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  • Writer's pictureCCAP

New Report | Sustainable Solutions: Incentives for Promoting Organic Waste Source Separation

This report aims to disseminate adaptable and innovative waste management strategies that incentivize and encourage organic waste source separation.


The organic fraction of waste in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) represents 52% of the total waste produced—by far the largest component in the waste stream. Nevertheless, the active management of the organic fraction is not a common practice in the region, where only 0.39% is recovered through composting. When the organic fraction of waste is sent to landfills instead of being managed sustainably, it generates methane emissions when it degrades under anaerobic conditions. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 20-year scale. The waste sector is responsible for nearly 20% of global anthropogenic methane emissions, heavily contributing to the climate crisis that impacts the most vulnerable countries and island states.


To raise awareness about the importance of separation at the source, the Recycle Organics Program—with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada—has published a new report that showcases adaptable and innovative organic waste management incentives to promote and encourage sustainable solutions for managing organic waste.


The report analyzes successful case studies from LAC countries and communities that can be replicated across the region, creating incentives for organic waste source separation. By highlighting successful strategies, outreach campaigns and incentives, the goal is to inspire the adoption of effective practices that contribute to a greener, more sustainable future for managing organic waste in the region and beyond.

New Report on Incentives for Organic Waste Source Separation


Key Takeaways from the Report:


  • Successful organic waste management programs already exist in small municipalities, and these innovative initiatives can be scaled and replicated to support climate goals within other countries around the globe. The case studies presented in this report have proven to create positive impacts on changing the behavior towards sustainably managing organic waste.

  • Economic incentives are effective tools for anyone involved in waste management to use, including those managing daily household waste, and they particularly promote the participation of commercial waste generators, having a quick and direct impact on shifting this constituent’s behavior. However, implementing economic incentives in the absence of existing fees/tariffs for solid waste management services is a common challenge because cost reductions for generators that improve organic waste management practices cannot be applied when there are no fees to reduce in the first place.

  • Other tools, programs and initiatives can be implemented to increase the participation of separating organic waste at the source while fee systems are put in place, such as innovative strategies to provide monetary value to organic waste. For example, the “Pila Verde” social currency that citizens receive in exchange for their food scraps in the municipality of Santiago (Brazil), is a clever initiative with economic incentives targeting several municipal actors such as waste generators and farmers. This program creates a local currency around organic waste, as the social currency received for food scraps is then traded for fresh fruits, vegetables and other goods at the market. The farmers receiving the social currency exchange it for nutrient-rich compost made from the community’s food scraps, following a true circular economy.

Pila Verde Program
Photo Credit: The Municipal Environmental Secretariat of the City of Santiago, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Pilot programs can gather initial insights pertaining to perceptions and misconceptions of the population and can support the design of targeted and effective messaging, incentives and even waste bins.

  • Door-to-door efforts, soft incentives and awards for participants are pivotal in disseminating programs during the initial stages. Promoting a sense of community is also key to creating ownership amongst waste generators. For example, the Environmentally Friendly Schools Initiative (EFSI) in Grenada promotes organic waste management, not only in schools but in surrounding communities as well. The EFSI has maintained regular annual participation across school districts that want to sustain their “Golden Award Status” and promote themselves as local leaders in climate action within their communities as well as innovators at the national level.

Environmentally Friendly Schools Initiative in Grenada
Photo Credit: Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority (GSWMA)

  • Recognition can also serve as a powerful incentive among citizens practicing sustainable organic waste management. Congratulatory tags placed on composting bins and rewards recognizing best practices in source separation show better results when used sporadically to add new participants or to enhance ongoing participation. Some municipalities are exploring adding digital tags by using apps dedicated to reward waste generators for source separation or home composting efforts.

  • Early stages of organic waste management programs might require more in-person efforts, while long-standing programs benefit from innovations in rewarding participants or penalizing them when inadequately separating their waste.

  • The use of online tools and AI can support awareness teams, but they cannot replace them. Examples include: chatbots to answer questions and support to develop contests (automatically registering participants, sending questions, awarding and tracking points and ranking winners). 

About the Recycle Organics Program:

Implemented by CCAP and ImplementaSur, the underlying goal of the Recycle Organics program is to help the countries it supports achieve the Global Methane Pledge of reducing their methane emissions by 30% by 2030, while bringing significant environmental, economic and social benefits to local communities. The Program focuses on policies and projects, helping to create enabling conditions for a sustainable expansion of organic waste treatment technologies and develop a community of practice within the regions it supports.


Recycle Organics has a particular focus on working with developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which have historically contributed the least to climate change but are typically hit the hardest by its cascading effects. Many of these countries are especially vulnerable to extreme heat, intensified storms and flooding because of the warming planet, making the goals of the Paris Agreement to keep warming below 1.5 °C evermore critical.

 

In total, the Recycle Organics Program supports 20+ countries and is funded by ECCC, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the Global Methane Hub through different initiatives and projects. ECCC is currently supporting four Caribbean and two Pacific Island countries via the Recycle Organics program.


 

About the CCAP Methane Mitigation Program


The overarching goal of the CCAP Methane Mitigation Program is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the waste sector by advancing policies, programs and projects that contribute to sustainable waste management. In addition to its work with Recycle Organics, CCAP previously led the CCAC Latin American Regional Waste City Network—a network of 24 of the largest cities in the region to build the capacity of waste stakeholders at the municipal level—to provide a forum for participants to share best practices and learn from others in the region and help cities prioritize MSW actions and measures.


CCAP is also developing a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) to reduce methane emissions from the waste sector in Peru, under the Mitigation Action Facility. The goal of Peru’s Waste NAMA is to reimagine the country’s waste sector from a system that relies on final disposal to one that introduces circular economy concepts and strives to reduce and capture methane emissions from organic waste and convert them to useable products such as compost, biogas and electricity.

 

Stay Connected


There are numerous ways to stay connected with CCAP. Follow us on Twitter @CCAPolicy and on Facebook & LinkedIn.

 

CCAP’s mission is to support every step of climate action, from ambition to implementation. A recognized world leader in climate policy and action, CCAP creates innovative, replicable climate solutions, strengthens capacities, and promotes best practices across the local, national, and international levels to accelerate the transition to a net-zero, climate resilient future. CCAP was founded in 1985 and is based in Washington, DC.

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