Have you ever wondered if the materials you leave at recycling points are really repurposed? Have you wondered if your heroic act of separating your waste and taking it to the recycling point is really worth it? We imagine that you have had these doubts.

According to a recent study (June 2017) on solid waste in Panama, more than 5,009 tons of solid waste are generated daily, equivalent to about 1,827,190 tons per year. The study was carried out by INECO at the request of Panama’s Urban and Domiciliary Cleaning Authority.

In the rest of the world, the figures are not encouraging either. According to a World Bank report entitled “What a Waste 2.0”[1], 2,010 million tons of municipal solid waste are annually generated worldwide, and at least 33% of them fail to be managed without risk to the environment.

“The effects of the poor waste disposal directly pollute the soil and on water sources, but also the air because 70% of homes that don’t have a solid waste collection service, burn their waste as form of treatment. In other words, we are poisoning ourselves. This is no longer just about affecting the environment, but our lives” says Marisol Landau, president of FAS Panama.

So, from now on you can feel like a superhero for avoiding that more waste goes to the landfill.

Implementing a Solid Waste Management System (SGIDS) successfully, in a country without legislation or where it isn’t effectively applied, goes beyond having the infrastructure and processes properly defined. Waste management may be the highest budget item for local governments, according to the What a Waste 2.0 report, and that is why in our countries the process is still and will be very slow.

However, several studies confirm that this investment does have a positive impact on the countries’ economies, given that bad disposition of waste brings with it serious environmental problems that affect the population’s health and, therefore, quality of life.

The cost of doing nothing is greater than what’s required to turn things around; time is already working against us.

Up to here you probably already feel that you are saving the world with your recycling efforts. But let’s go back to see what happens, for example, with that can or glass bottle that you took to the collection center or placed at recycling points at the City of Knowledge. Find out the journey that follows after you drop off your waste; thank you for making a difference!

[1] What a Waste 2.0  https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/30317

If you want to invest or support financially, offer advice or volunteer time at the City of Knowledge Recycling Center, write to [email protected]. Its medium-term objective is to develop a recycling center capable of modeling important innovations that are replicable for Panama and beyond.

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