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close this bookGATE - 1/93 - Solid Waste Management (GTZ GATE, 1993, 52 p.)
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View the documentThe North - Not a good example to follow
View the documentGTZ Waste management projects: Experience and prospects
View the documentHow to make solid waste management financially sustainable
View the documentScavengers and recycling in Indonesia
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The North - Not a good example to follow

GTZ Waste Management Projects: Avoiding the Mistakes Made by the Industrialized Countries

For the waste management projects run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), there are two important starting points: first, promoting awareness among community decision-makers and broad sections of the population; and second, getting local private-enterprise waste management schemes accepted. One of the main objectives is to try, through careful dialogue with partners, to prevent the mistakes made by the industrialized countries being copied in the Third World. Peter Bosse-Brekenfeld discussed this with Klaus Erbel, Head of GTZ's "Water, Waste Management and Resource Protection" division.

gate: What would you see as the main problems connected with waste disposal in the Third World?

Erbel: One of the main problems is the terrific rate of urban growth in developing countries. In the past 40 years the urban populations of some countries have quadrupled - a growth rate that in Europe would be utterly inconceivable.

One consequence of this has been illegal housing, with slums and squatters areas springing up on the outskirts of towns and cities. These settlements usually have no proper refuse disposal systems, because the municipal authorities don't recognize the illegal settlements and certainly don't want to encourage them.

A second problem is the lack of awareness of the health hazard that results from inadequate waste disposal. As long as municipal authorities and some sections of the population are of the opinion that refuse can simply be left where it is - in the streets, in courtyards and between buildings, it stands to reason that the government won't give priority to waste disposal. Money will be invested in productive areas - trade and industry, for example, the power supply network and perhaps also water supplies. Everything connected with disposal will be put on a back burner and allocated a smaller budget.

As a result, the disposal rate in many Third World cities is only between 30 and 50 per cent. In other words, in many cities more than half the refuse is simply left where it is, or dumped into canals, rivers, lakes or the sea. That isn't disposal, it's simply shifting the problem, with serious consequences - pollution becomes a cycle. Inappropriate refuse disposal can lead to contamination of the groundwater. This in turn affects drinking water reserves, and municipalities are unable to treat the water as necessary.

Problem cycle

gate: That sounds like a vicious circle. Is there any order of priority in this mountain of problems?

Erbel: It's very hard to say which is the central problem. One problem leads to another, and the second to the third. Perhaps the best place to start is with the lack of awareness. The mayor and the inhabitants of a city must be made aware of the health hazards cholera, for instance - and the almost irreparable environmental damage that can result from neglecting waste disposal. Take the example I mentioned a minute ago: once the groundwater reserves are contaminated it's impossible to purify the water easily, in an ordinary sewage plant. It takes years, if not decades, by natural exchange processes.

Unless this awareness is created, we in Technical Cooperation will be talking to deaf ears. If that happens, project activities to remove the waste and establish orderly landfill sites will be noted with approval and supported. But if there is no awareness of the problems it is very unlikely that they will be continued when the project ends. Incidentally, the target group for information and awareness building includes not only decision-makers but also broad sections of the population. The place to start is in schools. Where subjects like environmental protection and hygiene are concerned, children can certainly influence their parents' behavior.

gate: Piles of rubbish can't very easily escape people's attention. So it's rather hard to understand this lack of awareness. Isn't it also just a question of shortage of money?

Erbel: Of course, simply creating awareness isn't enough if the necessary financial resources aren't available. But the amount of money and know-how needed varies from city to city, region to region and village to village. If the inhabitants are either unable or unwilling to find substantial amounts of money for waste disposal, then appropriate - and often also low-cost - technologies must be applied. In many a Third World city, handcarts or donkey carts still represent an acceptable and rational solution, especially in slum areas, where the streets are narrow or only just passable.

Not a good example

gate: The industrialized countries have only started using ecologically sounder waste management methods in the past few years. How much of their experience can be applied in the Third World?
Erbel: On no account should we create the impression in the developing world that we in the industrialized countries can serve as an example in every respect. We have made a lot of mistakes. In Germany after the Second World War, a very bad example was set with the "throwaway" attitude. Fortunately, we have in the meanwhile realized the error of our ways. With the greatest possible care, and without being overbearing, we must try, through dialogue with our partners in the Third World, to prevent our mistakes being imitated there.

If the waste avoidance and recycling principles are applied early enough, a Third World city may be spared one problem or another. In Germany the recycling principle has been fully accepted, at least in theory. We have separate containers for paper, glass and tin cans. More and more organic matter is being recycled in composting plants. Measures of this kind are particularly important for developing countries, because recovery of reusable substances is even more Important to them than it is to us, for economic reasons.

gate: What help can GTZ offer in the field of waste management?

Erbel: To quote an example, we advise our partners in municipal authorities that a correct solution for waste disposal is decentralization and mainly private enterprise. Decentralization means that instead of the government or the municipal authorities being responsible for disposal, responsibility can lie with local committees formed in the various districts, for instance. These committees could award a contract for waste disposal in the district in question to a small private entrepreneur. He would finance the cost of the equipment needed with money raised on the money market.

This principle works in practice in a whole series of Third World towns and cities. The inhabitants approve of contracts being awarded to small, motivated and efficient private firms. They pay them regularly and are proud that their district has become much cleaner. GTZ's job is to encourage private initiatives of this kind - as an organizational process - by giving advice, plus a certain amount of financial assistance to get them started. The technical advice is not limited to waste collection. It also covers disposal, for instance at orderly landfill sites.

Government supervision

Technical Cooperation cannot and will not finance and organize waste disposal for entire towns or cities out of its own funds. The principle of the pilot project must be applied with the aim of achieving a multiplication effect. In this or that district of a city a demonstration is given of how the problem can be got under control. Our hope is that the methods used will then be copied in other districts.

gate: What is the role of government authorities in this concept?
Erbel: The role of state or municipal authorities should be limited to what is absolutely necessary. We have repeatedly found that, in the long run, neither the municipality nor the state can raise enough money to effectively maintain infrastructure measures of the non-productive kind. But the public authorities must always fulfill a monitoring function. They must ensure not only that the profit made by private-enterprise contractors is fair, but also that the waste is disposed of in an ecologically sound manner. Naturally, with some private contractors there is a tendency to maximize takings, and dispose of the waste in the cheapest possible way.

The state or municipal authorities delegate partial responsibility, but in the final analysis they must retain overall responsibility. If something goes wrong, or one of the contractors abuses the waste disposal contract as a monopoly, the authorities must give that firm a "rap on the knuckles". This is why we recommend engaging private contractors only for limited periods - say three to five years - and then putting the contract out to tender again.

gate: What's the situation like as regards financing systems? If the "polluter pays" principle is to be adhered to, problems are likely to occur, especially in slums, that is, districts with a high proportion of very poor inhabitants.

Erbel: Problems always arise when people are asked to make a contribution which they think is disproportionately high or which they simply can't afford. Our answer to this is that the technology used must be in keeping with the ability to pay. It is remarkable how willing even poor inhabitants of slum districts are to pay regularly when they see that their surroundings are becoming appreciably cleaner. The amounts involved aren't very high - the equivalent of about two packets of cigarettes or a bottle of beer a week. People are happy to pay this price to enable their children to play in a more or less clean environment instead of on heaps of rubbish.

In many industrialized countries a bad example was set with the “throwaway” attitude. Cartoon ED. Bern

Toxic waste

gate: Export of toxic waste from the industrialized countries to the Third World and the poorer countries of eastern Europe represent a major global problem. This practice must undermine your efforts, at least in the mind of your target groups. In development aid you advocate sensible recycling concepts, but there are traffickers in toxic waste from the North practicing precisely the opposite of what you preach. To what extent are you confronted by this problem in your projects?

Erbel: As I already mentioned, we have no reason to be self-righteous, on the principle that "we're doing everything right and you're doing almost everything wrong. Just copy our technologies and strategies and everything will be all right". Especially as regards the disposal of toxic waste by exporting it, the western countries are anything but a good example. Whether fortunately or otherwise, we at GTZ have nothing to do with the problems of toxic waste exports from industrialized to development countries. So far, there have obviously been no applications in the context of Technical Cooperation for assistance in coping with such problems.

Another problems that we're now starting to tackle is disposal of the Third World's own toxic waste. Developing countries have neither the financial nor the organizational means of getting this waste out of the country. They have to find means of disposing of it themselves - either near the factory which generates the toxic waste or at least within the country. In this connection, incidentally, the "polluter pays" principle is far more applicable than with municipal waste. Otherwise financially unsustainable disposal schemes are the result, with potentially critical consequences for public health.

Improved project sustainability needed

gate: As a field of development cooperation, waste management is still a fairly recent development. Is it possible to tell whether the projects GTZ is promoting are sustainable?

Erbel: I won't beat about the bush the lack of sustainability in the waste management sector is a serious problem. We would be the last to claim that this objective has already been achieved in all our projects. But it's impossible to say definitively whether a project is sustainable until two to three years after completion of the measure. Almost all the measures we have implemented in this field are still running.

The reasons why sustainability of projects in the waste management sector is such a big problem are as follows: first, due to the weakness on the executing agencies in our partner countries; second, as already mentioned, due to low priority given to waste management; third, due to the still rather low level of awareness of the problem, with the result that people are reluctant to pay for waste disposal; and fourth, due to the relatively low level of technological know-how in waste management, in particular as regards landfill.

So far, the only concept which I am sure has a very good chance of being sustainable is organization of waste disposal on a private-enterprise, decentralized basis. There are some models which work very well. We know of cooperatives which after two or three years are able to buy more machines and tools from their earnings and thus expand their service. Above all in districts on the outskirts of cities, they enjoy widespread popular approval. If the target group, that is, the people who generate the waste, are prepared to pay for waste disposal there is really no reason to doubt that a simple, decentral concept of this kind will be sustainable.


