13.4.2 Encouraging Technology Transfer
Many of the actions that promote technology transfer within a country should
involve government agencies, private entities and local community organisations
to be fully successful (see Chapter 4 on the role of enabling
environments for technology transfer). In general, the government-driven pathway
tends to dominate in this sector. National governments typically set standards
and priorities for waste management through legislation or regulation. National
governments also historically have provided funding for major investments, either
from internal sources or by obtaining loans from multilateral development banks.
However, all levels of government are involved in waste management and this
pathway has increasingly expanded to include regional and municipal governments.
Activities along the government-driven pathway are also expanding to include
additional actors, especially the private sector and community groups.
In addition, private sector and community-driven pathways are playing more important
roles in technology transfer within the waste sector. Private entities ranging
from individual entrepreneurial garbage collectors to large domestic or multinational
enterprises are participating in waste management operations (Mangal, 1996).
While the private sector's participation in waste management projects is often
in government-driven projects, private enterprises are developing independent
projects as well. Similarly, community groups are beginning to develop projects
outside of government pathways that support the provision of waste management
services to local populations. These informal activities are more common in
developing countries and CEITs, and hold significant promise for the expansion
of waste management services in the future. As the importance of community involvement
for successful waste management has become evident, moreover, community groups
have become more important actors in the government and private sector pathways
The discussion that follows describes five broad types of actions to encourage
technology transfer in the waste management sector, and particularly to ensure
deployment of mitigation technologies. Many of these actions will be most frequently
employed along the dominant government-driven pathway. However, depending upon
the specific circumstances of countries, different pathways and actors may be
Policy and Regulatory Development: A framework for waste management is essential
to promote technology transfer in this sector. Activities involving policies
and regulations are typically government driven, with various government agencies
responsible for development and implementation. Most often, this framework is
defined by the national government, with various implementation requirements
borne by local government agencies (or in some cases, private companies) that
operate the waste management system.
Extensive technology transfer activities are already underway within countries
as governments strive to improve their policy and regulatory frameworks for
waste management. Consideration of policy and regulatory issues can be beneficial
in all countries. Challenges within regulatory and policy frameworks may be
particularly acute in developing countries and CEITs, and even more so where
government agencies and institutional frameworks may be weak. In particular,
enforcement capabilities may be limited in many developing countries and CEITs.
Thus, new regulatory frameworks frequently may need to be coupled with capacity
building programmes aimed at facilitating the effective implementation of policies
Based on past experience, the most successful frameworks will be those that
were developed through the participation of many parties, especially those directly
affected by changes in waste management practices and those directly responsible
for maintaining the system. If regulatory and policy frameworks for waste management
are impractical or unachievable, they will not work. Some of the most effective
frameworks are those that develop integrated approaches toward waste management,
encouraging a mix of waste management approaches (such as source reduction,
recycling and appropriate disposal and treatment) that are specifically adapted
to local conditions (Bartone, 1997). Careful attention to the needs and capabilities
of those that will implement the policies and regulations is also crucial, in
order to ensure that the new frameworks are practical.
The involvement of community groups is necessary if the continuing challenges
of the waste management are to be addressed. Ultimately, the success of any
waste management system will depend upon the acceptance and participation of
local populations. Thus, a country's policy and regulatory framework will likely
be most effective if it reflects the needs and priorities of local populations.
While the importance of local support might seem most obvious in developing
countries and CEITs where significant changes in waste disposal practices may
be required, it is also important for developed countries (Serageldin, 1994).
The involvement of the private sector is also important. In most countries,
the private sector has not traditionally played a major role in the design of
regulatory or policy frameworks in the waste management sector. If enhanced
private sector participation is desired, however, it is essential that appropriate
legal and regulatory frameworks are put in place (ADB, 1996). Private sector
feedback to government agencies can greatly improve the effectiveness of policies
by identifying barriers constraining private investment. Lack of clarity in
requirements, unclear procedures and timelines for obtaining permits or approvals,
and overlapping jurisdictions are examples of barriers that can be addressed.
