Integrated waste management in Altamira municipality

Project description

Title: Integrated waste management in Altamira municipality, Tamaulipas
Commissioning party: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mexico
Partner: Municipality of Altamira
Overall term: 2006 to 2011


The municipality of Altamira, located in the southern part of the state of Tamaulipas on the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the region's most important economic centres together with the cities of Tampico and Ciudad Madero. Close to a quarter of its population live in these three locations in an area covering just 2% of the state's territory.

A standard for integrated waste management came into effect in Mexico at the end of 2004. It regulates how municipalities deal with household waste, but only a few municipalities have fully complied with the standard to date. Altamira also lacked the necessary experience and knowledge about the collection, transportation, processing and final disposal of household waste. However, the municipality does have a landfill for the final disposal of wastes that complies with the standard.


The Municipality of Altamira puts in place a waste management plan that promotes sorting and properly managing wastes, stronger institutional structures at municipal level and citizen involvement in waste management.


The project worked together with the chemicals group BASF as part of a development partnership with the private sector, and consisted of three phases. A waste management plan was formulated for the municipality in the first phase (2006-2007) with support from GIZ. The document contained an in-depth description of the waste management situation in Altamira, an evaluation of critical factors and a review of short, medium and long-term strategies to implement the plan.

The second phase (2007–2008) started with a pilot project on sorting and collecting waste in selected urban areas in Altamira. At the same time, the project gained a second partner from the private sector: TLA, a joint venture between Shell, Total and Mitsui. The third phase (2008–2011) focused on developing the infrastructure required for sound waste management and on expanding waste sorting to the entire municipality. Steps were also taken to make the project more sustainable, such as strengthening the municipality's institutional structures in the field of waste management. Citizen participation was also promoted for this reason. People were not only encouraged to sort waste generated in their homes, but were also included in a follow-up commission.

Partners in the development partnership with the private sector made the following contributions towards implementing the waste management plan for Altamira:

  • GIZ made available experts in urban waste management who were responsible for advising and training experts at municipal level. GIZ was also responsible for backstopping the entire project. GIZ entered into a contract with a consulting firm to design the composting facility.
  • BASF and TLA financed the composting facility and a campaign to raise awareness of sorting, recycling and managing waste among people living in Altamira. BASF also covered the costs of a design for the planned waste collection point.
  • The Municipality of Altamira coordinated activities on the ground. This work included selecting the site for the composting facility, supervising building work, preparing and conducting planning and training activities, implementing the awareness-raising campaign and introducing waste sorting at municipal level.

Results achieved so far

The Municipality of Altamira has introduced a waste management plan and waste sorting, improved its management of waste and strengthened institutional structures in this field. A recycling centre with a composting facility and extended waste sorting has also been designed, and its construction is under way. The public was also made more aware of sorting, recycling and managing waste, and became more involved in policy decisions in this area.

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