Sustainable waste management

Over 80% of Local Governments (LGs) worldwide are responsible for residential solid waste collection within their territory [1]. However, solid waste management is a great challenge from an organizational, technical, and financial perspective, and municipalities are often overburden by the task. This Package focuses on the processes which the LGs can undertake to promote sustainable waste management in their communities through a long-term approach called Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) (glossary).
A specific Solution is dedicated to the overall ISWM process, giving an overarching perspective in its different dimensions, including technical, political, institutional, social, economic, and financial. The remaining Solutions zoom-in on a particular component of the ISWM process which due to its relevance and/or complexity can be seen as separate process. These Solutions should be implemented in tandem with the ISWM Solution, and should take into account the local context.

Motivation / Relevance

Cities are facing increasing quantities and variety of wastes generated, including hazardous wastes, due to population growth, industrialization, economic growth, and higher GDP shares, particularly in emerging and transition economies [3]. In developing countries, it is common for municipalities to spend 20-50% of their available budget on Solid Waste Management (SWM) [4], and still they are unable to provide reliable and universal services in their territory, at high costs for the society, the environment, and the economy.

ISWM has great potential to enhance economic, ecological and social progress in cities, namely by maximizing resource conservation and resource efficiency, generating employment and contributing to a green economy [6] [7]. It also offers the possibility to reduce the operational costs of waste management.

On the other hand, improper waste management results in proliferation of pests and diseases, foul odors and poor air quality, contamination of soil, surface water and aquifers including of those used for water supply. It causes additional difficulties in densely populated areas where the space for waste disposal is scarce, and where the trash increases the risk of flooding due to obstruction of drainage systems. The contamination of the environment as result of uncontrolled waste disposal hampers economic development [7] and citizens` awareness to the negative impacts on health and the environment is growing [5].

Main impacts

  • Reduction of the amount of waste disposed
  • Improve urban hygiene and quality of life of the population [2][3][5]
  • Protection of the environment and of freshwater sources [3][5]
  • Efficient use and conservation of natural resources.
  • Reduce health and safety hazards [2][3][5]
  • Contribution to a green economy [6][7], including through poverty alleviation and reducing child labor [9]
  • Improve the image of the city and of the local government [7] [8].
  • Increase the availability of land for productive purposes by minimizing the need for disposal. [7]
  • Climate change mitigation, both directly by minimizing GHG emissions from waste disposal, and indirectly due to replacement of raw materials and fossil fuels. [10]

Benefits and Co-Benefits

  • More effective and efficient  waste management operations and services [2] [3]
  • Maximize percentage of MSW collected, treated and disposed of in a hygienic and environmentally sound way. [2][3][5]
  • Maximize percentage of MWS reused as raw materials or as energy source.[10]
  • Job creation and employment opportunities for low-skilled workers [7]


Low hanging fruit

Additional Information