Concepts for sustainable waste management

Project description

Title: Advisory project: concepts for sustainable waste management
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Supraregional
Overall term: 2016 to 2019


Raw materials are becoming scarcer and energy more expensive, and all around the world, soil, air and water pollution pose a risk to sustainable development. Waste management is closely associated with both these problems: waste disposal issues are exacerbated by changing patterns of consumption, industrial development and urbanisation; this in turn means that traditional systems for solid waste disposal and recycling are no longer appropriate. This problem affects informal settlements in particular.

In Europe, waste is increasingly being used to produce both materials and energy, and recycling now saves more greenhouses gases than it generates. However, many developing and emerging countries are faced with the major challenge of improving their inadequate and unsustainable waste management systems. Waste must no longer be deposited in residential areas and uncontrolled landfills or end up on illegal rubbish tips and in waterways. It accumulates in the world’s oceans as marine litter, and is blown across continents and pulverized by the action of the wind, sun and waves. Plastic waste in particular does considerable damage to flora and fauna and finds its way into the human food chain in the form of microparticles. Since 80 per cent of the waste that ends up in the ocean originates from land-based sources, uncontrolled waste deposits in waterways and oceans are largely the consequence of non-existent or inadequate waste management.

Development cooperation projects are not doing enough to take account of and analyse technical, organisational and financial strategies for sustainable waste and resource management and previous experience with the issue; these factors should feature more prominently in the sectoral discussion at national and international level. Waste management is connected with many other areas, including urban development, water, energy and food security. This, too, has been greatly overlooked in the past.


Technical, organisational and financial strategies for sustainable waste and resource management are incorporated into the sectoral discussion at national and international level and in development cooperation projects.


The advisory project draws on the results of completed and ongoing programmes. It compares experience gained through German and international development cooperation and takes into consideration the environmental, social and economic aspects of waste management. GIZ promotes cooperation with the national and international private sector with regard to training, knowledge transfer, networking and strategy development. The project serves as a source of knowhow, mediation and advisory services.
Strategy development activities focus on the following topics:

  1. Waste-to-energy technologies
    In recent years, waste disposal companies have increasingly been offering partners in developing and emerging countries technologies for recovering energy from waste, based in part on their potential for climate change mitigation. The project supports decision-makers in selecting adapted waste-to-energy technology and evaluating product offers.
  2. Avoidance of marine litter
    Various national policy instruments are being examined to determine their effectiveness in reducing marine litter; models are generated to demonstrate their economic, environmental and social impact. The findings are used to produce recommendations for appropriate policy approaches and to identify different options for implementing them.
  3. Electronic waste
    Lessons learned from providing policy advice and carrying out activities relating to electronic waste management are analysed and made available to international bodies for use in international processes. Building on ongoing activities, new strategies for waste collection and disposal are developed and implemented jointly with development cooperation projects.
  4. Economic instruments
    For local and national administrations, the costs associated with waste management are considerable. In order to reduce these costs or meet them in a way that is effective and socially responsible, they must first be made transparent. In addition to the traditional approaches to financing, such as fee systems, the advisory project is increasingly developing economic incentive systems to avoid or recycle waste. The focus here is on concepts such as product taxation, deposit systems or user charges.

In addition, the project identifies ways in which waste management can contribute to urban development and climate change mitigation. It also incorporates German experience in waste management into activities at international level, for example the discussion on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, dialogue on the water, energy and food security nexus, and initiatives set up by other donors and international organisations.


German development cooperation projects now implement the outcomes of analyses and resulting recommendations for action in their day-to-day operations. In so doing, they benefit from the sectoral and cross-sectoral approach of the advisory project.

In Kosovo, for example, the urban development project Modernisation of Municipal Services is using previously drafted guidelines on operator models for structuring the local waste management industry. In collaboration with the advisory project, a training module was developed in Kosovo to provide further training for employees in local authorities and waste disposal companies. Similar measures are being planned for other countries.


Further information