Municipal Solid Waste Industry

An Expert's View about Environmental Technologies in Peru

Last updated: 24 Mar 2011


The solid waste industry in Peru is fragmented and weakly regulated. Yet it is also an industry that is gradually emerging and developing. In comparison to other solid waste sub-sectors, the management of municipal solid waste is an area with better policy structure and information.

According to the Solid Waste General Law, each local municipality has the obligation to adopt and implement a solid waste management plan, also known as PIGARS or Plan Integral de Gestión Ambiental de Residuos Sólidos. The province of Lima is the largest solid waste producer in Peru, generating an estimated 0.9 kg per habitant per day.

At the national level there is a lack of proper infrastructure for the final disposal of solid waste. There are only 9 authorized sanitary landfills in Peru, 5 of which are located in Lima. With the cooperation of public and private institutions and local governments, investment projects are helping the development of underserved areas such as the recycling, treatment, and final disposal of solid waste. It is expected that these plans and projects will increase demand for better technologies and infrastructure in the solid waste sector.

Market Demand

Peru’s solid waste management infrastructure operates poorly, especially hospital and hazardous/toxic waste management. However, it is a sector that is gradually emerging and developing. The provision of proper and sustainable solid waste services is dependent on funding availability and how well regional and/or local governments are organized. Based on its management, solid waste in Peru is divided into municipal solid waste (domestic and commercial waste) and non-municipal solid waste (industrial, agriculture, mining, and hazardous waste). This report focuses on municipal solid waste. This is because in comparison to other waste-related sectors, the management of municipal solid waste has better policy-making structures and information, as well as more investment projects. Nevertheless, structural and institutional limitations remain.

The Ministry of Environment (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente-MINAM) was created in 2008, replacing the National Environmental Council (previously known as Consejo Nacional del Ambiente-CONAM). MINAM is the main institution responsible for the planning, coordination, and promotion of environmental policies and programs, as well as overseeing the conservation and sustainable use of Peru’s natural resources. MINAM has a network of institutions that offers information and support about solid waste management called Red de Instituciones Especializadas en Capacitación para la Gestión Integral de los Residuos Sólidos-Red RRSS.

MINAM, in coordination with the national and local governments, private institutions, non-profits, and other ministries—such as the Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educacion), Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud-MINSA), and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas-MEF)—, seeks to strengthen the environmental education and participation of the population in order to reduce the amount of waste that is produced and improperly disposed of on a daily basis. This is a major environmental and public health concern.

Peru has a Solid Waste General Law, which was enacted in 2000, regulated under the Decree Law No. 057-2004-PCM and modified in 2008. This law provides the main guidelines to manage municipal and non-municipal solid waste. It also determines the players and institutions responsible for the collection, transportation, treatment, and final disposal of solid waste, as well as the rights and obligations of those who generate it. Other relevant regulations are the 2005 General Law of the Environment and the 2009 Law that Regulates the Activity of Recyclers.

These laws establish that each provincial and district municipality is responsible for the collection and final disposal of municipal solid waste in its jurisdiction. The management of non-municipal waste is the responsibility of the producer. At the provincial municipal level, each local authority has the obligation to adopt and implement a solid waste management plan (Plan Integral de Gestión Ambiental de Residuos Sólidos-PIGARS). In 2008, MINAM reported that only 51 (26%) of the 195 provincial municipalities had an approved PIGARS, 9 (5%) were still in the process of completing a plan, and 135 (69%) did not present any plan. By September of 2010 a total of 62 provincial municipalities had approved PIGARS in the entire country.

Peru’s total population is about 29.1 million habitants, of which 74% is located in urban areas and 26% in rural areas. The National System of Environmental Information (Sistema Nacional de Información Ambiental-SINIA), which is part of MINAM’s network of environmental information, estimated that 17.2 thousand metric tons of solid waste was produced per day in 2009, generating more than 6.2 million metric tons per year, with a per capita amount of 0.7-0.9 kg/person/day.

Peru’s Second National Communication Forum for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2010) indicated that about 30% of the collected solid waste in Peru is disposed of in sanitary landfills, located in the province of Lima. In addition, approximately 70% of the waste is dumped in unauthorized dumps or is incinerated therefore increasing pollution and health risks. These percentages do not showcase much improvement from the first national communication of 2001, which reported that 69% of the solid waste produced per month in Lima was disposed of in open air uncontrolled landfills. In 2009, the non-profit Ciudadanos al Día determined that only 2% of the waste that is collected in Peru is recycled.

According to Peru’s National Environmental Fund (Fondo Nacional del Ambiente-FONAM), 54.3% of the collected municipal solid waste is composed of putrescible organic waste material. About 25.2% is composed of non-recyclable materials, while 20.3% is recyclable.

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Posted: 23 March 2011, last updated 24 March 2011