open spaces. These dumps attract mosquitoes, rats, cockroaches, houseflies, birds as well as stray animals. Eventually, numerous diseases spread which badly affect the health of city inhabitants.

Our authorities and power utilities need to take swift action in order to realize the waste-to-energy potential in Pakistan.
Credits: Samaa