Explosive growth of the cities, a lack of awareness of the problems, and a shortage of financial resources are the causes of the low level of refuse disposal in the Third World. There are hardly any functioning waste management systems in these countries: One key starting point for GTZ projects is in promoting awareness among municipal decision-makers. Privately and decentrally organized projects are a success. But the Head of Division responsible at GTZ stresses in the interview that the industrialized countries have no reason to be self-righteous: they themselves have only recently drawn the obvious conclusions from the results of the previous throw-away mentality.


L'explosion des villes, l'inconscience des probls ainsi que le manque de moyens financiers vent a l'origine de la faible part accorde a des dets dans les villes du Tiers Monde. Une bonne gestion des dets n'existe pratiquement pas dans ces pays. Une approche importante des projets de la GTZ dans la sensibilisation des dnteurs de pouvoirs dsionnels a l'elon communal. Les projets prives et
dntralisont des tares prometteurs. Dans l'interview, le responsable de la GTZ souligne cependant que les pays industrialises n'ont aucune raison de se comporter en pharisiens, car ils n'ont tire que rmment les enseignements de cette idogie de la consommation a outrance qui et ait encore la leur trier.


El crecimiento de las ciudades, la falta de conciencia en lo relativo a los problemas existentes y los escasos recursos financieros son causes de la insuficiente de basuras en las ciudades del Tercer Mundo. La gestiona de desechos pricamente no funciona en esos paises. Una de los principales metas iniciales de los proyectos de la GTZ consiste en sensibilizar al respecto a los encargados de tomar decisiones en las autoridades comunales. Han tenido to los proyectos organizados por particulares y de forma descentralizada. No obstante, el jefe del departamento competente de la GTZ subraya en la entrevista que los pas industrializados no tienen motivo pare infatuarse, puesto que desde trace apenas poco tiempo se han sacado allas co- nsecuencias de la antigua mentalidad derrochadora.

GTZ Waste management projects: Experience and prospects

by Dieter Mutz *

One hundred years ago, Germany's refuse disposal problems resembled those of many of today's developing countries. It is only in the last few years that refuse avoidance has taken on paramount significance, although it has to be said that this principle is still not given sufficient attention. Since the end of the 1970s, the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) has been supporting waste management projects. In this article, Dieter Mutz summarizes the experience gained from these projects.

"Today, 99 per cent of our household rubbish is collected in specially large pits where it remains for weeks and months, begins to rot as a result of mixture with damp kitchen waste and thus provides the best pure culture for bacteria of all kinds: better than any bacteriological institute could prepare". This description, by Klinner and Welzel, characterizes the refuse problems in Germany at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. The situation they describe is comparable with that of many of today's developing countries. Today, as in Germany a century ago, countless illegal refuse tips in conurbations lead to intolerable hygienic conditions which, for example, give rise to cholera epidemics - in Peru three years ago, in Hamburg in 1892.

Furthermore, the situation of Germany's refuse collectors (rag and bone men) at the beginning of this century is comparable with that of refuse processors in Asia or Latin America in our present decade. H describes the situation at the turn of the century as follows: "Unlicensed refuse sorting and unlicensed scavenging were quite common on European refuse tips at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Once the refuse carts had unloaded on the remote refuse tips, women would move in and carefully comb the refuse for useable articles, filling the material they had found into baskets and sacks. This work would be carried out from 6 a.m to 6 p.m, with a short break at midday. As a rule, the women would be accompanied by pigs grubbing through the refuse for food. The material they found had either to be delivered to the municipal authorities or to entrepreneurs who had a monopoly on the sorted material. At the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, a Cologne businessman paid 6000 marks annually for the right to sort through refuse. The scavengers themselves received only starvation wages for their hard work."

In Germany, the regulated collection and transport of refuse began after 1920. In the spirit of technological progress, experts concentrated first on developing improved systems for the collection and emptying of refuse bins and on the construction of refuse vehicles. In spite of continued warnings from public health experts as regards the health risk connected with the uncontrolled dumping of waste, this method of "refuse disposal" remained unchanged in the Federal Republic of Germany until the beginning of the According to 1961 statistics, of the refuse that was collected, 2.2% was burned, 0.82% was composted and 97% dumped in exhausted gravel pits, clay pits, abandoned quarriers or swamps and marshes, most of it without any form of control.

It was only after first successful trials in 1961/62 that the technique of "systematic dumping" or the "controlled landfill" became known and was gradually introduced. Nevertheless, there were still approx. 50,000 illegal refuse tips in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1970. None of these could claim to provide controlled permanent disposal and none provided any protection for natural resources (water, flora, fauna, etc.).

In Germany, it was not until 1975 that the final transition was made from the traditional form of refuse disposal to waste manage meet. In that year, the Federal Government introduced its waste management programme, while in 1986 it passed the law governing the avoidance and disposal of refuse. The main aim of this programme was to reduce the quantity of refuse, to explore in depth recycling and processing methods and to dispose of refuse in a systematic way. The uppermost aim of the refuse law is the avoidance of refuse. Polluting substances should not be produced in the first place. The second best solution is the processing of waste material. Dumping is only mentioned as the third alternative. This was the foundation stone for the introduction of a future-oriented waste management concept, which has been further developed in the first draft of the "recycling management law" (Kreislaufwirtschafts-Gesetz) of November 1992.

Until well into the 1960s, refuse disposal was organized privately in most Third World cities. The waste, which was almost completely organic, was used as animal feed and for the production of compost. Because there was still very little industrialization, any problems with hazardous waste were negligible. There are four reasons why this traditional system of waste management eventually broke down:

Refuse problems in developing countries

- As a result of rural exodus and improved medical care coupled with a high birth rate, the urban population soared. The infrastructure could not keep pace with population growth, and with the increase in refuse volume that went with it. The result was more and more illegal refuse tips in built-up areas and dumps on river banks.

- The tradition of self-help that had worked well in the manageable, socially controlled village community was not readopted by the new urban inhabitants. What they now expected was help from the anonymous authorities. The refuse producer increasingly lost his sense of responsibility for keeping residential areas clean.

- The city's ability to guarantee sufficient supplies and disposal within a short period of time failed, mainly because of a shortage of finance.

- Incipient industrialization and increased imports of Western consumer goods lead to the appearance on refuse tips of number of substances which led to further pollution and by-products that could not be decomposed. There can be no doubt that the conflict between industrial development without environmental controls and an economic development with ecological conditions was resolved in favor of exclusively economic development.

The experience gained and mistakes made in Europe during the past century can provide important hints when advising about and introducing efficient and effective waste management in developing countries. However, it must be remembered that the technologies of waste disposal and treatment that have meanwhile been tried and tested here cannot be immediately transposed to most developing countries.

Rather, a technology must be developed and applied that is appropriate to the economic and social potential of each particular country. Furthermore, it must be emphasized that waste management is not solely a technical task. The problems of public acceptance, of the responsibility and role of the individual, of the willingness of industry and private households to finance nonpolluting systems and of the implementation of regulations must be given increasingly more attention.

GTZ experience

In 1976, only one year after the above-mentioned federal waste management programme had been passed, Prof. Dr. Tabasaran completed a survey on the reorganization of waste disposal in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. This was the foundation stone for GTZ's first independent "waste management project". This report contains very progressive ideas for its time, as well as concrete suggestions about waste comporting, reclamation of reusable substances and the minimum ecological requirements for a landfill site.

Further local projects followed in Lima in 1984 and in Accra in 1985. Based on initial experience in Nepal, the project concepts were further developed in these programmes and development requirements continually adapted and taken into consideration when planning and organizing new projects. Figure 1 provides a survey of current and planned GTZ projects in the area of waste management.

The following is a summary of the experience gained up to now in certain crucial areas.

Institutional and legal framework

No waste management system can be implemented successfully unless there is an institutional and legal framework providing guidelines for all those involved in it. A further necessary supporting measure is the preparation and periodic updating of waste management plans. These disposal plans must show the various strategies, tasks and levels of responsibility. Expenditure on operation, maintenance and new investments should also be included in these plans. A waste disposal levy should be charged to finance this work. As far as possible, polluters should pay the costs of waste disposal. To motivate trade and industry, economic instruments that promote increased waste reduction and recycling should be developed and put into practice.

Refuse collection

In many Third World cities, "refuse collection" has become the biggest source of public-sector employment. Disposing of waste is often the largest item in the municipal budget. However, it is almost always the case that the number of employees and the budget are in converse relationship to the efficiency of the local government enterprise. As a result of insufficient institutional linkage and non-existent planning, the communes' restricted funds are spend inefficiently.

Refuse collection is the largest item of cost in local waste disposal. One of the most important tasks is therefore to optimize this part of the service and to reduce unit costs as possible. Here, one important principle - and one that is unfortunately all too often ignored is that waste should be handled once only.

Not every city can afford to carry out a house-to-house service. The service provided must be appropriate to the social and, above all, financial means of the inhabitants. Further, refuse collection must not be confined to isolated urban districts but must also include those districts where the socially more disadvantaged members of society live. Making "beneficiaries" aware of the problem and actively including the "polluters" is an important task in waste management.

It is particularly important to consider the possibility of privatizing collection and transport. It should be considered whether private businesses are not able to provide a better quality and/or less costly service.

Recycling, treatment and sanitary disposal

In many developing countries, the recycling of reuseable substances is actively performed by the "informal sector" (see the article by M. Oepen). However, only in a few countries are local and central government offices prepared to support and promote this sector, which usually operates very efficiently. This support could take the form of legalizing private recycling, of including possibilities of sorting out reuseable substances in waste management concepts or of creating improved markets for secondary raw materials.

