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Status of municipal solid waste generation and disposal in Nigeria

Charles Chidozie Nnaji (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




This paper examined the current status of municipal solid waste management across Nigeria. The core aspects covered are generation, characterization, collection, scavenging, open dumping, disposal and environmental implications of poor solid waste management. The purpose of this paper is to present a comprehensive overview of the current state of municipal solid waste management in Nigeria.


This study was executed by a combination of an extensive literature search and field study. Solid waste generation rates for 31 Nigerian cities were obtained from literature. In addition, characteristics of municipal solid waste from 26 Nigerian cities were also obtained from literature. Other aspects such as characterization of solid waste obtained from final dumpsite and heavy metals accumulation in solid waste dumpsites were undertaken first hand.


Solid waste generation rate was found to vary from 0.13 kg/capita/day in Ogbomosho to 0.71 kg/capita/day in Ado-Ekiti. Factors affecting solid waste generation rates were identified. Typically, food waste was found to constitute close to 50 percent of overall municipal solid waste in Nigerian cities. This study shows that the rate of generation of plastics, water proof materials and diapers has assumed an upward trend. Due to the dysfunctional state of many municipal waste management authorities, many cities have been overrun by open dumps. For instance, more than 50 percent of residents of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria and Ughelli in southern Nigeria dispose of their waste in open dumps. Indiscriminate disposal of waste has also resulted in the preponderance of toxic heavy metals in agricultural soils and consequent bioaccumulation in plants as well as groundwater contamination.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation of this research is municipal waste management authorities do not have relevant data. Hence, there was heavy reliance on published materials. The status of waste management in Nigeria is very deplorable and therefore poses serious threats to public and environmental health. There is urgent need for both government and individuals to adopt holistic and sustainable waste management strategies in order to safeguard public/environmental health.

Practical implications

Findings from this paper can form a veritable resource for the formulation and implementation of sustainable municipal solid waste management framework and strategies in Nigeria.


While most studies on municipal solid waste management in Nigeria are focussed on selected cities of interest, this particular study cuts across most cities of Nigeria in order to present a broader and holistic view of municipal solid waste management in Nigeria. The paper has also unraveled core municipal solid waste management challenges facing Nigerian cities.



Nnaji, C.C. (2015), "Status of municipal solid waste generation and disposal in Nigeria", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 53-71.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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