Colombia: Sustainable waste management policies and sustainable waste practises

The goal of this project is to help Colombian federal government, departments and (cooperating) municipalities and sector organisations develop and implement sustainable waste management policies based on modern principles of waste management.

The project is planned from January 2014 to January 2016.
Planned activities are: mission on producer's responsibility and cooperation on waste management plans; exchange visits to and from Colombia with participation from both private companies and authorities.


Colombia produces approximately 32,000 tons of solid waste per day, or 0.68 kg/capita per day. Over 10,000 tons/day of this waste is generated in the big cities Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Barranquilla. The composition of the waste is approximately as follows (Aluna Consultores, 2011):

  • Organic waste (food and garden): 59%
  • Paper: 5%
  • Cardboard: 4%
  • Plastics: 13%
  • Glass: 2%
  • Metals: 1%
  • Other materials: 16%

In the coming years, Colombia aims to professionalise its solid waste management, meaning: to introduce an integral and more sustainable approach, to decrease landfilling and to increase recycling. In this effort, which is commonly referred to as the 'Basura Cero' (Zero Waste) approach, the country faces a number of challenges (in random order):

  • Introducing an integral approach to waste management.
  • Fostering cooperation on waste management.
  • Creating environmental awareness.
  • Continuing to involve the waste pickers.
  • Improving landfilling technologies and practises.
  • Implementing more efficient waste transport and logistics.
  • Improving separation and recycling technologies.
  • Introducing waste to energy (W2E) technology.
  • Discouraging landfilling in favour of prevention, reuse and recycling.
  • Introducing the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility.

Project partners: Metasus, Waste

Dustcarts / waste trucks in Colombia