Emphasis on public-private exchanges on regulatory and policy issues can be
beneficial in all countries. They may be particularly valuable in CEITs and
developing countries, however, where the private sector may be weak, the judicial
system less developed, and relations between the private sector and the government
more tenuous. CEITs, especially, may confront special challenges due to the
lack of a strong private sector and the suspicion government agencies frequently
have for private companies. In developing countries, another challenge will
likely be how to involve the variety of private entities (including micro-enterprises
and informal groups of individuals) that play essential roles in the waste management
Mitigation technologies can be encouraged in many ways through policies and
regulations. First, governments can directly mandate certain approaches as a
means of minimising GHG emissions or achieving other environmental benefits.
In the United States, for example, methane emissions from landfills will be
reduced by almost 50% by 2000 as a result of a regulatory action taken to reduce
VOC emissions (USEPA, 1999b). Similarly, methane generation can be reduced through
government policies or regulations for waste separation or recycling. To date,
such policies have been motivated by the scarcity of suitable landfill capacity,
and have had the secondary benefit of reducing GHG emissions. In 1992, for example,
Australia adopted a National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Strategy, the
goal of which was to reduce landfilled waste by 50 per cent between 1990 and
2000. Governments can also modify regulations in other sectors to reduce barriers
to the use of mitigation technologies in the waste sector. In Japan, for example,
the national government revised existing regulations in the power sector to
create a market for energy from waste incineration plants. This action facilitated
rapid expansion of waste incineration, which has contributed to lower overall
Innovative Financing Approaches2
Waste management projects, especially large centralised landfills and wastewater
treatment plants, can require large investments that traditionally have been
provided by governments. This approach has limitations, however, particularly
when financial requirements exceed a government's capabilities. Limited financing
capacities are most severe in developing countries and CEITs, where local populations
may lack adequate waste management services and existing infrastructure is deteriorating
from lack of maintenance. Even in developed countries, however, the costs of
maintaining and upgrading waste management systems can be high (Serageldin,
Both national and local governments are turning to the private sector in this
era of financial shortages. Some governments are leasing concessions for solid
waste management services, others are encouraging project finance using end-user
fees to recoup investment costs, and still others are privatising waste disposal
and sanitation services (World Bank, 1996). National governments may be able
to assist municipalities in the development of innovative approaches for attracting
private sector participation. Attracting private capital can be difficult, however,
unless the relevant agencies have strong financial management and accounting
practices, transparent procedures, competitive procurements, and reliable supervisory
and monitoring capabilities (World Bank, 1996). Where financial management is
a barrier, the national government may be able to assist municipalities in addressing
financial weaknesses and attracting private investment.
The municipalities that have dealt most successfully with their increased role
in waste management have tended to be those that emphasise locally appropriate
waste management approaches with lower financial requirements. In Badong, Indonesia,
for instance, a sustainable recycling project employing people who had previously
scavenged at open dumps was developed as an alternative to the more conventional
centralised landfill model. By creating a strong recycling industry, needs for
an expensive landfill were reduced and a variety of secondary markets in recycled
materials were created (ICLEI, 1997). Similarly, a recent project in Cairo,
Egypt, focused on no- and low-cost measures for wastewater treatment including
waste minimisation, and wastewater treatment facilities were installed only
where necessary. In addition, this project emphasised local design and manufacturing
of facilities to ensure sustainability (Myllyla, 1995).
If innovative financing approaches are in use for basic waste management services
within a country, financing should be available for mitigation technologies.
In many developed countries, mitigation technologies are frequently developed
by the private sector, with limited direct involvement of government agencies.
Examples include some recycling programmes and many projects that recover methane
from landfills. Similar approaches may be replicable in developing countries
and CEITs, particularly in middle-income cities with strong institutions. Moreover,
successful technology transfers will likely increase emphasis on alternative
waste management approaches, which are often very environmentally beneficial.
