Topic Guide: Solid waste management


'By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality, municipal and other waste management.' Target 11.6, Sustainable Development Goals.

11.6 Target has been included in the Sustainable Development Goals in recognition of the scale of the challenge of waste management. Currently, 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal waste are generated globally annually. City governments in developing countries have limited capacity to provide the services necessary to manage this volume of waste. The challenge will become greater. Waste generation is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025 and there are limited prospects for investment in the sector.

This Topic Guide presents a case for improved solid waste management in developing countries and the potential contribution of the sector to the Sustainable Development Goals. The guide, which is organised into five sections, includes evidence from the literature, both published and grey, and from the experience of the authors.

After an initial introduction to the sector and an explanation of some key terms (Section 1), Section 2 focuses on waste generation and on the stages involved in solid waste management. This section also includes a paragraph which describes the issue of healthcare waste management.

Section 3 discusses the potential contribution of improved solid waste management to the Sustainable Development Goals and analyses the impact of improved solid waste management on selected priority sectors for DFID: public health and a cleaner living environment; natural environment; urbanisation; climate change; citizen’s participation and good governance; vulnerable groups; livelihoods; and occupational health and safety.

Section 4 proposes six strategic areas for improving solid waste management in developing countries, which could be adopted and promoted by international development organisations and donors. The strategic areas are selected according to their relevance to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as their relevance to the particular challenges and impacts, considered in the previous sections.

Section 5 highlights gaps and challenges in the sector where further knowledge and research is needed. For instance, gaps and challenges include the necessity of setting up initiatives to support data collection and validation in order to enhance service planning, implementation and monitoring.

The guide is completed by a glossary, an annotated list of selected bibliographical references and a list of additional references.

This Topic Guide has been produced by Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited.


Ali, M.; di Bella, V. Topic Guide: Solid waste management. Evidence on Demand, UK (2016) ix + 55 pp. [DOI: 10.12774/eod_tg.april2016.alimetal]

Topic Guide: Solid waste management

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