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EPA Releases Guide to Assist Developing Countries with Solid Waste Management

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WASHINGTON (October 22, 2020) — On the heels of the launch of the Trump Administration’s Federal Strategy for Addressing Global Marine Litter Strategy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first action item, Best Practices for Solid Waste Management: A Guide for Decision-Makers in Developing Countries. This document was created to share best practices with local decision makers in developing nations to improve their solid waste collection infrastructure. The guide covers a diverse set of important topics for city-level decision makers, including stakeholder engagement; waste management planning and economics; waste collection and transportation, prevention, minimization, and recycling; landfill design and operation; and energy recovery.

“The best way to keep our oceans free of waste and litter is to prevent it from entering waterways in the first place,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The U.S. is a leader in waste management and this guide will help many of our partners improve their waste management practices.”

“When not managed properly, waste generated on land can reach waterbodies and contribute to the global marine litter issue,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management Peter Wright. “Research shows that as much as 80 percent of marine litter comes from land-based sources. This guide discusses the marine litter issue and provides best practices on how to prevent waste from entering the environment.”

The guide is designed to be easily navigable and includes case studies and examples of activities from around the globe; questions for decision-makers to consider when evaluating options for improving solid waste management; and key resources that identify useful guidance materials, tools, and studies.

To read the guide, visit

On Monday, EPA Administrator Wheeler released the Federal strategy with U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary Mark M. Menezes, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman Mary Neumayr, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA) and Deputy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Tim Gallaudet, and EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker.

Five countries in Asia account for over half of the plastic waste input into the ocean: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The majority of marine litter comes from land-based sources such as littering and the mismanagement of waste and the most effective way to combat marine litter is to prevent and reduce land-based sources of waste from entering our oceans in the first place. To tackle these issues, the U.S. provides a critical global leadership role in improving waste management and recycling.

U.S. actions to address sources of marine litter focus on building capacityincentivizing the global recycling marketpromoting research and development, and promoting marine litter removal.


Inadequate solid waste management systems present serious risks to human health, the environment, and the economy in cities in developing countries across the globe and is one of the main causes of marine litter. Many of these cities experience challenges in improving their waste management practices. This guide, developed by the EPA with input from a wide array of experts, provides city-level decision makers in developing countries with information and resources on best practices to help them improve solid waste management.