The contribution of informal recycling to the national Economy should not be underestimated: it creates jobs, saves foreign exchange when importing raw materials, reduces the amount of energy used to manufacture products (as much as 50% energy saving in the case of glass production), reduces the costs of waste treatment and, in the long term, reduces pressure for tip space and thus reduces the environmental risks that might be connected with that pressure.

Apart from the recycling of reuseable substances, composting plays an important role. However, experience in the past few years has shown that compost production cannot be carried out at a profit. Above all, composting has to be regarded as a contribution to the protection of the environment. On the one hand, compost is an important means of improving many tropical soils and, on the other, the unwanted pollution caused by the dumping of organic material (which persists over several decades) is reduced.

Systematic dumping is still the exception in most developing countries and is scarcely considered by those in charge. This is above all due to ignorance of the long-term risks and problems of illegal refuse tips and to the fear of large-scale financial investment. Contacts thus have to be shown that a systematic choice of sites and systematic operation of tips can considerably reduce pollution, and that this can be done at a price that even cities in developing countries can afford.

Hazardous waste

Today, hazardous waste (infectious waste from hospitals, toxic industrial waste) is produced in nearly every developing country. Some of this waste is potentially very harmful to health. As a rule, this waste is dumped illegally, discharged into sewers or buried in landfill sites. Apart from setting up appropriate treatment plants, efforts must particularly concentrate on constructively advice when introducing nonpolluting and less waste-producing production processes.

The local population must be informed of the risks of the illegal disposal of hazardous waste, so that they can act as a pressure group in their dealings with industrial enterprises.


Waste management in developing countries must be practically oriented. Merely publishing surveys, studies and the like will not do justice to the pending problems. This illustrates a basic principle in developing countries: it is better to do something now than to investigate for too long.


Klinner and Wenzel, quoted in G. H, Unser Abfa// aller Zeiten - Eine Kulturgeschichte der Stadtereinigung (Jehle Verlag, Munich 1990)


Waste management is more than merely a technical problem. It must begin with each individual's contribution and promote awareness among decision-makers in industry and government. The author compares the situation in the developing countries with that in Germany a century ago, and summarizes the lessons learned in GTZ projects. An inadequate base in municipal institutions and the absence of private enterprise in refuse collection and transport services reduce the efficiency of waste management. Among other things, the informal sector should be promoted more vigorously.


La gestion des dets est plus qu'un travail technique. Elle doit commencer par la contribution de chaque individu et sensibiliser les responsables industriels et politiques. L'auteur compare la situation des pays en vole de dloppement et celle de l'Allemagne d'il y a cent ans, et un des enseignements tires des projets de la GTZ. Un ancrage institutionnel insuffisant au niveau communal ainsi que l'absence de privatisation de l'enlment et du transport des dets risent l'efficacite la gestion des dets. II faudrait, entre autres, promouvoir davantage le secteur dit informer.


La gestie desechos no es suna cuestiica. Antes bien, debe basarse en la contribucie cada uno y sensibilizar a los encargados de tomar decisiones en la industria y la polca. El autor describe la situacin los pas en v de desarrollo y la compare con la de Alemania trace 100 anos, resumiendo las experiencias hechas en los proyectos de la GTZ. El insuficiente arraigamiento institucional en la polca comunal y la falta de privatizacin lo que se refiere a la recolecci al transporte de basuras, aminoran la eficiencia de la gestie desechos. Entre otros, trace falta fomentar mas el llamado sector informal.

How to make solid waste management financially sustainable

Lessons Learned in a GTZ Project in Nepal

by Eckardt Spreen

For solid waste management systems to be financially sustainable the cost of the service must be kept at very low levels. Public and private budgets are limited, especially in least developed countries. Lessons from a GTZ project in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.

When solid waste management in the Kathmandu Valley started to be reorganized in the second half of the 1970s, staff and advisers of the Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Center (SWMRMC) had to cope with a project area that was in urgent need of sanitation facilities. High densities of urban structures further complicated the task: After Calcutta, the density of Kathmandu is second in traditionally overcrowded Asia.

To imagine the implications of such a density, one must realize that this is not accounted for by high-rise buildings but by compact settlements of the traditional three-storey Newar house. At the beginning of the 1970s, almost every type of a functioning basic sanitary facility was lacking in these densely populated areas. Waste collection and sewage disposal were completely inadequate and only a few toilets were available. Sewage, excrete, waste and filth were lying at road sides and piled up in the courtyards of the towns.

The industrialized countries have a long tradition of well organized waste management. However, their financing systems, organization models and technology are not usually transferable to the entirely different conditions found in the Third World: Germans spend about the per capita income of the Nepal to pay for their solid waste management system! Hence, waste management appropriate for developing countries cannot be copied from the "first world". It has to be adapted to the economic and climatic conditions as well as to settlement patterns and to religious and cultural traditions prevailing in the specific country in question.

On this basis, the work in waste management had to be considered as a pioneer project: The establishment of a regular waste collection and disposal service requires not only technical solutions but poses a number of difficult financial and social problems as well. The success of the project is crucially dependent on the establishment of an efficient administration and on the willingness of the population to participate and to cooperate. To achieve financial sustainability, it is a precondition that the cost of the service is kept at very low levels. Neither public budgets nor private households are able to provide more than the absolute minimum of funds.

To cooperate under these circumstances is difficult- but not impossible. Development efforts aimed to establish a process which leads step by step to improvement: The project has gone through a long and difficult process. At the beginning, there was little practical experience in this field but problems were mounting and decisions had to be taken which involved considerable risks. In this situation, both project staff and advisers were learning by doing. Gradually this process of learning became more and more organized so that, today, a concept is available which provides solutions for a wide range of waste handling problems and which may be of some use for similar projects elsewhere.

The concept

Development efforts make sense only if in the end a sustainable process of change to the better is achieved. Whenever institutions are the "object" of development, they must be brought into a financially sound condition to survive without further external aid.

Unit cost (real ‘000 NRs)


External investment in institutional development makes sense only if in the end a financially sustainable approach can be achieved. This implies that both

- the operation of services with a target coverage and a planned quality and
- the investment into necessary assets such as equipment and structures can be locally (internally) financed.

This precondition of sustainable development sounds simple. However, in the past hardly any public corporation in Nepal proved to be sustainable in this sense.

Theoretically, waste management institutions can achieve financial sustainability by the following means:

- sufficient cash generation by own direct income;
- credit financing over the capital market (which is indeed a short term concept only);
- financing by direct government contribution which should be guided by a formal agreement;
- cost reduction by optimizing both investment and operational strategies.

However, in less developed countries like Nepal cash generation by direct own income proves to be a relatively difficult task. Having in mind the negative cash flow of SWMRMC, credit financing is also understood to be a financing tool which can hardly be proposed. The trust into the willingness and capability of the local or central government to finance in the long run costs of waste management should not be overestimated, either.

This is why the management of SWMRMC decided to utilize all means to reduce costs with highest priority. Revenue collection got second priority only: It was not tried to cover unbearable costs, management aimed at the recovery of minimum expenditure only.

Over a period of at least 7 years this concept has been successfully implemented: Unit costs of the services could be reduced by more than 10% annually (before inflation)fromabout260NRsin 1985 to about 65 NRs in 1992!

At the same time a fee collection system was built up, which at first proved quite successful. Although only introduced in 1985, direct fee collection was already recovering about 35% of operating costs by 1989/90. However, since then no further improvement has been possible. On the contrary, total costs have increased due to higher performance and inflation, whereas the amount of fees collected has remained more or less unchanged. The recovery rate has fallen to about 20%.

All efforts to further increase fee collection failed during the last three years: Concepts to recover expenditure incurring in foreign currency by the introduction of an environmental fee to be paid by tourists have not so far materialized Adequate systems to recover waste management costs from industries, hotels etc. could not be introduced. Efforts to adapt inflation in the various fee positions could not be implemented due to the resistance of customers. However, awareness of policy makers is now focussing on the issue. It is hoped that in the coming months appropriate measures will be taken to further lower costs and establish a firm basis for improved fee collection.

Management tools for cost reduction

Institutional development in waste management can be successful in the long run only if it is based on a concept of cost reduction. An acceptable rate of cost recovery can be achieved only if all possibilities of cost reduction are exploited Quite often the potentials of cost reduction are higher than those if improvement in fee collection.

1. The unit cost system - Simple tool for the choice of waste collection and waste transport equipment: Waste collection and waste transport need different types of equipment and vehicles depending upon specific tasks such as short distance or long distance transport. Decisions regarding the choice of a transport fleet must be based on proper economic assessment. Unit cost calculations are a viable tool. These models designed e.g. a simple LOTUS 1-2-3 spreadsheet calculate transport costs per cubic metre over various distances (and other variables) for different types of equipment. They in fact are a basic financial assessment tool which should be used before any investment in a collection and transport fleet is done.

Cost recovery (‘000 NRs)


In the Kathmandu experience unit cost calculation proved that a properly managed skip (small container) system is about four times cheaper than the traditional street cleaning system combined with tractor and trailers for primary waste collection and waste transport. The cost effectiveness of the skip system is due to two principles, namely the KIS principle and the HOO principle. KIS stands for "keep it simple" and HOO stands for "handle once only"! These principles are integral part of the whole solid waste management scheme designed.

2. Dynamic financial and economic assessment - Precondition for sound decision-making in bigger investment programs: For bigger investment programs dynamic financial and economic assessment techniques have to be applied (e.g. average incremental cost approach, cost benefit analysis etc.). Only then can management decisions be based on transparent scenarios of future financial implications. If assessment is not carried out, funds may in the long run be misallocated.

