Info Sheets

Taking Community Action
for Waste Management

Communities, and community organizations, are in a perfect position to make a major impact on the amount of waste that is generated in their societies. The collective voices of your group can persuade government officials to notice the problem, and can influence industry to be more mindful of its responsibilities. Following are a few more ideas to consider when drawing up your own action plan:

  • Coordinate activities with other organizations. Work with international organizations and existing international networks to develop a permanent inventory of accidents, transportation routes and potential problems related to hazardous and nuclear waste including location, dates, perpetrators, solutions and outcomes.

  • Pursue partnership with government. Work with local government to encourage evaluations and environmental impact studies prior to the implementation of any activity that generates waste of any kind. You also could encourage local, regional and national governments to establish legal, financial and monitoring mechanisms that guarantee the strict prohibition of imports or exports of wastes. Also, work with your local government to promote the separation of waste in the home in order to maximize the possibilities of recycling. Encourage your local and national governments to create comprehensive and effective waste management policies and regulations for your community and the country at large, in accordance with the highest international environmental and health standards.

  • Monitor waste activities in your community. Community organizations could monitor their country's policy of selling waste relocation permits to industries from other countries. If this is occurring in your country, help your government to find more sustainable alternatives for earning foreign exchange.

  • Get involved in education. Your community group could organize education campaigns through media or schools or even going door-to-door to inform the citizenry to change its values and lifestyles so that urban wastes can be reduced. You could promote local, regional and international educational campaigns aimed at reducing, reusing and recycling resources to the greatest extent possible.

  • Communicate with your government. If there is a waste problem in your community, express your environmental concerns to local politicians through letters and lobbying. Support legislative initiatives that encourage industry to modify manufacturing processes to eliminate the production of hazardous and toxic wastes, and to reduce, reuse, and recycle what is produced.

  • Be a watchdog. Alert your local environmental protection agency to incidents of environmental abuse. You may see a truck dumping garbage illegally into a ditch beside the road. Record its license plate number and report it to the local authorities. Find out if there are harmful substances at production sites in your locality. If there are, join with local community members to ask the companies to reduce their use of toxic chemicals and waste production.

  • Notify the media of stories of environmental importance. Develop a rapport with journalists in your area, and let them know of any and all issues you know of concerning abuse of waste.

Source: UNEP
Return to
Urban Waste

Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org