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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 16:48

Solid Waste Management in Colombia

Written by  Magda Carolina Correal Sarmiento


There are more than 100 associations that group around 5.000 recyclers (Aluna Consultores, 2011) and most of the recyclers do not belong to any association ( informal recyclers).

Between 40% and 60% of the recycled solid waste are collected by recyclers (informal and formal) who carry out this activity for making a living. The difference is directly managed by the industry. Solid waste management utility companies do not used to perform recycling activities, they exceptionally provide selected collection to give the materials for recycling associations and in few cases they operate recycling plants.

Main collected recyclable materials are metals (49,75%), paper and cardboard (35,01%), plastics (11,15%) and glass (4,09%) (Aluna Consultores, 2011).

In relation with recyclers, some of the problems in the supply chain are: low revenues, involvement of children and lack of social security. The problems in the other parts of the chain are high levels of intermediation, high prices variability, lack of incentives to use recycled material, among others.

Last year, the Supreme Court recognized, in the Auto 275, the informal recyclers’ rights in the solid waste management and their accomplished labor, so it ordered to implement affirmative actions for the recyclers’ protection. Currently, the national and Bogota governments are studying the mechanisms to put into operation the order.

Waste Disposal & Treatment Facilies

Including the solid waste recycled by informal recyclers and industries (around 6.000 tons a day), 76% of solid wastes are disposed in landfills, around 19% are recycled, 1% are transported to recycling facilities operated by utility companies, 4% are disposed in illegal dumpsites, rivers or are fired in open areas


Source: Prepared by the author based on SSPD (2010) and Aluna Consultores (2011).

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