In the Kathmandu example, calculations proved that an envisaged early close down of a landfill site will imply costs similar to one annual budget of waste management. The assessment model was used, too, to prove that small scale composting is the most promising concept to be implemented in a country like Nepal. Any other strategy will be endangered due to unbearable costs.

3. Financial and economic assessment - proof of the need to subsidize compost production: Economic assessment can be based on private and on socio-economic costs and revenues. If socioeconomic results are more favorable than financial calculations, financial decisions may be reorientated in favor of socioeconomic concepts. In these cases, however, the operator is losing the difference between the financial and economic costs! If for example compost production is to be enhanced for the sake of its positive environmental effects (beyond the value farmers are willing to pay for), the producer of compost does not directly receive any income for the additional positive environmental effects. Production then might prove to be financially not viable. In these cases it is to be decided whether the government subsidizes compost production to cover the implied private losses.

In the Kathmandu case it was learned, that the production of compost from municipal waste can be enhanced only if it is subsidized to bridge differences between private and economic (social) costs and revenues.

4. System assessment for optimal choice of transport chain: If long distance transport of waste is necessary to compost plants and landfill sites, alternative concepts of waste transport have to be assessed. The system evaluation with reveal whether it is viable or not to develop a transfer station concept.

In Kathmandu it was decided to operate up to five simple transfer stations to reduce operational costs of primary and secondary waste transport. This concept will reduce transport costs by more than 20%!

5. Optimization of daily operation: In bigger towns the optimal use of the transport fleet may prove to be quite complicated. It may be useful to organize and control operation of the fleet using a computer based optimization model. The control of fleet operation should be organized by radio. It is estimated that a cost reduction of 10% 20% is possible by adopting this concept.

In summary it can be stated, that there is ample room for cost reduction. Possibilities seemingly go far beyond the opportunities to recover high costs by fees to be collected from the waste generators. However, it is felt that proper cost management is just part of the problem. In the long run concepts which improve knowledge, skills and attitudes of the population towards avoidance of waste generation, towards waste recycling and proper waste handling are preconditions of sustainable success in cost reduction.

Lessons learned in fee collection

Sustainable development in waste management is possible only if cost recovery is achieved. In least developed countries only part of the cost can be recovered by direct waste fees. The remaining balance must be reclaimed from government contributions as a subsidy on the basis of a contractual obligation.

As a principle, fees should reflect costs incurred. This will have two positive effects:

- Costs will be recovered as far as possible by direct fees to be collected from the waste generator to recover the costs of the waste management institution;

- the burden of fees will induce the waste generator to reduce waste production.

It must be clearly understood that as soon as one stops collecting fees based on both costs and the amount of waste generated directly from the waste generator, the objective of providing incentives to avoid waste no longer exists.

Against this background, an attempt was made to build up a suitable fee collection system for CWMRMC, bearing the following considerations in mind:

1. To achieve cost recovery, fees must be based on proven unit costs of service.

2. With regard to the concept of cross-subsidization, the target rate of cost recovery must be achieved as an average value. High-income groups must subsidize the low-income groups.

3. Fee collection must be linked to intensive public relations work to make people aware waste management is a service from which they benefit. This will increase their willingness to pay.

4. Fee collection must be started as soon as adequate services are provided. Only then will the target group accept it as normal to pay for the service.

5. The design of fee systems must be such that they can be administered easily. Only then is effective and efficient fee collection possible. Effective fee collection means that people who have to pay a fee will be requested to pay. Efficient fee collection means that the costs of collection are low as compared to the revenues from fees.

6. A streamlined, well-organized administration must be built up m waste management institutions. Proper debtor control is imperative, and management should give high priority to this task. Only then will effective fee collection be possible.

7. To keep fee management simple, fee items which prove negligible should be ignored.

8. In less developed countries, the unit cost of waste management per month and person may prove to be low. If a cross-subsidization system is implemented, the fee to be paid by the low income groups may become negligible. in these cases, fee collection costs will be unacceptably high as compared to Nepal is sharply increasing the cost of c/imbing its side of Mt. Everest, and now insists that teams take all their rubbish back down the mountain revenues from fees. An indirect fee system is suggested for such cases (e.g. a property tax).

Nepal is sharply increasing the cost of climbing its side of Mt. Everest, and now insists that teams take all their rubbish back down the mountain. Cartoon: Panos

The lesson learned in Kathmandu is abundantly clear in a least developed country it will be difficult to collect sufficient fees directly from generators of waste. Special difficulties arise because the cheap skip (container) system provides only an indirect service and people are somewhat reluctant to pay for a service of this kind.

Supplementary indirect collection systems and taxes must be introduced to finance costs.

Basing development on experience, some of the intellectual logic of the system was lost: the inadequate results of direct fee collection suggest that personal fees are no longer any - or sufficient - incentive to reduce waste generation. Low-cost indirect services combined with a limited willingness to pay are the cause. However, the weakness of indirect fee collection or financing by taxation has to be accepted to permit financial sustainability.


There is no "definitive" solution to enhance financial sustainability in solid waste management in least developed countries. There is not even any "definitive" concept for minimizing waste generation, enhancing recycling and facilitating proper waste management.

The call for change must not focus only on ambitious goals. At the same time, it must be oriented towards establishing a process leading in the right direction. Being "on the right track" is more important than having only important "development objectives" in mind. This kind of process orientation can be established only if we follow an integrated approach. It is not the lawyer, nor the financial expert, technocrat or sociologist who will solve the problem: a combined approach by the entire population is needed to achieve environmental improvement.

To enhance financial sustainability, top priority must be given to reducing costs for an appropriate service. If sufficient fees cannot be collected directly, indirect fee collection must be improved. Alternatively, as a last resort, direct government subsidies and taxes can be introduced to balance costs and revenues.


Waste management can only be sustained if operating costs are recovered. Above all in the poorest developing countries these costs can only partially be recovered through fees. The author explains why, taking a project in Nepal as an example.


La gestion des dets ne peut e durable que si les dnses courantes vent couvertes. Et prsnt dans les pays en vole de dloppement les plus pauvres, ces dnses ne peuvent e couvertes que partiellement par le prvement de taxes. C'est ce qu'explique l'auteur en se rrant a un projet au Nl.


La gestie desechos solo puede tener efecto duradero al cubrirse los gastos corrientes. Precisamente en los pas en v de desarrollo mas pobres, dichos pueden cubrirse solo en parte a travde tasas. El autor explica esta situaciediante un proyecto en Nepal.

Scavengers and recycling in Indonesia

by Manfred Oepen *

Indonesia's 'Pemulung'- i.e. scavengers or waste pickers, are the poorest of the urban poor, and their social status is correspondingly low. The work done by these people, however, generates large-scale savings for many Indonesians and for the State authorities and prevents extensive environmental pollution.

Even though they are often treated as 'tramps' and obstacles to 'development pemulung serve at least three important and underestimated functions. They absorb part of the otherwise state covered social costs of 'modernization' through self employment in the urban informal sector. They also shoulder part of the ecological costs of development through collecting and processing waste which otherwise the state would have to pay for in terms of waste transport and disposal. Lastly, scavengers economically contribute highly to the efficiency of the formal sector because they provide raw material from recycled waste at a comparatively low price.

Impressive record

Indeed, their record is impressive: In Jakarta alone, out of more than 21,000 m' of waste produced per day in 1988 25%, i.e. more than 5,000 m' or 2,000 tonnes, were recycled by an estimated 37,000 scavengers. In 1988, the pemulung delivered 20,000 tonnes of waste paper to 11 paper factories, and making up to 90 % of the secondary raw material in this industry. A total of US $ 48.5 million were extracted from solid waste recycling per year in comparison to just US $ 0.5 million of garbage collection fees in Jakarta alone. Today, at least 78 factories in the Jabotabek area use recovered material from waste for plastic, paper, glass and metal production. In terms of specific recovered items like glass and paper, the recycling rates are as high as 60-80%. Potential garbage such as rubber tires, construction wood, paper from office complexes, left-over food from restaurants etc. never enters the 'waste flow' because it is recovered and recycled by pemulung at source.

Recycling trade chain

Pemulung are the base link in a recycling trade chain which reaches the processing factories via small and large waste traders, the 'bos lapak' ,'bandar' and 'supplier'. The 'lapak' lives with 'his' scavengers in a patron-client relationship which implies socioeconomic dependencies but also provides a sort of legal and social security as well as health insurance. An average of 15 scavengers work for one 'bos lapak', i.e. around 2.200 'lapaks' in Jakarta provide jobs for 35,000 people at a net profit of, on average, US $ 16 per day for the 'lapak' and a daily wage of US $ 0.75 - 3.5 per day for the scavengers.

Economic dependencies

Some 'lapak' specialize in particular commodities which the scavengers collect at temporary and final dump sites and, very often, at office complexes, shopping centres, markets etc. Most 'lapaks' engage in semi-official deals with local authorities to the effect that pemulung maintain primary waste collection at the household level of major urban areas. Transport, then, is a crucial element of the 'bandar' in the recycling trade as is venture capital for the 'supplier'.

As only the 'supplier' has access to bank credits, he grants loans at high interest rates to the 'lapak' who does the same with the scavengers. While pricing and profit margins for recycling commodities are within ordinary limits, the loans constitute a system of economic dependencies handed down the trade chain that work to the disadvantage of the scavengers.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg- the micro-economic or entrepreneurial level. There are other macro-economic and ecological factors as well where the scavengers' informal recycling system saves the state or the city budget a lot of waste-related costs: Jakarta produces 711,180 tonnes of garbage per month which costs the cleansing department US $ 8.5 per ton to collect, transport and dispose of. Scavengers recycling 25% of his waste save the city Us $ 270-300,000 per month. This adds up to US $ 3.25-3.6 million per year avoided SWM costs in relation to a US $ 8.8 million SWM budget in 1990.

