Waste—its generation, collection and disposal—is a major global challenge in the 21st century. Cities are responsible for managing municipal waste. Solid waste management is, arguably, the single most important function of cities: waste that is not collected on a timely basis creates a public health hazard, and organic waste, collection vehicles, and most waste disposal methods, with the notable exception of recycling, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. But the management of waste depends in large part on the global markets for recycled materials. The financial crisis that started in September 2008 exposed the interdependence of global markets and local supply of recycled materials. With the sudden drop in global demand for manufactured goods, the global demand for recycled materials—used as raw materials and packing materials—also dropped suddenly. Unsold recycled materials started to accumulate in ships, ports, warehouses, city streets and neighborhoods around the world as early as October 2008.


Chen, Martha. "First Take: Waste -- Global Challenge, Latin American Lessons." ReVista: The Harvard Review of Latin America. Winter 2015.