15.06.2021

Solutions for sustainable waste management

e-waste

IKI project Urban Pathways launches urban demonstration projects for sustainable waste management in key emerging economies. Photo: UN-Habitat

In many countries, a lack of adequate waste management poses hazards to both humans and the environment. Mountains of waste are produced, particularly in cities, and sustainable waste disposal is crucial to protect the health of citizens. The project ‘URBAN PATHWAYS: Supporting low emission plans for urban basic services in the context of the New Urban Agenda’ funded by International Climate Initiative (IKI) supports national and local governments in key emerging economies to develop national action programmes and practical local implementation plans to promote sustainable and low emission urban development. The project launched several demonstration projects for sustainable waste management in cooperation with its partner cities.

Waste prevention projects in Nairobi

In Nairobi, Urban Pathways Coordinator UN-Habitat used the recently launched Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT) to collect data on future waste volumes. It used the data generated to work with local stakeholders to identify various policy measures that could improve municipal waste management and promote an urban circular economy. Gaps in the infrastructure were also identified that must be addressed to ensure sustainable waste disposal and management. Partners include Nairobi Metropolitan Services, large local waste collection and recycling companies, community-based organisations (CBOs) involved in waste collection in low-income areas, the unofficial sector and representatives of the unofficial sector.  The results were included in Nairobi's Sustainable Waste Management Action Plan 2020-2022.

Additional external funding from the Alliance to End Plastic Waste enabled the Urban Pathways team to develop further measures to reduce uncollected waste and increase plastic recycling in Nairobi. It is currently working closely with Nairobi Metropolitan Services and other local and international stakeholders. The aim is to develop a project that will increase the waste collection and recycling capacities of the Kenyan capital. The team is working with the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry to develop an Extended Producer Responsibility system in Kenya. This strategy will include all the environmental costs associated with a product throughout its life-cycle in the market price. As part of the EPR system, financial resources flow from EPR organisations to local cleaning groups that serve unofficial settlements to put plastics back into the recycling chain.

Pilot project for e-waste in Quito

Another project to address sustainable waste management is the ‘e-nnovating Quito: sustainable e-waste management supported by collect-and-learn-truck’. It was developed as part of Urban Pathways and selected as one of eight pilot projects in the PREVENT Waste Alliance's ‘Call for Solutions’. The PREVENT Waste Alliance is an initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Implementation partners are the city authorities in Quito, Vertmonde (the largest recycling company in Ecuador), the Wuppertal Institute for Environment, Climate, Energy and Cylos GmbH. The initiative was launched in early 2021.

Ecuador generated up to 99,000 ton of e-waste in 2019, of which under 3% percent was recycled by official and established recycling companies. The aim of the e-nnovating Quito project is therefore to design and implement the first e-waste collection system in Ecuador. Mobile collection units will be set up to serve the entire metropolitan area of the Ecuadorian city of Quito, while also providing a learning centre for topics related to recycling and management of e-waste. This innovative dual function is an effective way to increase collection rates, and to reach and engage citizens to raise the project’s profile and impact. The mobile collection points are supplemented by a web platform to enable citizens to follow the collection routes and access educational content online. The project will also gather further data on the generation of e-waste.

In addition, the project will develop policy recommendations to anchor the principle of extended producer responsibility at an urban level and to implement it in other cities and extend it to other waste streams. This requires cooperation at a national level, and the various stakeholders are currently formulating a law on life-cycle management. Moreover, the results of the project will be analysed and projects can then be rolled out in other Urban Pathways partner cities.

Neighbourhood waste projects

The Urban Pathways project is also developing local, participatory projects in neighbourhoods with the partner cities of Belo Horizonte, Quito and Kochi that will operate on the interface between mobility and waste management. Information and training for composting and waste separation will be provided and implemented as part of temporary ‘play streets’ and traffic calming measures.