Plastic waste: the contribution of municipal waste management to tackle the issue

Connective Cities Dialogue Event in Hamburg, Germany



Almost 40 local practitioners from 13 cities, 9 countries and 4 continents intensively exchanged their experiences on the topic of "plastic waste" and jointly developed solutions and project ideas. They followed the invitation of Connective Cities and the City of Hamburg to a dialogue event on "Plastic Waste - The Contribution of Municipal Waste Management Systems to Tackle the Issue", which took place from 3 to 5 December 2019 in Hamburg.

Increasing amounts of plastic waste pose challenges for local authorities around the world. Only small quantities can be recycled by type to create closed cycles. But even recycling into lower types of plastic can alleviate landfills and generate income for vulnerable groups. However, avoiding plastic waste is the best option. Therefore, plastic waste is first and foremost a social challenge: changing the behaviour of consumers and producers is crucial.

Based on an exchange of experiences on good practices and projects in the cities implementation challenges were identified and finally eight project ideas were developed for eight cities, which could lead to an improvement of the respective strategies and implementation plans.

The event concluded with three parallel excursions to a waste incineration plant, a sorting station and a waste collection point in Hamburg.




From two opening lectures on plastic waste, participants presented ongoing or planned projects in 13 of their cities, focusing on the following topics:

1. Sustainable separated household waste collection systems

2. Sustainable use of plastics

3. Avoiding plastic packaging

A number of key challenges have been identified, including the creation of recycling cycles of a single variety, systems for separating waste at the household level, the initiation of behavioural changes among producers and consumers, and the involvement or formal organisation of informal waste collectors.

The final step was to transform some of the identified challenges and solutions into project ideas and support them with concrete action plans.

In addition, volunteers from Precious Plastic Hamburg demonstrated how plastic can be recycled with simple tools, some creativity and knowledge.

Event Program



The Contribution of Municipal Waste Management
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rüdiger Siechau, Stadtreinigung Hamburg

Plastic Waste: The Contribution of Municipal Waste Management Systems: An International Perspective
Anja Schwetje, German Environment Agency - Umweltbundesamt



The expertise of the participants was as diverse as the cities they represented: Hamburg, Rostock, Bonn and Augsburg in Germany, Vushtrri and Mitrovica in Kosovo, Himara (Albania), Irbid (Jordan), Kandy (Sri Lanka), Hawassa (Ethiopia), Mogadishu (Somalia), La Unión (Costa Rica) and Quito (Ecuador).

Despite major differences at the technical level, the exchange of experiences and ideas between countries and between continents also worked on this topic. For example, Kandy benefited from the experience of German cities in automating their sorting facilities. Quito, Irbid, Mitrovica and Hawassa shared their approaches to integrating informal waste collectors. Similarly, Mogadishu, Quito, Irbid and Hawassa exchanged ideas on household collection systems and the establishment of recycling centres; and the initiation of behavioural change among producers and consumers to avoid waste generation was an important topic for La Unión, Rostock and Augsburg.

At the end of the conference, eight concrete project ideas were developed which have great potential for implementation. The spectrum ranged from the establishment of an umbrella organisation for waste collectors in Mitrovica, the establishment of a recycling centre in Himara, the economically sustainable organisation of the collection of recyclable waste in Vushtrri, the automation of the recycling plant in Kandy, the development of a communication strategy for the recycling project in Quito, the establishment of waste separation at household level in Hawassa, the certification of sustainable shops in La Unión, to action planning for greater quality and competition in waste collection in Mogadishu.

The event concluded with three parallel excursions to a waste incineration plant, a sorting station and a waste collection point in Hamburg.



Avoiding, Collecting and Recycling Plastic Waste – The Contribution of Municipal Waste Management Systems

The documentation describes in detail the format of the dialogue event, the good practices and results of the working groups as well as the planned further steps to implement the developed project ideas.

Further information:

Prevention of plastic waste in production and consumption by multi-actor partnerships
A study of the PREVENT Waste Alliance and the Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie gGmbH, published in May 2020



Categories: Connective Cities Municipal services Solid waste management and recycling Power supply
Regions: Africa Ethiopia Hawassa Somalia Mogadishu Asia Sri Lanka Kandy Germany Augsburg Bonn Hamburg Rostock Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe Albania Himara Kosovo Motrivica Latin America Costa Rica La Unión Ecuador Quito Middle East Jordan Irbid


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