This calculation of avoided costs does not yet take into consideration the possibility of composting organic waste which makes up for about 60 - 75 % of the total volume of garbage. The costs for cleaning rivers or canals, for providing public health or sanitation, for balancing water, soil and air pollution would increase dramatically if the pemulung would suddenly stop recycling. In addition to avoided costs in public spending, scavengers also contribute to a more careful use of natural resources. For example in delivering 378,000 to of waste paper per year to paper factories for recycling, the pemulung save 6 million trees from being cut down.

Scavenger Development Program

The scavengers' problems lie in their insecure legal status and low social status, and their stagnant productivity and economic dependency which make them easy targets for harassment, eviction, corruption and exploitation. Other constraints like the lack of access to local decision making, loans, education, public services, or their short-term consuming patterns etc. result from this situation.

Hence, the first phase of the "Scavenger Development Program" in 1991-1992 aimed to benefit the scavengers directly and indirectly by

- lobbying for policy changes of their legal status
- improving their public image and social status
- increasing their productivity and the value-added of recycled products
- increasing their bargaining power
- fostering their participation in local decision-making processes
- developing appropriate low technologies for waste processing
- preparing for a larger-scale scavenger program within the context of an urban Integrated Resource Recovery System.

Project Implementing Teams in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya, an NGO and two universities, in cooperation with the respective city cleansing office were assisted by a Project Policy Team from several Indonesian ministries and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit, GTZ.

A variety of activities was implemented to pursue the stated goals. Empirical, action and policy research, exposure workshops and political dialogue with policy and opinion makers were carried out to prepare and foster policy changes.

A TV pilot film, video, development support communication and street theatre performed by pemulung themselves were meant to improve their public image, increase their own self confidence and integrate them with other social groups. Skills, management and family welfare training as well as revolving funds were geared to strengthen the organizational and productive capacities of scavengers' co-ops and self help groups.

A 'Business Development Program' in cooperation with 'bos lapak' and pemulung co-ops successfully bypassed the suppliers' loan monopoly, and increased the scavengers' bargaining power and family incomes. Appropriate low-tech waste processing approaches, especially in composting organic waste were field-tested in a 'Waste Industrial Estate'.

The Program came to the conclusion that in the long run, policies and programs should be implemented in the following areas:

- Waste reduction by decentralized recycling and composting close to the source of garbage.

- Formalization and upgrading of the recycling business including scavengers and their cooperatives or other organizations to create employment opportunities.

- Legalization of scavengers and their cooperatives - as in the case of Surabaya where scavengers and their association PMPK are recognized by the city government as 'friends of the yellow troop', i.e. the cleansing department

- Upgrading of 'lapak' through formalization, registration, legalization, credit schemes and other support on the basis of economic, city planning, and employment-related criteria.

- Installation of 'Waste Industrial Estates' for non-organic (recycling) and organic (composting) waste processing at the Kelurahan level which scavengers' cooperatives, the community, the private sector and local authorities would participate in and benefit from.


"Pemulung" or scavengers fulfill an important role in Indonesian cities, collecting and recycling about a quarter of all solid waste. In Djakarta, they supply 90% of the waste paper recycled in the city's paper factories. The social standing of the Pemulung is low - they are among the poorest members of the population and are economically exploited. A programme, currently being implemented aims to improve their rights and negotiating powers, as well as providing training opportunities.

»Pemulung« ou »ramasseurs d'ordures«. (scavengers) ont une fonction importante dans les grandes villes indonennes. Ils ramassent et recyclent environ un quart des dets solides. A Djakarta, ils livrent 90 % des besoins en vieux papiers des papeteries de la ville. Les »Pemulung« ne jouissent que d'une faible considtion sociale. Ils font partie des plus pauvres et vent exploit Un projet s'est fixe pour objectif d'amorer leur droits et leur pouvoir de nciation, et leur propose des formations.


Los "pemulung" o recogedores de basura (scavengers) desempeun importante papel en las grandes ciudades indonesias, puesto que recolectan y reciclan aproximadamente una cuarta parte de los residuos solidos. En Yakarta le suministran a las fabricas de papel un 90 por ciento de la demanda de papel usado. Los "pemulung" no gozan de aprecio social alguno. Pertenecen a la clase mas pobre y son explotados econamente. Un proyecto pretende mejorar sus derechos y su poder de negociaciofrecioles posibilidades de formacion profesional.

Recycling garbage in Metro Manila

For seven and a half years the Metro Manila Council of Women Balikatan Movement, a non-governmental organization of 20,000 women has been recycling dry household wastes back to the factories where they are used as secondary materials in the 21 villages of San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines.

The programme involves the separation of garbage in the kitchen into wet (animal and food wastes) and dry (paper, plastics, bottles, tin cans, rubber slippers, bottle caps, metals) waste.

The wet garbage is collected daily by a government agency. The dry garbage is collected and paid for by the programme's more than 100 collectors, or "eco-aides". These individuals are usually unemployed or underemployed young men. During the programme, the Council

- conducted meetings with housewives and civic, trade and religious organizations in the town to inform them of the programme;

- organized six junk shop owners to join the programme;

- researched to develop a market for non-traditional garbage such as bottle cans, rubber slippers, broken bottles, medicine bottles, batteries, motor vehicle tires, etc.;

- provided paints (for the push charts for immediate identity), green T-shirts for the eco-aides and ID cards for the "eco-aides";

- provided the junk shop owners with a route of the 21 villages of the town to ensure that collection is organized and that the whole town is fully covered;

- arranged with the village councils to cooperate with the programme;

- printed and distributed flyers in all of the 18,457 households through the village councils, churches, civic, trade and religious non-governmental-organizations. (This is still being done to this day, because not all of the households respond to the programme. Some are too lazy to separate their garbage and throw it in the streets and canals.);

- held meetings with the junk shop owners once a week and now once a month since the programme is in place;

- held meetings with the "eco-aides" to improve their system of collection;

- assisted the junk shop owners in obtaining loans to cover their higher requirements of capital since their business improved as more and more dry wastes are collected.

A World Bank-UNDP case study of the programme attributes the success of this almost 9-year old environmental exercise to three factors:

- the use of the informal system in the collection of waste materials;
- the educational campaign launched in the area regarding environmental issues;
- the sincere support of the junk shop owners, the community and the local government.

Today, the Programme of the Metro Manila Council of Women Balikatan Movement recycles at least 27 tons of garbage back to the factories.

Contact: Metro Manila Council of Women Balikatan Movement, Inc., 15 Regency Park, 207 Santolan Road, Quezon City Metro Manila, Philippines.'

Community involvement in municipal solid waste management

Roland Schertenleib and Werner Meyer *

Inadequate coverage of the population to be served and operational inefficiencies are some of the major problems observed in most municipal solid waste management (SWM) schemes in economically less developed countries. The urban poor in high-density areas usually make up the largest part of the unserved population. A lack of adequate institutional arrangements and low financial and technical sustainability of the existing collection schemes are the main reasons for this situation.

In general, the waste generated by the rapidly expanding cities grows beyond the collection capacity of most municipal administrations since not even the operation costs of the collection services can be covered by adequate fees. In addition, many urban poor live in unplanned and unauthorized areas (often outside the municipal boundaries) and are, therefore, not eligible for municipal services. Consequently, the solid waste disposal practices of the individual households in unserved high-density areas are mostly detrimental to the living environment of the entire city (e.g. burning, indiscriminate dumping into watercourses and/or surface water drains).

This situation can probably be improved significantly if the inhabitants of low-income communities start assuming the responsibility of handling their own garbage and setting up a system appropriate to their own economic situation. This can take different forms; i.e., the community or neighborhood either operates its own primary collection scheme by using for instance unemployed and/or retired people from within or outside of the community, and/or the population will have to partly carry out the work itself.

Different types

In other words, those who cannot afford to pay in cash will still be provided with SWM services by paying in kind. Such types of community-based waste collection schemes, often combined with sorting and recycling activities, have been tried out over the past few years in different urban areas in Asia, Latin America and Africa. This article reports on the preliminary results of a review of about So SWM schemes in which the beneficiaries are or have been reportedly involved to some degree.
The review of the solid waste management (SWM) schemes with reportedly some kind of community involvement has revealed that there is a wide range of interpretations and usage of the terms "community participation" and "community-based" respectively. (For the purpose of this article, the term "community" is used when denoting the community of beneficiaries.) At one end of the scale there are schemes which only marginally involve the local population; i.e., the waste is brought to a collection point predetermined by the municipality, as it is the case in most low-income and/or high density urban areas. In a number of schemes, the community has already been involved to a greater extent, e.g. in site selection and/or type of collection points.

However, very few examples of real "community-based" waste collection schemes were found that involve the community not only in the operation but also in the management of the system.

The review has also shown that any community involvement is or has been basically limited to primary waste collection and is, thereby, the first step in a sequence of different activities in a SWM scheme. During primary collection, the waste is collected from the households and brought to the nearest communal collection point. Some kind of primary collection scheme is needed in areas where conventional collection vehicles cannot reach households due to poor accessibility, and/or in low-income areas, where the population cannot afford door-to-door collection by trucks. The waste is then picked up from the communal collection points by a secondary collection system and transported to the landfill.

Secondary collection, transport of primary collected waste to the dumping site, and operation of the landfill is usually beyond the scope and capability of the community itself.

In addition, the population in the community is usually most interested and motivated to remove the waste from its immediate environment, however, it usually shows very little interest in an environmentally sound final disposal of its waste.

