Waste Characterization as an Element of Household Waste Management Operations: A Case Study in Limbe, Cameroon

Lawrence Oben Mbeng*, 1, Paul S. Phillips2, Roy Fairweather2
1 The University of Douala, Institute of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at Yabassi, P.O. Box 7236, Bassa Douala, Cameroon
2 School of Science and Technology, Newton Building, Avenue Campus, University of Northampton, Northampton, NN2 6JD, UK

© 2012 Mbeng et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Douala, Institute of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at Yabassi, P.O. Box 7236, Bassa Douala, Cameroon; Tel: (+237) 70 03 62 24; E-mail:


The development of sustainable waste management practice in Cameroon requires that waste characterization, composition and arisings, are used as a tool for waste planning and practice for household waste. Therefore to obtain accurate data that will drive improved waste management planning and operations in Limbe - Cameroon- a waste characterization study was undertaken, in a case study area (February and April of 2008), to underpin future strategy and planning. The study took account of seasonality - a vital issue for Cameroon. To take account of societal issues, the study included the high (HIRA), medium (MIRA) and low income residential areas (LIRA), for household waste in the case study area in Limbe. In the study, it was found that waste generation per capita was low for both seasons (dry and wet), HIRA (0.66 kg and 0.76 kg), MIRA (0.58 kg and 0.65 kg) and LIRA (0.53 kg and 0.60 kg), compared to cities in other developing countries in Africa. It was found that the waste stream was predominantly purtrescible and contained few recyclable materials. This study has demonstrated that the characterization and determination of composition and arisings, of household waste is the first step required for the successful design of sustainable waste management strategy and practice.

Keywords: Cameroon, household waste, waste characterization, composting, recycling, reuse.