Integrated sustainable waste management in developing countries

D.C. Wilson, C.A. Velis, L. Rodic-Wiersma

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademicpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses the lens of ‘integrated sustainable waste management’ to examine how cities in developing countries have been tackling their solid waste problems. The history of related concepts and terms is reviewed, and ISWM is clearly differentiated from integrated waste management, used mostly in the context of technological integration in developed countries. Instead, integrated sustainable waste management examines both the physical components (collection, disposal and recycling) and the governance aspects (inclusivity of users and service providers; financial sustainability; coherent, sound institutions underpinned by proactive policies). The data show that performance has improved significantly over the last 10 years. Levels of collection coverage and controlled disposal of 95% in middle-income and 50% in low-income cities are already commonplace. Recycling rates of 20–30% are achieved by the informal sector in many lower income countries, at no direct cost to the city – presenting a major opportunity for all key stakeholders if the persistent challenges can be resolved. The evidence suggests that efficient, effective and affordable systems are tailored to local needs and conditions, developed with direct involvement of service beneficiaries. Despite the remaining challenges, evidence of recent improvements suggests that sustainable solid waste and resources management is feasible for developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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