Adequate solid waste management maintains a close relationship with any country’s public health, environment, carbon emissions, economic development, and tourism. As population and economic development increase, waste production increases as well. 
At the IDB, we support our lending member countries in their efforts to provide universal access to solid waste management services, promoting the incorporation of circular economy principles, incentivizing waste prevention and recovery, and ensuring the correct final disposal of items that cannot be reused. We provide technical support and financing for projects that allow those objectives to be reached, through the financing of investments and capacity building, knowledge, and innovation. We support our clients in reaching goals such as:

  • Ensuring universal access to collection, transport, and final disposal services in a consistent, quality manner, as well as improving operational performance, which facilitates proper risk management and environmental and social impacts caused by inadequate management of waste.
  • Promoting the prevention of waste generation, reducing consumption, reuse, and industry responsibility, with special emphasis on improving responsible management of plastics, via projects and activities aimed at changing the behavior of waste generators, selective collection, recycling, a market analysis of recyclables, as well as the treatment and recovery of waste.  
  • Strengthening the sector’s institutions and governance, as well as institutional performance, with respect to planning, regulation, and oversight, design and implementation of plans, policies and standards, information systems, and social inclusion of ex officio recyclers. Develop policies, programs, and projects to implement the polluter pays principle, via fee systems to ensure the sustainability of operations, design financial instruments, and identify financing alternatives.   
  • Implementing lending models that ensure quality and efficiency of service provision and allow resource leveraging from other sectors. 
  • Introducing technologies and innovation, promoting digital transformation, strengthening of corporate governance and other strategies of research and development that foster the promotion of holistic and innovative solutions, improve waste management, and stimulate sustainable practices by users with respect to their behaviors, and assure the inclusion and participation of all stakeholders.


Good solid waste management generates benefits in public health and in the environment that are amply documented. In addition, it decreases carbon emissions, helps to prevent floods caused by the obstruction of urban drainage systems, prevents plastic and micro-plastic contamination of oceans, can boost tourism, and reduces the exploitation of natural resources, among other benefits. 

Every year, millions of tons of food that are lost or wasted could be better managed to improve food security and decrease waste generation and negative environmental impacts.  
Recycling and recovery open opportunities for new sources of raw materials and energy, which can generate savings and/or income derived from their commercialization, allowing the diversion of waste from their final disposal sites, and, therefore, extending its lifespan. 

In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the state of waste management varies widely among the countries and between rural zones and cities. Some urban zones achieve nearly 100% waste collection coverage, with final disposal in technically operated landfills. In contrast, in other regions and municipalities, service is not provided and, consequently, the people must dispose of waste themselves, burying it or throwing it into bodies of water, or burning it in open-air.

Recycling and waste recovery are carried out with a high participation of trade recyclers, who carry out the collection, recovery, and resale of recovered materials such as paper, cardboard, metal, some plastics, and industrial glass, which they transform into raw materials for different uses. The principles of the circular economy, a ban on single-use plastics, and the involvment of the industrial sector through extended producer responsibility plans are all gaining strength in the region. 

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 underscored that the importance of solid waste management as an essential public service, which needs to continue improving to promote more sustainable development. This activity generates green jobs, which can serve to jump-start the region’s economy, with multiple benefits. 

Solid waste management is related to a greater or lesser extent with 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as: reducing negative environmental impacts in cities by improving municipal solid waste management (SDG 11.6); reducing by half food waste and reducing food loss in production and supply chains (SDG 12.3); achieving ecologically sound management of chemical products and all waste over the course of its lifecycle (SDG 12.4); considerably reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse activities (SDG 12.5); and prevent and reduce marine contamination produced by activities on land (SDG 14.1). These commitments highlight the need to act to improve solid waste management. 



Solid waste, circular economy, emissions reduction, NDC, SDG, climate crisis, green jobs, plastics management, sustainable development, food waste, EVAL

1.    Blogs:

              Bogotá

              Central America

             Mexico

             Argentina (published by the CTI Division)

             Sustainable gastronomy


2.    IDB Publications: 


3.    Regional Evaluation of Solid Waste Management in Latin America and the Caribbean (Evaluación Regional del Manejo de Residuos Sólidos en América Latina y el Caribe)

4.    Alliances:

  • Latitud R: Main regional platform for the articulation of actions, investments, and knowledge with respect to inclusive recycling, which arose from the evolution of the Regional Initiative for Inclusive Recycling, or IRR, created in 2011 by the Water and Sanitation Division of the Inter-American Development Bank, Coca-Cola Latin America , PepsiCo Latin America, the Latin American and Caribbean Recycling workers Network (Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Recicladores), and  Avina Foundation, which were joined by Dow Chemical in 2020 and by Nestlé in 2021.
  • Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Management: Roadmap for the Sustainable Management of Plastics (Pacific Alliance) (Alianza del Pacífico para la Gestión Sostenible: Hoja de Ruta de Gestión Sostenible de Plásticos (Alianza del Pacífico)