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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
Waste reduction

1.2.6 Conclusion

In summary, there are four main ways that most city governments in developing countries can enhance waste reduction:

  • Inform citizens about source separation and recycling, and the needs of waste workers: extensive public education is needed to develop understanding of the need for further source separation to improve the potential for composting and to remove the stigma of association with waste materials.
  • Promote recycling industries and enterprises.
  • Divert organics. The greatest relief for the waste authority will come from reduction of organics, which implies, in the main, successful composting. Keeping organics pure for composting will require more thorough source separation than is done at present.
  • Advocate key areas for waste reduction at the manufacturing level (e.g., reduction of plastic packaging; coding of plastics to improve recycling).

Waste generation and waste reduction reflect many complex economic and social factors. No city or town can adopt recommendations in a vacuum; each must examine its own wastes, and the potential for extending waste reduction. There are many possible ways to implement the general dictum that waste reduction should be the first principle of solid waste management. Humane concern for waste workers must temper the drive to greater efficiency. During periods of technical change, there are winners and losers, and in the field of materials recovery there should be atten- tion to those who Òlose outÓ as operations become more efficient. In most cases, the resulting municipal strategy will be a mix of private and public sector activities.

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