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BRIEFFebruary 11, 2022

Solid Waste Management

The World Bank

Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank


Around the world, waste generation rates are rising. In 2020, the world was estimated to generate 2.24 billion tonnes of solid waste, amounting to a footprint of 0.79 kilograms per person per day. With rapid population growth and urbanization, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 73% from 2020 levels to 3.88 billion tonnes in 2050.

Compared to those in developed nations, residents in developing countries, especially the urban poor, are more severely impacted by unsustainably managed waste. In low-income countries, over 90% of waste is often disposed in unregulated dumps or openly burned. These practices create serious health, safety, and environmental consequences. Poorly managed waste serves as a breeding ground for disease vectors, contributes to global climate change through methane generation, and can even promote urban violence.

Managing waste properly is essential for building sustainable and livable cities, but it remains a challenge for many developing countries and cities. Effective waste management is expensive, often comprising 20%–50% of municipal budgets. Operating this essential municipal service requires integrated systems that are efficient, sustainable, and socially supported.


The World Bank finances and advises on solid waste management projects using a diverse suite of products and services, including traditional loans, results-based financing, development policy financing, and technical advisory. World Bank-financed waste management projects address the entire lifecycle of waste—from generation to collection and transportation, and finally treatment and disposal.

Objectives that guide the Bank’s solid waste management projects and investments include:

  • Infrastructure: The World Bank provides capital investments to build or upgrade waste sorting and treatment facilities, close dumps, construct or refurbish landfills, and provide bins, dumpsters, trucks, and transfer stations.
  • Legal structures and institutions: Projects advise on sound policy measures and coordinated institutions for the municipal waste management sector.
  • Financial sustainability: Through the design of taxes and fee structures, and long-term planning, projects help governments improve waste cost containment and recovery.
  • Citizen engagement: Behavior change and public participation is key to a functional waste system. The World Bank supports designing incentives and awareness systems to motivate waste reduction, source-separation and reuse.
  • Social inclusion: Resource recovery in most developing countries relies heavily on informal workers, who collect, sort, and recycle 15%–20% of generated waste. Projects address waste picker livelihoods through strategies such as integration into the formal system, as well as the provision of safe working conditions, social safety nets, child labor restrictions, and education.
  • Climate change and the environment: Projects promote environmentally sound waste disposal. They support greenhouse gas mitigation through food loss and waste reduction, organic waste diversion, and the adoption of treatment and disposal technologies that capture biogas and landfill gas. Waste projects also support resilience by reducing waste disposal in waterways, addressing debris management, and safeguarding infrastructure against flooding.
  • Health and safety: The World Bank’s work in municipal waste management improves public health and livelihoods by reducing open burning, mitigating pest and disease vector spreading, and preventing crime and violence.
  • Knowledge creation: The World Bank helps governments plan and explore locally appropriate solutions through technical expertise, and data and analytics. What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 captures the latest trends in waste management. 

The World Bank’s waste management engagement spans multiple development areas, including energy, environmental sustainability, food and agriculture, health and population, social protection, transportation, urban development, and water.


Since 2000, the World Bank has committed over $4.7 billion to more than 340 solid waste management programs in all six regions of World Bank engagement. Recent or committed infrastructure lending and technical assistance have supported numerous initiatives, including:

East Asia and the Pacific

  • In Indonesia, a $100 million loan will support a $1 billion national program to reform waste management practices for around 70 participating cities, impacting around 50 million people. The loan will support the strengthening of local policies and institutions, closure and rehabilitation of old and informal dumpsites, and installation of sustainable disposal sites including modern sanitary landfills with landfill gas collection mechanisms.
  • In China, a results-based incentive program has motivated household kitchen waste separation. The $80 million loan has also supported the construction of a modern anaerobic digestion facility to ferment and recover energy from organic waste, which will benefit 3 million people.
  • In Vietnam, investments in solid waste management are helping the city of Can Tho prevent clogging of drains, which could result in flooding. Similarly, in the Philippines, investments are helping Metro Manila reduce flood risk by minimizing solid waste ending up in waterways. By focusing on improved collection systems, community-based approaches, and providing incentives, the waste management investments are contributing to reducing marine litter, particularly in Manila Bay.

Europe and Central Asia

  • In Belarus, $25 million of a World Bank loan is supporting the introduction of a regional approach to solid waste management. The loan aims to support construction of regional waste management facilities and closure of relevant dumpsites, and provide technical assistance to the sector more broadly.
  • In Azerbaijan, World Bank loans supported the rehabilitation of the main landfill site and establishment of a state-owned waste management company, increasing the population served by the formal solid waste management system from 53% in 2008 to 74% in 2012. Support also led to further sustainable waste management practices, helping achieve a 25% recycling and reuse rate.
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, World Bank loans financed the rehabilitation of existing disposal sites, development of regional landfills, wild dump closures, and supportive equipment. Through the infrastructure investments and technical assistance on SWM issues, the loans helped increase access to the formal waste management system from 25% to 66% of the population.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • In Argentina, $40 million in loans and grants helped to reduce and properly treat food waste through partnerships with food banks and retailers, close over 70 dumpsites, and construct 11 waste facilities.
  • In Sint Maarten, the World Bank is providing a $25 million grant for emergency debris management with a focus on dumpsite management, in addition to broader sectoral support. There is ongoing support to develop a national solid waste management strategy and investment plans to further develop the solid waste management sector in an integrated manner.
  • In Jamaica, community participation and waste collection services improved in 18 communities through results-based financing and infrastructure investments. Waste activities also led to job creation and contributed to a crime prevention and reduction program.

Middle East and North Africa

  • In Morocco, a series of Development Policy Loans totaling $500 million improved citizen engagement and transparency, strengthened private sector partnerships and accountability, increased fee collection, and supported better working conditions for—and the social inclusion of—20,000 informal workers.
  • In the West Bank, loans have supported the construction of three landfill sites that serve over 2 million residents, enabled dump closure, developed sustainable livelihood programs for waste pickers, and linked payments to better service delivery through results-based financing.

South Asia

  • In Nepal, a results-based financing project of $4.3 million increased user fee collection and improved waste collection services in five municipalities, benefitting 800,000 residents.
  • In Pakistan, a $5.5 million dollar project supported a composting facility in Lahore in market development and the sale of emission reduction credits under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Activities resulted in reductions of 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents and expansion of daily compost production volume from 300 to 1000 tonnes per day.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • In Liberia, $10.5 million has been committed to improve waste collection and construct a new sanitary landfill and transfer stations. 
  • In Burkina Faso, the World Bank has supported the solid waste sector with over $67 million in loans since 2005, supporting waste sector planning and construction of two landfills. The capital city, Ouagdougou, now collects an average of 78% of waste generated, which is significantly higher than the 46% average in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Learn more about the World Bank’s work on solid waste management here.