Solid Waste Management


Self-paced e-learning

Other Partner

Offered by

World Bank Group

World Bank Group – Open Learning Campus

Featured image for Solid Waste Management

Course details

6 weeks
2–3 hours per week
Free, a verified certificate for $5 USD

Course summary

Solid waste is one of the most pressing issues of our time. World over, people are generating greater amounts of garbage without much thought. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” holds true for many of us when it comes to waste issues.

About this course

Solid waste management (SWM) is a crucial function of local governments around the world and directly affects public health, the environment, and livelihoods. However, rapid urbanization and population growth place multiple pressures on solid waste management systems, particularly in cities in low- and middle-income countries. In particular, the urban poor are most affected by lack of access to basic SWM services, such as waste collection and disposal.

Yet, the sector also provides numerous opportunities: Improving solid waste management provides a cleaner and healthier environment; improves livability for all city residents; and attracts new investment and tourism, which improves a city’s economic competitiveness, creating jobs, and new business opportunities. SWM also contributes to new sources of energy thus tackling climate change challenges. In these ways, SWM is directly relevant to the World Bank’s goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

Historically, the highest expenditures of local governments are in the SWM sector but – particularly in low- and middle-income country cities – the bulk of expenses goes towards collection and transport instead of treatment and disposal. Another challenge is ensuring the financial sustainability of SWM projects and cost recovery once SWM infrastructure has been created. The world is generating increasing amounts of waste, with large amounts (primarily plastics) ending up in the oceans. However, there is also a paradigm shift from thinking about waste as something to be disposed – “out of sight out of mind” – to a resource that can be used for energy generation, reduce the use and costs associated with virgin resources, and improve our climate change efforts.

Given this background, this e-learning course is designed to look at the SWM sector, with a focus on MSW, from several angles in order to simplify concepts and promote understanding of this sector.

Target audience

World Bank operations and client teams working on a variety of urban-related lending projects, having an interest and need to learn about the complexities of the solid waste sector, its challenges, and opportunities for improvement.

Learning objectives

  • Gain a solid understanding of core concepts of SWM, with a focus on municipal solid waste (MSW), and the importance of the sector on economic development and environmental protection
  • Evaluate various technology options based on the financial, technical, and operational capacities of each technology and treatment/disposal options
  • Distinguish between infrastructure (capex) and operations and maintenance (opex) costs, as related to various technologies, and gain insight into cost recovery methods; learn about various funding mechanisms to establish SMW projects
  • Examine various policy options at national and local levels to determine what would be most suitable given individual country and city scenarios and learn how institutions and coordination can improve service delivery and financial performance of the sector
  • Gain awareness of technological innovations in the sector, the key role of informal workers and women (particularly in low- and middle-income countries), and the changing perceptions of the waste sector towards resource management
  • Familiarize and apply solutions for improvement in the sector, while learning from practical examples and case studies

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