Investing in waste management

Investment is needed, particularly in developing countries, to help improve municipal solid waste management.

Policy in practice

› Regions: Europe

› Countries: United Kingdom

› Tags: Plastic, Infrastructure, Investment, Official development assistance

Waste management practices help to define the end of life for plastics, as well as helping to prevent waste altogether. Meeting minimum standards for waste management, and moving away from landfilling and incineration towards waste prevention, re-use and recycling should be primary objectives for investors. This is a global challenge, but of particular concern in developing countries. In 2016, the UN Environment Programme estimated as many as two billion people do not have access to basic municipal solid waste collection services.

OECD countries have a role to play in providing access to finance and investment through Official Development Assistance (ODA) to support the development of effective and environmentally-sound waste collection, sorting, and recycling infrastructure, including incentives or requirements for waste collection and management and plastics source separation.

In 2018, the UK government pledged GBP 20 million for waste management in developing countries and a further GBP 16.4 million specifically for the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance to reduce marine litter in Commonwealth countries.

Source report

Watkins, E., et al. (2019), "Policy approaches to incentivise sustainable plastic design", OECD Environment Working Papers, No. 149, OECD Publishing, Paris

Key policy message

OECD countries have a role to play in preventing environmental leakage of plastic waste to the ocean by providing access to finance and investing in the promotion of sustainable plastics in developing countries.