How community-based management can support achieving zero waste?

Mansoor Ali, Senior Researcher at LSE Cities

Community Based Waste Management (CBWM) are common in developing countries and has a potential to achieve zero waste. To see this happening, we need to understand the nature of these systems and then to integrate them into policy and practice.

presentation cover photoCBWM comprises of many different initiatives by groups and individuals. A basic form CBWM is a community based organisation, setting waste collection system in their neighbourhood. This includes hiring a waste collector and payment through community contributions. The CBWM monitors the service and help the collector in disposing of waste or recycling through negotiation with the municipality and provision of space. Other types of CBWM includes advocacy for improved services, promotion of recycling, community based composting and getting better services from large waste contractors. CBWM plays an important role in service delivery, where waste services do not reach, such as informal settlements, low income areas and remote areas. Presence of CBWM reduces indiscriminate dumping of waste in open spaces and storm water drains, reducing risks of disease and flooding. Increasingly, CBWM have supported waste separation and working to achieve more ‘separate as you collect’, combining waste collection and separation at source.

To achieve zero waste in cities, CBWM have a potential role. This role can be achieved through working on 4 principles;

1)     Government policies and practices to include CBWM in their outsourcing planning. This means opening opportunities for allowing CBWM as waste collection contractors

2)     Donors and large NGOs to support CBWM in using digital innovation, such as mobile applications to connect supply and demand, regular payments and improved recycling

3)     CBWM must be considered as an important strategy to reduce the impact of climate change. More specifically, reduction of plastics is an important contributor to reduce the risks of urban flooding

4)     Large private sector brands must create a space to work with the CBWM on future policies such as Extended Producers Responsibilities (EPR) and reduction of plastics. CBWM has a potential to link with the people side of value chain, which is always important for waste retrieval.

 To achieve above, it is important that government must recognise the role of CBWM and integrate them into policies and practice. This is illustrated below:

role of CBWM

This think piece is written by Dr Mansoor Ali, a Senior Researcher on the Rubbish, Resources and Residues Research Research Project. He is a freelance waste consultant and founder of a start up company called, Learning in Development.