Primary collection schemes

After reviewing existing and/or tried out primary collection schemes with some kind of community involvement, it seemed useful to divide them into different categories. The categorization is based on:
- Motivation in the setting up and operation of a primary collection scheme: Primary collection schemes have been basically set up for three different reasons: (i) mainly to improve the condition of the environment, (ii) create jobs, or (iii) improve resource recovery from solid waste. Although all of these components play a certain role in all primary collection schemes, it is obvious that initially one main motive force triggered off the course of action. The community-based primary collection schemes common in urban areas in Indonesia have, for instance, been set up primarily to improve the cleanliness of the neighborhood and the environmental health.

However, the main motive for introducing such a scheme in a district of Douala (Cameroon) was to create jobs for the unemployed young. The well known system operated by the "Zabaleen" (ethnic group specialized in recycling) in Cairo is a good example for resource recovery.

However, the main motive for their waste collection schemes is recycling. It is important to note that it is the main motive which determines how a scheme is set up what its limits are. Primary waste collection schemes, which are generally motivated by resource recovery (e.g. Cairo), will serve only high and middle-income areas but will neglect low-income neighborhoods due to the low content of recycables in the waste of the poor.

- Level of community involvement during initiation and operation of the scheme: As mentioned earlier, primary collection schemes vary considerably in the degree of community involvement. In most schemes, the involvement of the local population is restricted to facilitating SWM operation and reducing costs. Only few schemes can be considered "community based" in the sense that the beneficiaries are involved in all stages; i.e., from the setting up to the operation of the primary collection scheme.

- Type(s) of organization(s) involved in setting up, operating, and managing the scheme: When looking at the organizations engaged in the set-up, operation and management of primary waste collection systems, one can differentiate between (1) the ones based and mainly active within the collection area ("local/internal" organizations), and (2) the ones based and active mainly outside the collection area ("external" organizations).

The "local" organizations can be classified as (i) informal self help groups (e.g. occasional neighborhood committees, youth and women groups, clan meetings), (ii) formal local non government organizations (NGOs) such as associations, cooperatives, social clubs, religious organizations, political parties, and (iii) formal government organizations (GOB) such as the lowest administrative units (e.g. ward, block, cell, panchayat, baranguay).

The "external" organizations are (i) national or international NGOs, (ii) multilateral and bilateral external support agencies (ESAs), (iii) higher level GOs (e.g. the Solid Waste Department, the City Council, the Metropolitan Authority).

Therefore, the primary collection schemes with community involvement can be divided into the following categories according to the degree of community involvement and type of organization involved:

Category Ia: Scheme initiated and managed either by "local" NGOs, neighborhood or community organization(s);

Category Ib: Scheme initiated by "external" organization(s) in view of early handing over of management to "local" organization(s);

Category Ic: Scheme initiated and managed by "external" organization(s), possibly with "local" NGOs, with clear active involvement in decision-making by the local community;

Category II: Scheme managed by local organization(s) and operated by co-operative(s);

Category III: Scheme initiated, managed and operated by "local" GOs;

Category IVa: Planning of scheme with active community involvement; management and operation by "external" GOs; and

Category IVb: Planning, operation and management of scheme by "external" GOs with partial operational participation of the population.

Main findings

The following findings and conclusions can be drawn from the review of roughly 50 solid waste management (SWM) schemes in which the beneficiaries are or have been reportedly involved to some degree:

- Municipal SWM remains the responsibility of municipal authorities and is usually managed and operated by their own services. Any type of organized community involvement is rather an exception and mainly concentrates on primary collection and communal street cleansing activities community involvement in other municipal SWM components such as secondary collection, transportation, waste treatment or final disposal, is usually beyond the scope of a community.

- Two main reasons lead to primary collection schemes which can suitably be managed by the community of beneficiaries: Poor or lack of road access to households for conventional waste collection trucks (e.g. in irregular high-density communities with narrow lanes), and/or the lack of political will by the municipal government and local politicians to serve unauthorized low-income settlements.

- As regards primary collection, there is a wide range of different types of community involvement. They range from schemes where people's participation is restricted to bringing their waste to a determined point to schemes with different degrees of community control.

- Improved cleanliness within the local public area of an unserved low-income community has usually been the driving force for setting up a community-based primary collection scheme.

- A prerequisite for the successful operation of a community-based collection scheme is a reliably functioning interface on the technical as well as on the institutional level between the primary (communal) and the secondary (municipal) collection scheme. Uncollected waste from communal collection points by the municipal collection system often lowers the community's motivation and results in the collapse of primary collection schemes.

- Existing traditions and experiences in community-based approaches in other communal affairs can significantly facilitate community-based approaches in primary collection. In communities without such experiences, external assistance in community development may significantly enhance community management.

- A key aspect of primary waste collection is financial viability. Community-based primary collection schemes generally depend on individual cost-recovering financing mechanism. In mixed income areas, cross subsidies are usually required for full coverage (including the poorest households) of a community-based collection scheme.

- In urban areas where the middle and high income areas are served by a door to door collection system operated and financed by the municipality, individual households in low income areas and/or in areas with poor road access are usually not willing to pay an "additional" fee for a community-based primary collection scheme. Fees, instead of general taxes should, therefore, cover the costs of primary SW collection services.


The International References Centre for Waste Disposal studied 50 waste management projects in Asia, Latin America and Africa, classifying them according to the level of participation of the beneficiaries. Among other things, the classification draws distinctions between participation of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foreign NGOs, and involvement of cooperatives and local foreign government agencies.


L'International References Centre for Waste Disposal a proc ne de et a un classement, en fonction de la participation des personnes concern, de 50 projets de gestion des dets en Asie, en Amque latine et en Afrique. Le classement fait une distinction, entre autres, selon qu'il s'agit de la participation d'organisations non gouvernementales locales ou angs, de l'association de cooptives et de services gouvernementaux locaux et angers.


El International References Centre for Waste Disposal ha analizado y catalogado 50 proyectos de gestie desechos en Asia, Latinoamca y Africa, seg diferente participacie los usufructuarios. La catalogac ie ha realizado, entre otros, seg participacie organizaciones no gubernamentales, tanto locales como extranjeras, seg inclusie cooperativas, asomo de autoridades gubern- amentales local es y extranjeras.

Hazardous waste management

Legal, Technical and Economic Aspects

by Hans Sutter

Over the last few years the basic concepts of industrial waste management have changed substantially, not only in its underlying philosophy, but in its technical and administrative aspects as well.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the first waste management legislation was effected in 1972, which at the time dealt with organizational and planning requirements for the collection, treatment and final disposal of wastes and the necessary supervision. With some negligible exceptions, these regulative measures were limited to what takes place after "the end of the pipe".

Indicative of the intended progress towards source reduction, the Waste Disposal Act became the Waste Avoidance and Management Act coincidental with its 4th amendment in 1986. The basic tenets of this updated legislation specified the waste generation must be avoided as far as technically possible and economically acceptable and that waste must be recycled unless this is economically not feasable. Waste that can neither be avoided nor used with reasonable costs must be disposed of in an environmentally sound way. Therefore, one main objective of the new waste legislation is to give low-waste technologies priority over customary waste disposal.

In the context of this article, the term "low-waste technology" refers to industrial waste management and reduction and recycling intended to reduce the amount of waste requiring waste disposal capacity. It includes inplant measures (source reduction), as well as environmentally sound reuse in external plants.

End-of-pipe Technology

The main reason for this new philosophy of eliminating hazardous waste at its source and using low-waste technologies lies in the shortcomings of the end-of-the-pipe technology concept to fight industrial pollution (Figure 1). The figure depicts an industrial process and the necessary end-of-pipe equipment for air pollution control, waste water treatment and waste disposal.

Figure 1

Industrial production and environmental pollution caused by industrial processes have much to do with material flows. According to the mass balance, the input materials are transformed into products and residues. The products are marketed, whereas the residues enter the environment through three different pathways: the air, water or hazardous waste path. In the air pollution control system, the contaminants are removed from the wasteair stream and transformed into waste water or solid waste. Only a residual stream that meets the legally established standards is emitted into the environment. In principle, the same happens in the waste water treatment system: the contaminants are removed from the waste water and transformed into a solid state and disposed of as waste.

Three waste streams enter the waste disposal system, one of which originates directly from the production process. These wastes are unwanted byproducts and therefore, often neglected in the design of the process, especially when there is the possibility of getting rid of them by emitting them into the environment. The other two waste streams stem from the air pollution control system and the waste water treatment system.

The waste disposal system itself is end-of-pipe technology and consists mainly of two parts (Figure 2):

- the pre-treatment system
- the final disposal in specially designed chemical landfills.

Figure 2

In the pre-treatment system, the wastes are converted from hazardous into less or non-harzadous materials, at the same time reducing the bulk of the waste and thus the landfill volume required. The methods used to accomplish these objectives can be classified into three major treatments: physical, chemical and thermal. A variety of technologies can be found in each of these groups. The most important pre-treatment method is incineration. The hazardous waste treatment system itself produces waste that must finally be disposed of on land. In addition, waste water and gaseous emissions result from these operations.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the land disposal of many untreated hazardous wastes must be phased out according to the 1990 requirements of "Technical Instructions Hazardous Waste", an administrative ordinance the on ad implementing the new waste act. These regulations were to produce nationally applicable technical standards for the treatment and disposal of waste based on the latest advances in technology. However, relying solely on treatment and the establishment of strict controls on land disposal cannot fully solve hazardous waste problems. It is essential that the generation of hazardous waste is minimized by using low-waste technologies.

Low-Waste Technologies

From an environmental point of view, a production system can be roughly explained as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3

The input materials are transformed into products and residues. It is important to differentiate raw materials from auxiliary materials because they affect the development of low-waste technologies differently.

