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About UNEP
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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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Newsletter and Technical Publications
<Municipal Solid Waste Management>

Sound Practices
Overview of the Sound Practices section

1.1.3 Background conditions that affect sound practices

As discussed above, there are many factors that affect what should be considered a sound practice in a particular situation. Decision makers need to assess how the specific, prevailing background conditions constrain the choices available. It is unlikely that all of the following points will be important in any one instance, but the list of conditions that help to determine what is sound practice includes:

Level of development

  • economic development, including relative cost of capital, labor, and other resources;
  • technological development; and
  • human resource development, in the MSW field and in the society as a whole.

Natural conditions

  • physical conditions, such as topography, soil characteristics, and type and proximity of bodies of water;
  • climate temperature, rainfall, propensity for thermal inversions, and winds;
    and
  • specific environmental sensitivities of a region. Conditions primarily affected by human activities
  • waste characteristics density, moisture content, combustibility, recyclability, and inclusion of hazardous waste in MSW; and
  • city characteristics size, population density, and infrastructure development.

Social and political considerations

  • degree to which decisions are constrained by political considerations, and the nature of those constraints;
  • degree of importance assigned to community involvement (including that of women and the poor) in carrying out MSWM activities; and
  • social and cultural practices.

These background conditions can occur in a huge number of combinations. This means, once again, that decision making has to be honed to a particular situation. The Source Book, in its role of offering guidance on sound practices, refers to these conditions where they affect what should be considered sound practice, but it cannot substitute for on-the-ground analysis of the interplay of these factors.

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