April 13, 2021

Managing Solid Waste in Developing Countries

A comprehensive tool for solid waste management, called Best Practices for Solid Waste Management: A Guide for Decision-Makers in Developing Countries, is now available from EPA. The guidance is available in English, French, and Spanish and is targeted toward state and local government authorities. Containing a plethora of important topics for setting a national waste management program on the right path, the guidance is most applicable for medium and large urban areas.

More than a dozen content sections contain insight on a wide variety of solid waste issues, such as stakeholder engagement, economic considerations, waste characterization, and energy recovery. Each of these sections is broken into additional topics for a better understanding of holistic waste management systems. For example, the section on organic waste management discusses why it is essential to focus on organic waste, treatment options, and numerous best practices.

Several case studies are presented based on waste management success stories in developing countries. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for example, there are independent waste collectors who service practically inaccessible neighborhoods. However, these collectors often lack the necessary occupational health gear. The U.S. Agency for International Development helped provide training to these collector cooperatives and created a network to allow them to more effectively advocate for higher wages, protective health gear, and access to health insurance.

Appendices contain dozens of links to key resources available from both U.S. and international organizations. Region-specific resources for solid waste management are included as are tables containing information on public engagement/communication tools.


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This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.