Research suggests that as much as 40 per cent of the world’s waste could be subject to open burning, where unwanted materials found in waste such as paper, trees, brush, leaves, grass and other debris are burnt openly, releasing smoke and toxins directly into the air. These emissions of toxins in the air can be breathed in or ingested following settlement on crops or consumption by domestic livestock. Dumped waste is also a major cause of diarrhoeal diseases.
These toxins have been estimated to cause 270,000 premature deaths globally each year.
Cost-benefit assessment of community-based recycling and waste management, Tearfund, 2018
However, a holistic approach to waste management could stop the use of this harmful practice, preventing further damage to the health of populations and to our climate.
Integrated Resource Recovery Centres (IRRCs)
These are one example of a community-based recycling scheme. The model originated in Bangladesh in 2007, and was pioneered by the NGO Waste Concern. It has since been replicated in other East Asian countries. IRRCs provide an inclusive, market-based approach to waste management, offering safer and more lucrative employment for waste pickers, as well as significant health and environmental benefits for the community. The approach is ideal for informal settlements in fast-growing cities, as well as in secondary cities and towns. The IRRC intervenes along three axes: with households in the community to introduce regular (almost daily) waste collection and encourage waste separation at source; with waste pickers to manage door-to-door collection and operate a community-based processing plant, and with consumers and downstream businesses to sell organic compost and recyclables.
RESOURCES ON waste management
The restorative economy (PDF 5.9 MB)
This paper is intended to help catalyse a much needed debate about how we shape the future of our society and of our world. As well as actions by our governments, this paper calls on Christians to think differently, live more simply and speak up.
This resource is also available in French (PDF 481 KB), Spanish (PDF 482 KB) and Portuguese (PDF 482 KB).
Bending the curve (PDF 458 KB)
This report explores which circular economy interventions work in practice to create income, health and environmental benefits in developing countries. Based on in-depth reviews of existing literature it identifies a range of development interventions that are proven and replicable in a variety of low- and middle-income contexts.
Closing the loop (PDF 721 KB)
This report, undertaken in Brazil, presents the evidence as to the benefits of the circular economy for developing countries and emerging economies. If implemented correctly, the circular economy could make it possible to maintain the natural world at the same time as benefiting the poorest groups in society.
There is a summary version of this report Summary (PDF 655 KB)
This report is also available in Portuguese: Full report (PDF 726 KB), Summary (PDF 385 KB)
Cost-benefit assessment of community-based recycling and waste management in Pakistan (PDF 866 KB)
This joint paper with the Institute of Development Studies assesses a replicable community-based approach to waste management in Pakistan.The approach returns 10 USD in benefits for every 1 USD invested, and results in new jobs, fewer premature deaths, less diarrhoeal disease and fewer carbon emissions. The centre became self-financing in its third year, reducing the need for more expensive, centralised waste-management facilities by up to 90 per cent.
Building a sustainable future (PDF 1.3 MB)
A practical guide for incorporating Environmental and Economic Sustainability into projects, programmes and strategies.
Also available in French (PDF 842 KB).
CEDRA (PDF 2.5 MB)
CEDRA is a strategic-level, environmental risk assessment for agencies working in developing countries. It helps local humanitarian and development agencies make their existing projects stronger against climate and environmental change. It is designed to be used across the whole of an organisation’s work.
Also available in French (PDF 2.4 MB), Spanish (PDF 2.1 MB), Portuguese (PDF 2.2 MB), Burmese/Myanmar language (PDF 1.1 MB) and Nepali (PDF 4.1 MB).
Environmental assessment (PDF 1 MB)
This is a project-level tool used to assess the impact of projects on the environment and of the local environment on the project. Users decide whether to modify the project design so it has a reduced negative impact and/or an improved positive impact. Environmental Assessment (EA) also helps compare a number of potential projects in order to select the least harmful or most beneficial one.
Also available in French (PDF 660 KB), Spanish (PDF 637 KB) and Portuguese (PDF 663 KB)
Roots 13 – environmental sustainability (PDF 800 KB)
This book aims to raise awareness of environmental issues and equip development organisations to respond effectively.
Also available in French (PDF 825 KB), Spanish (PDF 565 KB), Portuguese (PDF 1.3 KB) and Burmese/Myanmar language (PDF 1.1 MB)
Footsteps on Waste
An edition of Tearfund Learn’s magazine packed with practical advice and inspiring stories from around the world about dealing with waste in our communities.