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Consumption, Solid Waste Generation and Water Pollution in Pinga Oya Catchment area


MTM Mahees ,

Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, LK
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C Sigayoganathan,

Department of Agricultural Extension, University of Peradeniya, LK
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BFA Basnayake

Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Peradeniya, LK
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This study focuses on the effects of socioeconomic and political factors in solid waste generation and water pollution in the catchments of Pinga Oya, a tributary of the Mahaweli river. The direct solid waste disposal into water bodies and the untreated dumping sites are supposed to be some of the major causes of water pollution in Sri Lanka. The main objectives of this paper were to determine and evaluate the causal link between consumption pattern and solid waste generation and to understand the underlining socio-economic stories of waste disposal and their link with water pollution. Semi-structured household questionnaires (200) and in-depth interviews with key informants were used to collect quantitative and qualitative data from Pinga Oya watershed areas. The samples were selected on stratified basis and purposively and data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The secondary information was mostly collected from the sociological literature. The consumption patterns of people often determine the nature and amount of solid waste generation based on their livelihood, class and culture. Here, the symbolic consumption which has become the life style of urban middle and upper class people, promotes a “consumer society” with the influence of monthly household income and cultural ritual. As a result of higher social value given for mass consumption in this global economic order, people frequently consume unwanted goods to achieve symbolic value and cultural satisfaction rather than limiting their consumption to actual necessities. This study revealed that there was a positive relationship between the monthly household income and consumption pattern and people with the higher monthly household income (>Rs.25,000) generate more solid waste daily (1.5-2 kg) than low income groups. The domestic solid waste generation was mainly influenced by weekly food consumption (R2= 0.61). The family size and gender relationship of consumer behaviour were also found significant in determining solid waste generation. This consumption culture that generates more and more solid waste especially in urban social environment influences the quality of water and aggravates the crisis of water pollution. Therefore, water pollution created by solid waste disposal is not only a problem limited to natural scientists to solve but also a social problem caused by many socio-economic and cultural practices of people.

Key words: Consumerism; Waste generation; Water pollution.


Tropical Agricultural Research 22(3) (2011) 239-250

How to Cite: Mahees, M., Sigayoganathan, C. and Basnayake, B., 2011. Consumption, Solid Waste Generation and Water Pollution in Pinga Oya Catchment area. Tropical Agricultural Research, 22(3), pp.239–250. DOI:
Published on 17 Oct 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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