Challenges in Solid Waste Management in Buenos Aires : From a Sustainable Development Perspective

University essay from KTH/Industriell ekologi

Author: Anna Nilsson; [2016]

Keywords: ;


The waste treatment in urban areas in low and middleincomecountries with growingeconomies and populations is an emerging problem. The increasing consumption along withgrowing environmental issues requests well functioning waste systems and highresponsibility.This project examines the solid waste treatment system in Buenos Aires, reviewing thehistory from the start of a public system, recent history and the current situation. From thisthe main challenges for Buenos Aires solid waste management to develop in a sustainableway are identified. By interviewing different stakeholders about facts and opinions and bystudying other reports on the subject, the future is debated and possible future scenarios andtheir pros and cons.In the history of Buenos Aires solid waste treatment the informal sector has played asignificant role. The informal recyclers have been the only recyclers in the area and have meta lot of opposition from the Government and the rest of the society. Instead the Governmenthave put their focus on landfill companies which still is the current main way of solid wastetreatment in the area. Lately, “green” campaigns has been driven and investments have beenmade in new technology, such as MBT, as an effort to reduce the amount of waste that endsup in landfills. Also, agreements have been made between waste pickers cooperatives in thecity and the Government, in efforts to formalize the work of waste pickers. Additionally, nongovernmental organizations are expanding and putting more energy in the waste treatmentsector, resulting in new projects with the ambition to increase the rate of recycled material.Despite these efforts, the landfill areas are still expanding and the waste pickers situation isnot improving. A main problem is the Government distributing too much money in newtechnology before reducing the amounts of generated waste and securing a good qualitywaste.The main challenges are identified as the situation of the informal recycler section, economicproblems, the lack of space and infrastructure, the quality of the waste and poor knowledgeamong decision makers and the residents.Four future scenarios are discussed; Business as usual, incineration, improved recycling andnew technology. The conclusion is that the most favourable choice from a sustainabledevelopment point of view would be to put the focus on an improved recycling system.

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