UNDP Around the world

Waste Management

Waste Management

1. Integrated solid waste management

UNDP programmes on sound waste management for non-hazardous waste streams are highly decentralized to UNDP Country Offices. Around 20 UNDP Country Offices world-wide are engaged in general, typically municipal, waste related projects or activities.

The majority of such UNDP country level activities support:

  • Waste policy and planning at various levels of government covering the entire territory, specific states or municipalities.
  • Strengthening of national regulatory frameworks, their implementation and enactment.
  • Capacity-building of concerned institutions for ensuring sustainability.
  • Private-public partnerships (PPP) on waste management.

Approximately 20-25% of UNDP’s waste projects are grass roots activities, involving local communities and NGOs in addressing local needs by applying practical waste management solutions.

2. Reducing UPOPs emissions from uncontrolled waste burning

With GEF grants and in support of the Stockholm Convention, UNDP supports initiatives in the field of non-hazardous waste management that aim to reduce releases of Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs). Such emissions result from the uncontrolled and indiscriminate burning of household waste posing significant threats to human and environmental health.

Particularly in countries where large volumes of municipal waste are generated on a daily basis and where sound waste management systems do not exist or are limited, municipal waste is often uncontrollably burned at dump sites and landfills in order to recuperate valuable waste streams (e.g. metals) as well as to compact waste volumes.

To address challenges with respect to waste management and to reduce UPOPS emissions, UNDP provides developing countries and their cities with planning and policy advice as well as technical assistance focusing on UPOPs reduction from uncontrolled burning. As a part of national efforts to establish Integrated Waste Management Strategies, the recuperation, recycling and marketing of valuable waste streams is an integral part.

For more information on UNDP’s activities in this area download the brochure: UNDP and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants or visit the web page Managing Chemicals of Concern (POPs, ODS, heavy metals)

3. Programmes on hazardous waste streams

In addition to the overall support for general waste management, mostly with grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP implements programmes managing a number of hazardous waste streams that are particularly problematic due to their human health and environmental consequences. Such waste streams often concern past environmental liabilities, stockpiles of hazardous waste or highly contaminated sites, but also address obsolete consumer appliances and other special waste streams. In particular UNDP programmes cover:

4. Management of PCB containing waste

In spite of the cessation of production, PCBs continue to be a pollutant of major concern on an international scale. There are a substantial amount of PCBs still in use due to the long lifetime of power equipment, such as transformers, and the exemption made in many countries for their contained use until end-of-life of the equipment.

To ensure that PCBs are managed in a way minimizing human exposure and environmental releases, UNDP supports sizeable PCB management programmes in the following ten countries: Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, Morocco, Slovak Republic and Uruguay.

5. Obsolete Pesticides

UNDP assists countries in the implementation of obsolete pesticides projects through building countries’ capacity to soundly manage and dispose of obsolete pesticides. UNDP is currently assisting a handful of countries, including China, Georgia, Honduras, Mauritius, Nicaragua and Vietnam with pesticide waste management initiatives. There are several multi-contaminant projects implemented by UNDP that include important obsolete pesticide components.

6. Healthcare waste management

A partnership between UNDP, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other major donors and stakeholders, is assisting several countries (including Argentina, India, Latvia, Lebanon, Philippines, Senegal and Vietnam, among others) in developing and maintaining best healthcare waste management practices in ways that are both locally appropriate and globally replicable. The programme’s ultimate goal is protection of public health at the local level as well as the protecting the global environment from the impacts of dioxin and mercury releases.

The project “Demonstrating and Promoting Best Techniques and Practices for Reducing Health-Care Waste to Avoid Environmental Releases of Dioxins and Mercury” is a partnership between UNDP, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international NGO Health Care Without Harm, as well as other major donors and stakeholders and is assisting seven countries – Argentina, India, Latvia, Lebanon, Philippines, Senegal and Viet Nam – in developing and sustaining best healthcare waste management practices in ways that are both locally appropriate and globally replicable. In each participating country, the project is developing model hospitals to demonstrate best practices in healthcare waste management.


Here you can watch a video, which highlights the work of the model hospital King George’s Medical University in Lucknow, India, their new autoclave technologies and their recycling of sterilized/shredded materials, the management of mercury waste and the non-mercury devices, the model central treatment plant in Chennai with its new autoclave-shredder and the improved pollution control for the incinerator (India requires that certain types of medical waste be incinerated), the new biomedical waste management rules which are being finalized with input from our project, the national training program, and comments by interviewees on the Stockholm Convention and the upcoming mercury treaty.

7. Consumer appliance waste

The rapid growth in the daily usage of various electrical appliances - ranging from mobile phones to computers and white products (washing machines, refrigerators etc.) - has increased both the rate of renewal of computing equipment as well as the volume of equipment that is manufactured globally. Higher volumes and shorter technical life spans have led to large amounts of electric and electronic equipment becoming obsolete.

UNDP is working on these issues from two different angles:

Waste management as a part of introducing more environmental benign consumer appliances.

Old consumer appliances pose a challenge from various perspectives. Such appliances are typically very uneconomic due to high energy use, but also include waste streams that are particularly problematic, such as ozone depleting substances (ODS), mercury, etc. UNDP is working with countries such as Brazil and Ghana, in introducing schemes that support the waste management aspects of obsolete equipment which arise when more environmentally benign appliances are introduced.

Management of e-waste with emphasis on computing equipment.

UNDP is both at the Country Office level, as well as in cooperation with the Basel Convention PACE working group, assessing country-specific situations on electronic and electric waste and developing plans to manage this waste in an environmentally sound manner. This programme has so far been initiated in six countries (Burkina Faso, Egypt, Jordan, El Salvador, Mexico, and Serbia) with rapid acceleration expected due to increasing requests from developing countries to manage such wastes.