Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts of Poor Paper Management at Higher Education Institutions in Ethiopia: Evidence From Hawassa University

Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts of Poor Paper Management at Higher Education Institutions in Ethiopia: Evidence From Hawassa University

Akalewold Fedilu Mohammed (School of Governance and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia), Abdurahman Hamza Ibrahim (School of Governance and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia) and Degwale Gebeyehu Belay (School of Governance and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJRCM.2018040102

Abstract

Currently there are 34 universities in Ethiopia which enrolled hundreds of thousands of students which generated large volume of waste paper a year. Therefore, this article has an objective of assessing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of poor paper management at higher education institutions of Ethiopia with a particular focus on Hawassa University. The findings of the study revealed that a large volume of paper is consumed for different academic purposes. Due to the poor management of paper consumption as well as poor waste management practices, the university faced socio-economic and environmental problems. By 2015/16 academic year a total of 94,025 reams of paper were used at Hawassa University. This has created a large volume of waste paper at offices, which resulted in unpleasant working environment. Incineration is the only means of waste paper disposal, which created environmental pollution and health risks to the university community. Moreover, the university also lost a significant amount of money which would have been gained from selling to paper recycling industries.
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Introduction

Increases in literacy, GNP and population in developing countries results in continued growth of paper and paperboard consumption, at a faster rate than in developed countries. Following this consumption level, the waste paper generation is increasing highly, so do the economic and environmental impacts. Hence, the demand for recycling and reduction of the volume of waste paper generated increases as well (Van Beukering and Bouman, 2001).

As it is indicated by Rutgers (2004) cited in Randall (2005), the amount of paper printed in a University with a campus population of ten thousand students is more than one million sheets of paper per month. Correspondingly, paper products make up a large proportion of the solid waste generated by universities, due to their educational and academic endeavours (Modzelewski, 2007).

Paper that does not contain any recycled material is produced from timber (Modzelewski, 2007). A sheet of paper made from wood consumed seventeen watts per hour of electricity (Randall, 2005). It asserts that paper production leads to forest depletion and consumption of energy. Moreover, it has a significant negative impact on biodiversity (Armstrong et al., 1998). However, paper and paper products are regarded as cheap products, often undervalued, and much paper is wasted with no or minimal re-use.

In addition, paper consumption does not only refer to the paper used either for printing or photocopying but also the costs of printing, storage, transporting, disposal and recycling (Randall, 2005). Considering this, formulating comprehensive solid waste management policy and programs in the university based on the generating source are imperative (Armijo de Vega et al., 2008).

Like many developing countries, there is an increasing consumption of paper in Ethiopia. When we compare the consumption level, the education sector especially universities and colleges are the primarily users of papers. This can be explained by the rising number of students who are enrolled every year in these sectors. Currently, Ethiopia has thirty-four public universities. The government has also planned to build eleven additional universities in the second growth and transformational Plan (GTP-II) of 2015/2016-2019/2020. This expansion brings high paper consumption as well as large volume of waste paper generation which leads to environmental problems if there is no proper consumption and waste paper management. Though it is very difficult to find a study conducted on paper consumption and waste paper generation of these universities, one can estimate that every year the consumption and waste paper generation can increase at an alarming rate due to the increasing number of students.

Therefore, this study is aimed at assessing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of poor paper management by taking Hawassa University as a case study.

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