It is likely that central governments will continue to underwrite some investments
in the sector through grants, subsidies, and revenue sharing (World Bank, 1996).
If appropriate, these government agencies could require that available mitigation
approaches be employed as a condition of support.
Capacity Building: Efforts to improve the institutional capacity for waste management
are critical. Many of these activities will be initiated by government agencies,
but in many cases the target audience may include the private sector and community
groups. Appropriate capacity building activities are varied, but could include:
- Training: Training needs are likely to be extremely varied depending on
national circumstances. For government staff, training aimed at improving
management and administrative skills may be important, particularly where
responsibility for waste management programmes is devolving from national
agencies to lower levels of government. Technology transfer regarding waste
management options, project finance, and regulatory development and enforcement
are other examples of possible training needs. Local private companies may
need management and technical training to assist them in establishing viable
small enterprises that can implement locally based projects, many of which
are very environmentally desirable. This type of training may be particularly
valuable in CEITs and developing countries. It may also be desirable to train
local community organisations and decision makers in both general waste management
issues and those issues specific to the project under consideration. Such
training can ensure that the community understands the project context, is
committed to the project goals, and has the ability to maintain it.
- Local Assessments: Cooperative assessment activities involving government
agencies, the private sector, and community representatives should be undertaken
to determine waste management priorities. Local representatives should participate
in the assessment and prioritisation of waste management issues, so as to
ensure that local needs and priorities are incorporated into project design
and also obtain the support of local populations. In addition, these representatives
can ensure that the cost of services is in line with the benefits to the population.
The differences in cost between basic and full waste management services can
be substantial, for example, and it is important to determine the level of
service communities want and are willing to pay for before developing the
system (Serageldin, 1994).
- Information Exchanges: Where waste management systems are changing rapidly
or new approaches are being piloted within a country, information exchange
and discussion among a wide range of parties can be valuable. In addition
to national or regional experts, the involvement of local municipal decision
makers and administrative staff, NGOs, and community leaders can be important.
Information exchange can occur through clearinghouses, peer networks, government
outreach or education programmes, or other means, depending on the type of
information being shared and the participants.
Capacity building activities are necessary for all types of waste management
projects, including those that include mitigation technologies. Depending on
the extent to which mitigation strategies encourage waste management approaches
that are more innovative, use newer technologies, or involve more groups, however,
expanded technical and institutional assistance may be needed.
Incentives: Incentives can encourage specific activities or technologies, and
can be employed by government to catalyse development of mitigation technologies.
Incentives can take many forms, including tax breaks, subsidies, preferential
financing, or expedited regulatory approvals. Incentives can be designed to
draw attention to desired project types, and to address barriers to project
implementation. Many incentives affecting mitigation technologies have been
implemented, although to date few have been explicitly motivated by the desire
to reduce GHG emissions. In the U.S., for example, methane recovery projects
at landfills have, at various times, been eligible for tax incentives provided
by both Federal and state governments, as well as preferential financing and
streamlined regulatory approvals (USEPA, 1997b). For the most part, these policies
have been designed to promote renewable energy or to diversify energy supply,
as opposed to explicitly intending to reduce methane emissions. Similarly, the
national government of Japan has provided subsidies to local governments for
construction of waste incineration plants (Tanaka and Ikeguchi, 1998). The policy,
which was motivated by extremely limited landfill capacity in Japan, has resulted
in construction of almost 2,000 incinerators.
Voluntary Programmes: Many of the activities described above can be incorporated
into voluntary programmes,
which can be used to encourage wider participation in project development, to
foster better coordination among agencies, or to encourage the consideration
and implementation of desired technologies. Government agencies at all levels
may undertake voluntary programmes, depending on the particular barriers to
be addressed. Voluntary programmes promoting recycling, composting, and waste
minimisation have also been implemented in many countries with much success.
The U.S. EPA also uses a voluntary programme to promote methane recovery from
landfills (USEPA, 1997b).