ICMA International / Services / Expertise & Capabilities / Solid Waste & Environmental Management

Solid Waste and Environmental Management

Local governments around the world are recognizing the need to address systemic, and often severe, urban solid waste and environmental problems—problems that must be solved if cities are to prosper economically and socially in the twenty-first century.

ICMA has the capacity to help cities meet this challenge. Our network includes thousands of local government practitioners and experienced consultants with broad U.S. and international experience in solid waste and environmental management. Drawing on their expertise, we have provided technical assistance, research, and training in solid waste collection, treatment, landfill siting, privatization, contract management and oversight, cost recovery, and drafting of legislation.

We have helped dozens of cities around the world organize for solid waste collection and disposal, introducing such practices as source separation, recycling, and composting to alleviate the health and sanitation problems posed by household, business, and industrial waste, including medical and other hazardous waste. We have also helped cities take steps to alleviate pollution by capturing landfill gas. Here are examples:

  • ICMA is assisting the Government of Georgia in designing adequate waste management and recycling systems in two regions. The Waste Management Technologies in Regions project is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, support the growth of the recycling industry, close old landfills and dumpsites, establish sound waste management practices at the local level, and educate the public about their role in waste disposal and recycling.
  • Through several programs in Afghanistan, ICMA has provided technical assistance and training in solid waste management and helped municipalities clear roadside ditches of trash, implement systematic trash collection programs, purchase needed equipment, plan for solid waste facilities, and organize “clean-up days” that engage local youth.
  • In Jijiga, Ethiopia, ICMA helped establish a public-private partnership between the city administration and two waste collection cooperatives, provided training and equipment, developed a cost-recovery scheme, and introduced geographic information system (GIS) software to plan and track solid waste collection.
  • In Sri Lanka, ICMA carried out an assignment to assess current solid waste practices in the town of Trincomalee and made recommendations for improvement. The work was carried out by the Urban Management Centre, ICMA's representative in South Asia, based in Ahmedabad, India.
  • ICMA implemented Landfill Gas: Creating Green Energy in China, a methane-to-markets program supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to help Chinese cities recover methane gas from landfills for use as a clean energy source.
  • In Jordan, ICMA used its CityLinks model to partner a Jordanian university with one in the United States to develop medical waste management practices that could be sustained locally and replicated throughout the country. ICMA received additional funding to help Jordan’s government limit the environmental and public health risks posed by waste from households and businesses as well as hospitals.
  • Through the ICMA CityLinks program, Catawba County, North Carolina, worked with partners in Tirana, Albania, to improve the operations and maintenance of the local landfill, contract with private companies for waste collection, improve waste containers to reduce spillover, and develop a recycling program. The physical changes were complemented by a public awareness campaign designed to gain support from citizens and contractors, with a kick-off clean-up day.
  • In the capital city of Bamako, Mali, ICMA collaborated with the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County (Georgia), USAID, and other partners to address growing sanitation concerns caused by the city’s inability to effectively manage and control the collection and proper disposal of solid waste. Following an assessment of the local situation, ICMA suggested an approach that both built local capacity and made visible changes that were apparent to residents. Components of the approach were a beautification and educational media campaign; a review of collection routes, collection equipment, and the number of paying and non-paying households in the city; and physical and operational improvements in the local landfill.
  • With funding from the U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership’s Clean Air Program, ICMA facilitated a nine-month partnership between the League of Cities Philippines and the Florida League of Cities, with the goal of increasing the Philippine league’s capacity to establish an environmental unit to help enforce national policies related to cleaner air, water quality, solid waste, and other environmental issues.
  • In Botswana, ICMA facilitated the successful privatization of solid waste collection and disposal services for the city of Gaborone. The program involved drafting tender documents, selecting vendors, and working with the city and the private sector to ensure smooth monitoring and implementation.
  • Additional examples include landfill siting in Morocco; development of integrated solid waste management plans in Jamaica and Paraguay; creation of a solid waste enterprise fund in Honduras; improvements in solid waste collection, disposal, and recycling systems in Mexico; and the drafting of national solid waste legislation in Swaziland.

This experience in the international arena is bolstered by ICMA’s network of U.S.-based members, staff, and environmental experts. Solid waste and environmental management are among the services that all municipalities need to provide, so ICMA has a large pool of experts on which to draw. The result is a substantial organizational resource that can be applied worldwide.  ICMA’s domestic assets include the following:

  • An extensive Knowledge Network, accessible from the ICMA website, provides resources gathered from ICMA’s worldwide network of local government practitioners and provides for discussion groups on a wide array of topics, including solid waste and environmental management.
  • ICMA manages the Local Government Environmental Assistance Network (LGEAN), a Web site that serves as a "first-stop shop" providing environmental management, planning, funding, and regulatory information for elected and appointed officials, managers, and staff.
  • The overall issue of sustainability—meaning a balance among the values of environmental stewardship, economic development, and social equity—has been designated as an ICMA organizational priority, and the association’s membership has formed an advisory committee and an electronic discussion forum on the topic.
  • With significant funding from USEPA, ICMA has developed and overseen numerous environmental management programs in the United States.