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Waste management and a circular economy

Establishing integrated urban waste management systems


Female worker in a recycling company in Colombia

Populations in major cities in developing and emerging countries are rising rapidly and consumer habits are changing. This is exacerbating problems linked to waste. Some two billion tonnes of municipal waste accumulates worldwide each year. In towns and cities alone, waste volumes are set to double by the year 2025, rising from 1.3 to 2.6 billion tonnes a year.

In many countries, waste management is the least developed of the municipal services on offer. This is often due to a lack of know-how, clear responsibilities and funding.

New Urban Agenda

The New Urban Agenda adopted by the United Nations in October 2016 calls for universal access to sustainable waste management systems to be guaranteed in urban settings. For this to be achieved, wide-ranging investments will need to be made in sustainable infrastructure, and municipal decision-makers will need to be supported.

In order to develop integrated urban waste management systems, the technical, legal and institutional issues will need to be addressed together. Only then will it be possible to make use of the potential that exists both for environmental and climate action, and for creating jobs and training opportunities.

Care must be taken to ensure that the many waste collectors who until now have been part of the labour force working outside the formal market are integrated into value chains.


German activities

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports its partner countries in drawing up waste management strategies, training skilled staff, and monitoring the collection, recycling and disposal of waste. The BMZ also promotes public awareness raising.

In order to increase the recycling rate, adapted solutions are being developed for the separate collection of recyclable resources and organic waste. The BMZ also supports its partners in their efforts to realise cost-covering funding of waste management schemes, for instance by developing pricing models or by introducing return and deposit systems.

The BMZ supports funding instruments that can be used to help establish suitable structures for waste collection, recycling and disposal. Interactions with other sectors are also taken into account. For example, protecting groundwater resources is an aspect that needs to be borne in mind when planning landfill sites.


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