Solid waste management (SWM) is a crucial function of local governments around the world, and directly affects public health, the environment, and livelihoods. However, rapid urbanization and population growth place multiple pressures on solid waste management systems, particularly in cities in low- and middle-income countries. In particular, the urban poor are most affected by lack of access to basic SWM services, such as waste collection and disposal.
Yet, the sector also provides numerous opportunities: Improving solid waste management provides a cleaner and healthier environment; improves livability for all city residents; and attracts new investment and tourism, which improve a city’s economic competitiveness, creating jobs, and new business opportunities. SWM also contributes to new sources of energy thus tackling climate change challenges. In these ways, SWM is directly relevant to the World Bank’s goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
Historically, the highest expenditures of local governments is in the SWM sector but – particularly in low- and middle-income country cities – the bulk of expenses goes towards collection and transport instead of treatment and disposal. Another challenge is ensuring the financial sustainability of SWM projects and cost recovery once SWM infrastructure has been created. The world is generating increasing amounts of waste, with large amounts (primarily plastics) ending up in the oceans. However, there is also a paradigm shift from thinking about waste as something to be disposed – “out of sight out of mind” – to a resource that can be used for energy generation, reduce the use and costs associated with virgin resources, and improve our climate change efforts.
Given this background, this e-learning course is designed to look at the SWM sector, with a focus on MSW, from several angles in order to simplify concepts and promote understanding of this sector.
This course runs for 6 weeks.
Week 1: Overview of Solid Waste Management
Understand the basics of SWM, with a focus on municipal solid waste (MSW); introduce core concepts of MSW; importance of SWM for economic development and environmental protection; linking SWM and climate change and marine litter.
Week 2: Solid Waste Management Chain I
Understand the steps in the solid waste management chain; examine appropriate methods of MSW collection, transport, and transfer; learn about processes and costs for various steps from collection to disposal; gain insight into financial, technical, and operational capacities of technologies along the chain.
Week 3: Solid Waste Management Chain II
Understand the steps in the solid waste management chain; examine appropriate methods of MSW treatment, recycling, and disposal; understand processes and costs for various steps from collection to disposal; learn about key issues in operation and maintenance of treatment and disposal facilities, and the value of products from treatment and the value of proper disposal; gain insight into financial, technical, and operational capacities of technologies along the chain.
Week 4: Financial Aspects of Solid Waste Management
Learn about financial aspects of various technologies including capex, opex, and cost recovery; learn about various funding mechanisms for establishing SMW projects.
Week 5: Policies, Institutions, and the Informal Sector
Learn how enabling conditions through policies and legislation help drive economic activity, create employment opportunities, and provide a framework for local governments in the sector; learn how institutions and coordination can improve service delivery and financial performance of the sector.
Week 6: Circular Economy and Innovations in the SWM Sector
Learn about technological innovations and the role of informal workers and women in the sector; become aware of a shift in thinking of waste as a resource to be managed, and not simply disposed of.