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publication October 29, 2021

Bridging the Gap in Solid Waste Management


. By 2050, waste production will be 73 percent higher than it was in 2020.

Bridging the Gap in Solid Waste Management: Governance Requirements for Results discusses practices for governing the solid waste management sector in a context of pressing need.

The extraordinarily large quantities of waste that either go unmanaged or are inadequately managed, and the increasingly higher quantities of waste generated globally gives a serious reason for concern. . In a business-as-usual-scenario, the gap between the waste that is currently generated and the waste that is managed properly will widen further based on the projected growth in waste generation.

Significant investment and development support will be needed to simply maintain the status quo. A cumulative improvement to public health and environmental conditions locally and globally will require significantly enhancing investment and support programs to scale up waste collection, disposal and treatment capacity to both cover rising waste generation and progressively narrow the existing service gap. Without a dramatic improvement in waste collection coverage and waste recovery and disposal practices, the scale of current environmental impacts will increase markedly.

The achievement of national targets and objectives depends on the ability of sub-national authorities to provide waste management services on a reliable basis. When a disconnection or ‘gap’ exists between aspirations of the central level waste policy and the ability to meet the aspirations through waste management services at the local level, ambition as expressed in national strategies or international commitments remains unfulfilled. A ‘gap’ between intent and actual performance usually points to a failure in institutional frameworks and the enabling environment.

Central authorities often regard solid waste management as a local function and beyond their mandate. Central ministries often do not see it as being either their role or practical to provide the guidance, support and resources needed by local authorities to implement national policy. Yet, the primary responsibility for setting the overall institutional, policy and legislative framework for the municipal waste management sector belongs with central governments. The primary responsibility for providing on-the-ground services and for ensuring the controlled management of solid waste, on the other hand, lies with the local authorities.


  • Creating the right institutional structure for effective waste management
  • Policy, planning & legal frameworks to achieve urban and national solid-waste goals
  • Financing to ensure investment and sustained operational funds and to provide incentives for change
  • Organizational models for service delivery in a local context
  • Including stakeholders and the informal sector in planning and service delivery
  • Policy instruments to advance along the waste hierarchy and towards circular economy