DevelopmentAid Dialogues | Turning Trash to Treasure: Organic Waste Management

By Hisham Allam

DevelopmentAid Dialogues | Turning Trash to Treasure: Organic Waste Management

Latin American nations face a significant challenge: the excessive generation of solid waste. Unlike developed regions where waste is increasingly seen as a valuable resource, it is often dismissed as mere “rubbish” in Latin America. However, amidst this challenge lies a powerful opportunity for transformation.

In this episode of DevelopmentAid Dialogues, Dr. Sandra Mendez-Fajardo, a leading expert in solid waste management from Skat Foundation, offers valuable insights alongside Hisham Allam. Together, they explore the current state of waste management in Latin America and the innovative solutions emerging across the region.

Download the transcript of this episode.

Dr. Fajardo paints a vivid picture of the waste management landscape, highlighting the predominance of landfilling without separation. She emphasizes that over 50% of waste comprises organics, presenting significant environmental concerns.

“The decomposition in landfills is generating greenhouse gas emissions and polluting water,” she warns, underscoring the urgency for change.

Despite the challenges, Dr. Fajardo highlights ongoing success stories. From large-scale composting facilities to community-driven programs, a shift towards sustainable waste management is underway in Latin America. Colombia’s Green Terrace project exemplifies this movement, aiming to create a closed loop between organic waste and healthy food production through composting and urban agriculture.

The path towards sustainable waste management isn’t without its bumps. Dr. Fajardo pinpoints limited technical knowledge and time constraints as key obstacles for residents. However, she remains optimistic, underlining the power of education and awareness campaigns to drive cultural change.

“Environmental education activities and information campaigns are very important,” Dr. Fajardo emphasizes, highlighting the need for comprehensive solutions.

These challenges are not insurmountable. Collaboration stands out as a powerful driving force. Local partnerships are essential, Dr. Fajardo reiterates, for motivating and involving communities in waste management initiatives. She cites the success of projects like Green Terrace as a testament to the long-term sustainability fostered by partnerships:

“Local partnerships are crucial,” she affirms.

Dr. Fajardo’s insights paint a hopeful picture: waste management in Latin America is evolving from disposal to opportunity. Innovation, education, and collaboration are paving the way for a sustainable future. Projects like Green Terrace illuminate this shift, showcasing how waste can be transformed into a resource.

Listen to our latest podcast and uncover Latin America’s waste management revolution. Explore challenges, innovative solutions like Colombia’s Green Terrace project, and the shift towards sustainability. Despite obstacles, find hope in education and collaboration driving change. Join us as we reveal waste transformed into opportunity in Latin America.