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Developing Tribal Integrated Waste Management Plans

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What is an Integrated Waste Management Plan?

An Integrated Waste Management Plan (IWMP) is a document that outlines how the tribe will reduce, manage, and dispose of its waste. It identifies existing waste systems, assesses needs, and sets forth the ways to design, implement, and monitor a more effective and sustainable waste management program.

Why develop an Integrated Waste Management Plan?

An IWMP serves as a roadmap for developing an effective waste management program. A successful IWMP helps to lower total operating costs, increases efficiency, reduces open dumping, and improves protection of human health and the environment.

Planning is the first step in designing or improving a waste management system. An IWMP takes institutional, social, financial, economic, technical, and environmental factors into consideration when managing waste systems. An IWMP is a practical document that provides the information and guidance needed to make critical waste management decisions. An IWMP can:

  • Define current waste management practices
  • Identify problems and deficiencies with the current system
  • Identify opportunities for improvement in the current system
  • Set priorities for actions to address problems and affect improvement
  • Measure progress toward implementing actions
  • Identify the resources needed and develop budgets and schedules
  • Support proposals for waste management grants

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What are the five critical elements of an Integrated Waste Management Plan?

Before drafting an IWMP, the tribe should consider a few key parameters that will provide a strong framework for its waste management program:

  • Description of the community service area
  • Description of the tribe's waste management program structure and administration
  • Description of the tribe's current and proposed waste management practices
  • Description of the funding, sustainability, and the long-term goals of the tribe's waste management program
  • Documentation of approval of the IWMP by the appropriate governing body

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What are the suggested steps to develop an Integrated Waste Management Plan?

Overall, an IWMP should include goals and objectives and identify any waste codes and ordinances that may need to be developed in the future. Developing goals for an IWMP helps guide waste management planning, keeps priorities focused, and sets targets to measure performance progress. When setting goals, the tribe should focus on problems that have feasible solutions, and actively solicit input from tribal members. If the tribe determines that the solution to a problem is the development of waste codes and ordinances, it should include that in the plan.

Waste management planning is specific to each tribe and every tribe comes into the planning process at a different place. The following steps outline the general process required to develop an IWMP:

  1. Develop a profile of the planning area
  • Include information on population, number of households, types of business, and estimated growth rate of the tribe.
  • Identify transportation routes, distance to landfills and other disposal sites, and infrastructure needs.
  • This information will help when developing cost estimates for waste management activities.
  1. Define the waste generators within the planning area
  • Examine all residential, commercial, and waste-related generators in the planning area. This includes homes, tribal governmental buildings, schools, restaurants, casinos, health facilities, etc.
  • Determine whether the tribe will need to handle waste from the cleanup of illegal dumpsites.
  1. Identify existing waste management practices within the planning area
  • Determine where waste is going and how it is being disposed.
  • Identify any significant amounts of waste entering and leaving the planning area.
  1. Conduct a waste assessment/waste audit
  • The backbone of the planning process is to characterize waste that requires management in the community.
  • When the tribe determines the quantity and composition of waste, it will  be able to evaluate options and estimate costs.
  1. Estimate future waste generation quantities
  • Tribes can make this estimate using the projected growth information gathered in step one of the IWMP process.
  1. Develop waste handling options
  • Once a picture of the situation is determined, begin looking at the waste management options available.
  • Ask what percentage of discarded waste can be prevented, reused, reduced, or recycled.
  • Ask if the tribe collects the residents' waste, or  whether members have to transport waste to a transfer station or disposal facility.
  1. Identify existing regional programs or infrastructures that the planning area might use
  • Determine if there are potential benefits of developing or participating in regional programs.
  • Planners and managers usually find that it is beneficial to participate in regional waste advisory committees or workgroups to gain an understanding of how others are dealing with their challenges.
  1. Develop costs for waste handling options
  • Cost estimates include both capital costs and operation and maintenance costs for each option.
  1. Compare options based on criteria defined by the tribe
  • Use pre-planned goals to assist with developing the criteria for comparing options and to prioritize criteria.
  1. Obtain approval from your tribal council or other appropriate governing body.

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Example of Tribal Integrated Waste Management Plan

St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Solid Waste Management Plan (22 pp, 385 K, About PDF) Exit

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Assistance with developing a Tribal Integrated Waste Management Plan

The Tribal Waste Management Team is available to review plans and can provide templates and examples. For assistance, contact your regional tribal waste coordinator.

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