Sustainable recycling of municipal solid waste in developing countries

Alexis M. Troschinetz, James R. Mihelcic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

431 Scopus citations


This research focuses on recycling in developing countries as one form of sustainable municipal solid waste management (MSWM). Twenty-three case studies provided municipal solid waste (MSW) generation and recovery rates and composition for compilation and assessment. The average MSW generation rate was 0.77 kg/person/day, with recovery rates from 5-40%. The waste streams of 19 of these case studies consisted of 0-70% recyclables and 17-80% organics. Qualitative analysis of all 23 case studies identified barriers or incentives to recycling, which resulted in the development of factors influencing recycling of MSW in developing countries. The factors are government policy, government finances, waste characterization, waste collection and segregation, household education, household economics, MSWM (municipal solid waste management) administration, MSWM personnel education, MSWM plan, local recycled-material market, technological and human resources, and land availability. Necessary and beneficial relationships drawn among these factors revealed the collaborative nature of sustainable MSWM. The functionality of the factor relationships greatly influenced the success of sustainable MSWM. A correlation existed between stakeholder involvement and the three dimensions of sustainability: environment, society, and economy. The only factors driven by all three dimensions (waste collection and segregation, MSWM plan, and local recycled-material market) were those requiring the greatest collaboration with other factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-923
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge support for Ms. Troschinetz through the following sources: Air & Waste Management Association Graduate Scholarship; Dr. Pati Damoder and Soumitri Reddy Graduate Fellowship; and a Michigan Tech Century 2 Fellowship.


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