The raw materials consist of different components, among which the valuable part that goes into the product can be found. This might be, for instance, copper in a copper-containing ore. In the production of vinyl chloride, it is chlorine and ethylene. Beside these valuable parts, there are unwanted components like rocks in copper ores. As Figure 3 shows, only the valuable parts of the raw material end up in the product, whereas the other components create residue problems. The same happens with the so-called auxiliary materials. Their function is to enable production; they are not intended to be present in the product. Hence, all the auxiliary materials inputs result in residues. Examples of auxiliary materials are acids, chlorinated solvents, foundry sands or salts in smelting processes.

Developing low-waste technologies answers the question: What can be done with the residues as an alternative to their disposal? In the concepts shown in Figure 4, case "a" is a diagram representing an open production system, where all the residues are emitted directly into the environment. In case "b", the residues are reused as secondary raw materials in other production processes. If the waste stream consists only of auxiliary materials, then in principle, case "c", a closed-loop cycle, can be built up to avoid all waste. As Figure 3 indicates, substitution of raw materials or auxiliary materials is the third option to develop low-waste technologies.

Figure 4

In an open system, all the input materials are transformed into products and residues, which are emitted directly into the environment. The relationship between the input materials that end up in products and those which are left in the residues is dependent upon the particular process and can differ greatly from branch to branch. In chromium galvanizing, only 25 percent of the input material is used for the product, while 75 percent is transformed into residues that enter the environment via the waste path or as galvanic sludge.

A similar situation occurs with industrial spray-painting, where 25 percent of the input paint stays on the product and 75 percent is emitted into the environment by the air or solid waste path. In the Federal Republic of Germany, about 350,000 tons of non halogenated solvents are emitted and 250,000 tons of paint sludges have to be disposed of, which together have a raw material value of about one billion Marks per year. There are many other examples available of the poor usage of raw materials and high waste production. Clearly, these processes are good candidates for developing low-waste technologies because improving the waste situation results in better material usage and economic advantages over traditional processes.

The open system can be partially closed by reusing the residues as raw materials in other production processes. This depends on the composition of the residual stream and if it can be partially recycled internally (Figure 4) or if it must be reprocessed completely to produce a new product or a new intermediate product.

Principally, in cases where the waste stream consists only of auxiliary materials (and these cases are of great importance in the hazardous waste field), a closed loop cycle can be created to avoid the production of waste entirely.

Another approach in developing low-waste technologies lies in the substitution of those substances (raw or auxiliary materials) that create the waste problem. Normally, this approach requires a completely new process design. An example is the substitution of chlorinated solvents in metal cleaning by water-based systems.

As a result of the increased importance of low-waste technologies in solving hazardous waste problems, research and development projects for the avoidance and utilization of hazardous wastes in different industrial areas have been initiated. The results demonstrate that new solutions can be found if the product stream and the waste stream both are given research priority. New developments in low-waste technology already have led to reductions in hazardous waste generation, and will continue to do so.

The hopes for harmony between ecology and economy rely on the simple fact that reduced material input into the production process will result in reduced waste generation and in turn in reduced costs. Figure 5 suggests, as does Figure 3, such economic benefits for low-waste technologies. Processes with high waste production also consume a lot of input materials. The total amount of auxiliary materials can end up in the waste stream. If the process is not efficiently run, then a certain amount of the valuable part of the raw materials, which can be high, is transformed into waste and not into a product. Improving the efficiency of input material use means nothing less than minimizing waste. In other words: waste minimization means less material input and therefore less material costs and less disposal cost. This relationship is shown schematically in Figure 5.

Figure 5

The cost-savings of low-waste methods also must be considered in relation to other necessary processing costs such as energy and capital. Figure 6 assumes a progressive relationship between processing costs and reduced waste production. The total costs curve has a minimum at x(opt). This means that waste reduction begins to pay for itself somewhere between x(max) and x(opt). On the other hand, moving from x(opt) to x(min) leads to higher product costs because the cost savings of waste reduction methods are reduced by increased processing costs.

Figure 6


In recent years the management of industrial waste has undergone a change. Whereas the main thrust of activity was initially on developing methods for final treatment and disposal, the problem is now being tackled at the production stage. The emphasis is now on reducing, recycling and re-using the hazardous substances.


La gestion des dets industriels a connu une profonde lution au cours de ces dernis ann. Alors que la mise au point de procs de traitement et de stockage dnitifs occupaient auparavant une place de premier plan, on intervient aujourd'hui en amont, c'est-a-dire au niveau du processus de fabrication. Entre temps, l'accent est mis sur la rction, le recyclage et la des mataux dangereux employ


La gestie desechos industriales ha cambiado en los os a En tanto que, inicialmente, se puso especial asis en el desarrollo de procesos de tratamiento y almacenamiento finales, el proceso de produccicupa hoy en del lugar m destacado. Entretanto, se trace hincapin la reducciel reciclaje y la reutilizacion de las sustancias peligrosas empleadas.

Pollution control of tannery effluents

From an End-of-Pipe Treatment System to In-Plant Methods

by Jurgen Pors

Depending on the raw materials, processes and end-products involved, the constituents of wastes from tannery operations vary in both quantity and importance. They include hair, hide scraps, pieces of flesh, blood, manure, dirt, salt, lime, soluble and insoluble proteins, sulphides, amines, chromium salts, tannins, soda ash, sugars and starches, oils, fats, greases, surfactants, mineral acids, dyes and solvents. The author discusses methods of controlling the most harmful pollutants.

Chrome tanning is carried out in rotating drums with chromium (III) sulphate hydrate, starting at pH3.5 or lower and ending at almost pH 4 as a result of basification. The chromium (Cr) penetrates the pelts, where it is bound and cross-links the hide collagen molecules. About 6080 % of the chromium in the bath is bound. The residual float contains about 6 g of Cr oxide per litre (20 - 40% of the initial amount if no further additives are used.

Under normal conditions the tanning bath is by no means exhausted. This is why measures to improve chromium fixation in the leather and to recover chromium from the residual float are of great interest from both an economic and an ecological point of view.

Chromium fixation can be improved by a higher level of basification, higher temperature, longer tanning periods and more sophisticated chromium compounds. These measures will lower the residual chromium concentration, but not sufficiently: chromium will still be found in the sludge residue after effluent treatment. Moreover, the quality of the leather produced by using these costly special agents (high exhaustion techniques) cannot be maintained in the same way as when the conventional chrome tanning process with 30% excess chromium sulphate is used.

This is why tanners aiming for high quality and environmentally safe processes use the conventional method, recovering the excess chromium from the used liquids by precipitation (addition of alkaline substances to increase the pH) and redissolution in sulphuric acid. The chromium can thus be reused for tanning.

After chromium recovery the residual effluents meet all national and international standard limits.

For the production of heavy leather, such as sole, mechanical and saddle leather, vegetable tanning is employed - the solution contains extracts from the bark of trees. The effluents from vegetable tanning consists of tannins which are difficult to break down, cannot be removed as easily as chromium and are intensively colored, causing a non-toxic but highly non-degradable pollution load.

Chromium and sulphide

Since chromium and sulphide are the two most important and harmful pollutants, they have to be removed from the effluents. This should be done as close as possible to the point where they are generated. The widespread belief that a spent chrome tanning bath is waste should also be refuted as quickly as possible. Such liquids usually contain a quantity of chemicals: chromium (III) salts are potentially toxic - the risk of oxidation to chromate cannot always be excluded - and are valuable substances which should not be wasted. Thus, not only environmental but also economic considerations are important.

Other constituents of waste water are said to be reduced by pretreatment in the plant itself: screening of solids and subsequent neutralization of alkaline partial streams, followed by presedimentation, can be accomplished without any costly or highly sophisticated techniques. Even small tanneries can implement these pretreatment steps without any major investment.

Effluent control

Only if every leather processing plant carries out these pretreatment stages can subequent chemical and biological treatment in an ordinary effluent treatment plant be efficient and economical.

The present state of the art in effluent control and treatment in Germany is a result of the principle of treating effluents and pollutants as close as possible to the point where they are generated. Only in this way can dilution or combination with other effluent streams be avoided. Treatment, recovery or detoxification of pollutants can be carried out with a minimum of equipment and at minimum cost immediately following the point of generation.

Regulations should therefore stipulate not only that waste water streams must be separated, but also how the separated streams are to be treated, naturally in combination with different standard limit values for the different constituents. Furthermore, regulations should define minimum technical requirements, specifying which technology has to be employed in order to meet them.

The approach to pollution control must therefore be changed, from end-of-pipe treatment systems to in-plant methods.

The recommendations in Table I were made for the treatment of effluents and solid wastes from a cluster of tanneries comprising numerous very small ("cottage"), some small and a few medium-sized tanneries in the vicinity of Bogota, Columbia.

All effluents containing chromium should be collected separately and the chromium recovered for reuse in the process after adding fresh chromium salt.

Chromium recycling

Larger tanneries can afford to buy a recycling unit of their own. The minimum size is normally for between 500 and 1000 cattle hides per day. A prefabricated unit from a western country costs at least US$ 60,000 - 100,000. However, a plant can be produced in practically any country using locally available materials.

Table 1: Principles of Treatment of Tannery Effluents

Effluent type

Treatment / Recycling


Used Cr tanning bath

Collection and recovery in recycling plant; larger tanneries recycle Cr in-plant.

Quantitative removal from month. effluents; saving US$ 1,000 per

Used unhairing bath containing sulphide

In-plant collection and oxidation or: or: combined solution, reuse of bath and final recovery

Quantitative removal of sulphide from effluents.

All others

Medium-sized tanneries: neutralization and presedimentation(in-plant); discharge into sewerage system

Reduction of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen

Smaller tanneries:

Demand (COD)

Discharge into sewerage system after screening of effluents.

Total dissolved and suspended solids, etc.

Effluent treatment plant for tannery and domestic effluents with precipitation/flocculation and biological treatment in ponds.

