Waste management is a matter of concern to all countries. It is important both in an urban and in a rural context, being especially acute in the former. Yet, despite the importance of solid waste management in the urban environment, the ways in which many municipalities across the world handle the issue show that there is much room for improvement.

The ever-growing amounts of solid waste being produced across the world, especially in developing countries, are mostly due to problems such as lack of policies and financing, as well as the non-availability of irregular services. They compel many local authorities to simply dispose waste, instead of managing it. But even though much is known about individual approaches and methods to manage municipal waste, there is a lack of research which specifically looks at integrated urban waste management.

This article addresses this need by reviewing the state of the art on municipal solid waste management in a sample of developing countries and rapidly growing regions. The authors highlight the fact that the wide range of approaches and available technologies in the field of urban waste management are not being fully used. Also, there is a general lack of governance in this field, which makes it difficult to use waste management systems for improved urban ecological infrastructure.

The analysis pays special attention to experiences from Latin America (with a special focus on Brazil), Asian countries as well as the European Union new Member States (the Baltic States). The authors document and presents some of these countries’ experiences, which may be useful to other developing countries and rapidly growing regions.

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