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Solid Waste Management in World's Cities

Posted on 04 May 2010 by verele

UN Habitat has recently published a book with the title " Solid Waste Management in the World Cities" (, written in cooperation with WASTE advisers on urban environment and development.


The book is the result of a combined effort of more than 25 professionals on solid waste from developing, transitional, and developed countries, and wishes to raise and address questions of policy, good and bad practice, sustainable financing, and the like.

The aim of the book was to reflect the years of experience of a global community of practice working on solid waste management from the point of Integrated Sustainable Waste Management, or “ISWM”. This intention was reflected in the approach and method to producing the book: the Expert Group Meetings brought together a large group of international solid waste and recycling specialists. Many of the experts already had a relationship to the CWG, the Collaborative Working Group on Solid Waste Management in Low and Middle-Income Countries, a global practitioners’ platform which owes its existence to Habitat, the World Bank, and other donors who co-financed the “Ittingen Meeting” in 1996, at which the concept of ISWM was first articulated. In that sense the Third Global Report completed a cycle of thought, experimentation, documentation and reflection in which UN-Habitat contributed. The project team also clearly articulated their ambition to use the book to move ISWM into a new phase, and to facilitate an improvement in practice in waste management and recycling in not only low- and middle-income countries, Habitat’s core constituency, but in higher-income countries as well.

20 Cities The main empirical basis for the book consists of 15-20 page presentation reports on urban solid waste and recycling systems in 20 cities from all continents. To the surprise of some of the contributors, we decided to create one framework and sets of quantitative benchmarks that could be applied to cities in low- middle- and high-income countries, and could support understanding of processes and drivers that affect them all. The city research was designed to deliver insights into:

  • the interplay between solid waste and recycling and issues such as economic development, environmental protection, a good business climate, gender equality, resource conservation, and many other issues
  • ways in which cities can achieve high recycling and composting rates and reduce amounts of waste going to disposal:
  • The dynamics created by policy drivers, and the extent to which these work in the same or different ways in developing, transitional, and developed countries,
  • the role and impact of the global informal sector in solid waste and recycling, and why and how informal recycling systems can be understood, legitimised, and strengthened
  • how choice of technology and fee systems affects system sustainability good and not so good practices and experiences in the cities and what can be learned from them, and the “stories” for each of the cities.


The book can be ordered at


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