90 - 95 % reduction of BOD COD, solids, tannin and colour.

Chromium recycling is practiced with great success, whether in shared or decentralized plants: for example in Italy, where a large shared chromium recycling plant has been In operation for many years producing more than 21 tons of chromium a day, recovered from the collected spent floats of more than 150 tannieres in the area. The same system has recently been put into operation in Portugal. Large and medium-sized tanneries known to the author in India, China, Colombia and Brazil are also using this system successfully.

In Germany, a large and well known producer of top quality leather has been running a chromium recycling plant since 1923


Rubbish dump of the rich?

Exports of Toxic Waste to the Third World are Made Easier
by Loopholes in International Environmental Legislation

by Angela Girz*

The past few years have seen a major increase in export for toxic waste to Third World countries. The spectacular cases brought to light by international environmental protection organizations like Greenpeace are only the tip of the iceberg. International agreements signed in recent years do not go far enough.

In 1988, on the banks of the Niger in Mali, large piles of used batteries were found. They had been dumped there by a western firm. In the same year a refuse dealer put leaking drums containing over 2000 tons of toxic waste from Italy in a rented yard in Nigeria. A year later the owner of the yard died of cancer. This list of sensational - and shocking - exports of toxic waste to the Third World could be continued almost ad infinitum.

The prosperity of the industrialized countries leaves its marks almost everywhere. According to the UN special agency UNEP, the industrialized countries produce more than 95% of the world's hazardous waste. Increasingly, the very countries that have the strongest environmentalist movements are disposing of their "annoying waste" in a disgraceful manner by exporting it to poorer countries. To add result to injury, some toxic waste consignments are even declared as "humanitarian aid", like the recently exposed illegal export of 480 tonnes of highly toxic plant protection products to Albania from stocks of the former GDR.

Not in my backyard

The high level of environmental awareness in Germany has led to ever more waste substances being recognized as dangerous and ecologically harmful. As increasingly stringent regulations were introduced for treating and disposing of them, the cost of proper disposal rose dramatically. At the same time, the "not in my backyard" mentality of many civic action groups and environmentalist associations prevented the creation of landfill sites and the construction of incineration, processing and recycling plants.

Due to the high cost of disposal within the country, the growing mountains of refuse and the lack of space for landfill, a new type of lucrative colonialism - waste colonialism - has become widespread in Germany, as in other countries. As a result, industry can save the costs of waste disposal and waste traffickers can make millions. The dangerous "leftovers" of industrialized societies are quite simply removed from view. And so a situation of unparalleled cynicism arises, namely that Third World and eastern European countries have to pay - with severe stress on both their ecosystems and public health - for the environmental progress of the rich countries. Thus, the more economical solution of exporting waste to other countries hinders reorientation towards waste avoiding and environmentally compatible manufacturing methods in the industrialized countries.

Instruments of international law

Towards the end of the 1980s, more and more criminal waste exporting practices were brought to light. Consequently, in 1987, the UN special agency UNEP began formulating the Basic Convention on the control of international transport of hazardous waste and its disposal.

The Convention, which was accepted by 115 countries in March 1989 and came into force in May 1992, attempts to control the trade in toxic waste. Hazardous waste is defined in the annex to the Convention. The list of types of refuse to be inspected ranges from hospital and chemical waste to residues produced in the course of industrial waste disposal. The aim of the Convention, which was ratified by 21 countries when it came into effect, is to reduce international trade in hazardous waste to a minimum.

The USA, the European Community (with the exception of France) and Japan, i.e. the main producers of hazardous waste, did not ratify the Convention. African and many Latin American countries regard it as insufficient to put an end to the traffic in toxic waste, due to the many clauses which provide possible ways of avoiding the requirements. In their view the Convention regulates the trade but will not end it. For example, any waste may be exported if the competent authority of the country of destination has given "prior informed consent" and the transit countries have also given their approval.

A requirement to register with the Convention secretariat in Geneva and a re-import requirement for exports which are illegal or fail to reach a consignee were approved. However, the Africans' demands for a ban on exports from industrialized to Third World countries, and for a requirement that exported waste must be treated at the same technological level in the consignee as in the consignor country failed to win acceptance. It was merely agreed that disposal at the final destination must be environmentally compatible, though this was not defined in detail.

The international environmental protection organization Greenpeace criticizes that "the prior informed consent (PIC) requirement does not address the double standards' inherent in waste trade, i.e., allowing wastes to be exported to a place where the environmental and human health protection measures are lower than in the country of export. PIC cannot pretend to be a simple matter of informed choice when we live in a world of such disproportionate economic and political situations."

Moreover, claims Greenpeace, the main objective of the Convention, i.e. to reduce the generation of toxic waste to a minimum, is being undermined by legalized exports, because the OECD countries are still allowed to evade national environmental protection regulations and the high costs of disposal by exporting problem waste to non-OECD countries. There is thus no economic incentive to introduce waste-reducing manufacturing methods.

An important instrument for fighting the international trade in toxic waste is the Lomonvention, which tightens up certain requirements of the Basle Convention. In 1990, at the insistence of the ACP countries, the EC member countries for the first time approved a ban on export of hazardous and radioactive waste to 69 countries in A*ica, the Caribbean and the Pacific region, as part of the LomV Agreement. This is a finance and trade agreement between the European Community (EC) and the 69 ACP countries. In return, the ACP countries promise to prohibit "direct or indirect import of this waste from the Community or other countries into their territory .

Except for Nigeria, the Organization of African States (OAU) refused to sign the Basle Convention and worked out tougher regulations for the region to protect it against waste from the industrialized countries, following the sensational deliveries of toxic waste at the end of the 1980s. In February 1991, 51 African countries signed the Bamako Convention, which prohibits imports of any kind of waste into African countries.

Eastern Europe

Since the change of course in central and eastern European politics, ever more scandals about illegal exports of toxic waste to those countries have come to light in which waste traffickers use the trick of declaring the toxic waste as "merchandise" and thus evade statutory inspection by the authorities. On 20 October 1992, when ratification of the globally applicable Basle Convention was imminent, the environment ministers of the European Community agreed on a new EC regulation "to control and monitor the transport of waste from and into the Community".

The regulation is to come into force in mid-1994.

The EC regulation is intended to combat illegal movements of waste and eliminate the grey area between waste and merchandise. The regulation embodies the principle that the waste should be disposed of in the country of origin (autarchy principle). However, it permits exports of recyclable waste provided the government of the consignee country has confirmed that appropriate recycling plants exist there.

Export of waste to countries outside the 19 states which make up the EC and the EFTA free trade zone are only to be permitted if there is a bilateral agreement to that effect between the consignor and the consignee countries.

The recycling loophole, which allegedly permits free trade with reusable waste, is a target of particular criticism by Greenpeace, which claims that practically any kind of waste can be redeclared as recyclable or as a raw material for industrial processes. Resourceful waste traffickers can thus shift hazardous waste with impunity, declaring it as fertilizer, fuel, topping for roads, building materials etc. In this context Greenpeace points to a series of spectacular attempts to export toxic waste, allegedly for recycling, which put Germany at the centre of international scandals.


For Greenpeace, the only way to stop toxic waste continually being declared as "merchandise" and exports of hazardous waste for alleged "recycling purposes" is by a comprehensive EC export ban covering such cases. But Greenpeace also warns against the risk of a dual waste concept resulting from the EC regulation that makes a distinction between waste which is "recoverable" and that which is "to be disposed of". In its criticism of the regulation it points out that, "even in completely legitimate recovery projects,'recycling'plans are always concerned with the ultimate disposal of the waste, unless steps have been taken to ensure that it is returned to its country of origin. Nothing can be recycled 100 %. So the residues, which are usually the chief constituent of hazardous waste, are finally disposed of on the territory of the consignee country".

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that 250.000 tonnes of toxic waste are exported every year to the Third World alone. Despite advances in international environmental legislation there are still about 100 countries in the world which have no regulations to protect them against waste imports.

At the first conference following the Basle Convention, in Montevideo (Uruguay) at the end of 1992, the interests of the industrialized countries which depend on waste exports became clear. Countries which had signed the Convention but not yet ratified it were also allowed to attend as observers. Opening the conference, UNEP Director Tolby had suggested that all toxic waste exports from western industrialized countries to eastern European and Southern countries should be banned. But the proposal foundered due to the resistance of the USA, Japan and the EC countries. Their attitude was criticized accordingly by the developing countries.

The question is how long the western industrialized countries can afford to carry on abusing the developing countries and eastern Europe as dumping grounds and thus evade responsibility for the waste produced by their prosperous, highly developed economies.


The international conventions formulated in recent years are not stringent enough to regulate the export of toxic waste from industrialized to the developing countries. The former generate 95% of all the toxic waste in the world. As environmental movements repeatedly reveal, the urge to get rid of the irksome refuse is increasing. The author outlines the new international regulations for controlling toxic waste.


Les conventions internationales blies ces deris ann ne sont pas suffisantes pour rer les exportations de dets toxiques des pays industriels vers les pays en vole de dloppement. 95 % de l'ensemble des dets toxiques vent grdans les pays industriels. Le besoin de se drrasser de dets gnts en les exportant se fait pressant, comme le duvrent sans cesse les logistes. L'auteur que les nouvelles rementations internation ales pour le contrdes dets toxiques.


Los acuerdos internacionales elaborados en los os ano regular suficientemente la exportacie residuos tos de pas industrializados a pas en v de desarrollo. Un 95 por ciento los desechos peligrosos que se producen a nivel mundial provienen de los pas industrializados. Seg han comprobado una y otra vez las organizaciones ecologistas, crece cada vez mas el afde deshacerse de los molestos desechos a travde las mencionadas exportaciones. La autora resume los nuevos reglamentos internacionales pare controlar los residuos tos.