Integrated solid waste management

Technology group

Integrated solid waste management (ISWM) can be defined in different ways, but it refers to the strategic approach to sustainable management of solid wastes covering all sources and all aspects such as waste generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal in an integrated manner, with an emphasis on maximizing resource use efficiency. A plausible solution to waste management would be an integrated approach which would include collective management of all types of wastes and implementation of the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) policies and strategies

Responds to the following needs

  • Efficient waste management system
  • Reduced local air, water and land pollution
  • Waste prevention and resource efficiency

Suitable for

  • Cities and urban areas​

Relevant CTCN Technical Assistance

Relevant Technical Needs Assessments

See further relevant TNA's in the TNA Database


Below are some of the concepts and aspects considered in an integrated solid waste management system. Depending on local conditions and needs, the appropriate combination of activities can be applied. These waste management activities can be undertaken either interactively or hierarchically

  • Waste prevention: also called "source reduction", seeks to prevent waste from being generated. Waste prevention strategies include using less packaging, designing products to last longer, and reusing products and materials. Waste prevention helps reduce handling, treatment, and disposal costs and ultimately reduces the generation of methane. 
  • Recycling and composting: recycling is a process that involves collecting, reprocessing, and/or recovering certain waste materials (e.g. glass, metal, plastic, paper) to make new materials or products. Some recycled organic materials are rich in nutrients and can be used to improve soils. The conversion of waste materials into soil additives is called composting. Recycling and composting generate many environmental and economic benefits. For example they create jobs and income, supply valuable raw materials to industry, produce soil-enhancing compost, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the number of landfills and combustion facilities. 
  • Disposal (landfilling and combustion): These activities are used to manage waste that cannot be prevented or recycled. One way to dispose of waste is to place it in properly designed, constructed, and managed landfills, where it is safely contained. Another way to handle this waste is through combustion. Combustion is the controlled burning of waste, which helps reduce its volume. If the technology is available, properly designed, constructed, and managed, landfills can be used to generate energy by recovering methane. Similarily, combustion facilities produce steam and water as a by-propduct that can be used to generate energy. 

For more information see Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies

Co-benefits of this technology

  • Reduced health impacts particularly on communities in the vicinity of dumpsites.
  • Reduced pollution of surface and sub-surface water bodies due to leachate contamination.
  • Reduced air pollution from emissions of spontaneous combustion in dumps.
  • Reduced impacts on fauna and flora

Case studies


International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) 

International Solid Waste Association 

National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP)