Network Overview

The Sustainable Waste Systems (SWS) Network supports cities reduce their carbon emissions by improving their waste management operations, helping them move towards universal collection and safe treatment.

Waste management is one of the key services every city government must provide, with widely variable service levels, costs and environmental impacts. As the world population becomes more urbanised and affluent, the increase in waste generation is putting enormous pressure on local governments, primarily in the rapidly growing cities of Africa, Latin America and Asia. Poorly managed waste and lack of sanitation facilities have an enormous impact on climate, public health, the environment and the economy.

Waste generation is growing faster than any other environmental pollutant, especially in the developing global South where the contributions from municipal solid waste (MSW) to overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are largest. Managing waste is expensive - on average between 10% and 20% of the total city budget in many developing cities.1 The financial implication of any new waste management model must take into account both the initial capital investment, but also the subsequent operating costs, which can account for more than 70 percent of the project.2 By understanding the benefits and disadvantages of various waste management technologies, local decision makers can best allocate resources, select processes and vendors, and develop policies and procedures to meet the community’s needs while reducing emissions, increasing equity, improving the environment, economy and public health.

The C40 SWS Network partnered with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to enable cities to rapidly and comprehensively access technical resources, financial expertise, capacity-building activities, tools development, and direct technical assistance to accelerate project implementation that will reduce methane and black carbon emissions from the waste sector by improving collection and safe disposal of municipal waste. C40 is delivering a capacity building technical assistance program for Sub Saharan African Cities, and a global Finance Program for Municipal Solid Waste Infrastructure supporting cities to develop financially sustainable waste management projects.

Sustainable Waste Systems Network Resources and Focus Areas

Cities participating in the network have prioritised three focus areas around which they are actively sharing policies, strategies, ideas and challenges with one another to reduce GHG emissions related to the waste management sector. The focus areas are:

Universal collection: enhancing waste infrastructure development, technology evaluation, national and sub-national policy evaluation, deploying cost-effective and efficient waste collection and transportation services  

Safe treatment:  city strategies and policies designed to manage disposal and recovery facilities such as landfills, composting, landfill gas utilization, materials recovery facilities (MRFs) etc., eliminating open dumping, open burning and waste leakage, improving disposal quality, developing organic waste recovery infrastructure, improving recycling and segregation;

Finance: ensuring financial sustainability of new waste infrastructure.