ISSN: 1659-2751

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Development of an Integrated Waste Management Plan for Ordinary Solid Waste in Rural Communities in Latin America

Abstract

Poor management of solid domestic waste can lead to a wide range of problems for the environment, society, and most importantly, human health. In rural communities, the management of solid domestic waste often is left up to the individual who generates the waste. For that reason, without the technologies that are available in more developed areas, the solid wastes are not adequately managed. The objective of this Alcoa-EARTH Project was to establish an integrated waste management plan in various rural communities in Latin America. Five rural communities, San Jerónimo and San Esteban in Honduras, San Bartolo in Mexico, Bluefields in Nicaragua, and Nosara in Costa Rica, were chosen to participate in the project. Professors at the host institution, EARTH University, conducted further studies on waste management practices in a second study area, rural communities within the zone of influence of the university’s Guácimo campus. The participants first collected information on the socio-economic aspects of their community. Then, they carried out a Solid Waste Analysis Protocol (SWAP) investigation and looked at the collection, transport and final disposal sites for the solid wastes produced in each community. With the information gathered, the participants developed a management plan for the solid wastes generated in their community. The plan included five components: support of the municipality and participation of locals interested in the project; education and awareness programs; creation of a business to implement recycling programs and compost production; establishment of regular schedule for solid domestic wastes collection and an adequate site for the final disposition of the non-recyclable wastes; and compliance with the existing legislations. In some cases, the participants proposed that a private independent company handle the plan whereas in other communities the participants felt that a non-profit organization supported by donations from private industry would be more successful. In either case, the entity in charge of carrying out the plan would need outside funding, either in the form of loans or donations, in order to initiate and develop the plan.

Key words: Rural communities, solid domestic waste, management plan, Solid Waste Analysis Protocol (SWAP), recycling.

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