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Improving waste management with ISWM

CLOCC is using the Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) approach as a framework for developing sustainable waste management plans in its partner countries.

CLOCC is currently using the ISWM approach in waste management planning in Banyuwangi, Indonesia, implemented by partner organisation InSWA (Indonesia Solid Waste Management Association).

ISWM is an inclusive, participatory process designed to improve waste management, livelihoods and urban governance in cities in the South and countries in transition. Its purpose is to create a locally grounded waste management plan that is suited for the local conditions, with broad stakeholder involvement and ownership.

The ISWM approach was developed to describe and address common challenges with waste management assessment and planning in low- and middle income countries, and transitioning countries.

The ISWM approach focuses on “two triangles” that stresses the importance of focusing on both the “hard” physical components and the “soft” governance aspects seen in the figure. ISWM is built on the waste hierarchy, emphasizing a need to prevent and reduce waste.

The ISWA 2 triangles framework illustrates the ISWM approach. Original source Wilson et al., 2013. This version redrawn for Whiteman et al., 2021 by Ecuson Studio. The inverted triangle representation was first used by Wilson, 1996. This version has been adapted from UNEP and ISWA, 2015 by Whiteman et al., 2021, and redrawn by Ecuson Studio.

It emphasizes the following principles in waste management planning: efficiency, effectiveness, equity, fairness and sustainability. Waste management should serve all regardless of socioeconomic status, costs should be distributed based on ability to cover them, it operates stable in the present without losing its potential to operate in the future, and efficiently delivers solid waste management per unit of cost, energy and labour.

The dimensions of ISWM

ISWM emphasizes three aspects of waste management, and stakeholders are the first dimension. They vary from different contexts, but typically include the municipality and the citizens using the system.

The second dimension is waste system elements, which includes the handling of solid waste and where it ends up. The waste hierarchy is key for the ISWM approach, which prioritises waste prevention, minimalisation, recycling and material recovery.

The third dimension consists of sustainability elements, ranging from political-legal, to social-cultural, institutional organizational, technical performance, environmental-health and financial-economic, cover all the elements in the waste management system and can assess its sustainability.

Steps to implement the ISWM assessment

Conducting an ISWM assessment requires seven steps. The first step in initiating and preparing the process. Ideally the initiative to improve waste management should derive from local stakeholders, meaning that there is a local interest in waste management. This can include a local municipality, NGO, community group or a company.

The second step is finding the baseline, which is necessary to identify what is working in the system, and what is not working. This baseline will provide an overview of how much waste is generated, which types of waste and where it goes. This will serve as the foundation for improving the waste management system.

The third step is the planning period, which includes developing planning factors, targets and goals for the waste management system. The output of the process is a “request to the governance institution” for how the sub-units and municipalities envision the solid waste/recycling system to function.

The fourth step in constructing technical and governance scenarios, and validating them in sub-units, municipalities and working groups.

The fifth step is drafting and validating the ISWM plan, which includes consultation and validation rounds in sub-units and municipalities, and presenting the draft to stakeholders.

The sixth step is creating an action plan with timeline and budget, and sharing it with stakeholders and the public.

Step seven is monitoring the plan and evaluating its effectiveness. This includes implementation, provider inclusivity, value chain relations, informal sector participation, technical performance and reduction of problems such as illegal dumping.

The ISWM process is designed to create a sustainable waste management system and an inclusive waste management plan. Through this approach, CLOCC seeks to reduce marine plastic pollution through creating better waste management on land.


The nine development bands: A conceptual framework and global theory for waste and development. 2021. Andrew Whiteman, Mike Webster, David C Wilson.


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