by Antonis Mavropoulos*



On 1 March, in Sao Paolo, Brazil I had the pleasure and the honor to present the “Guidelines for Waste Master Plans” in a dedicated event organized by The Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Wastes Company (ABRELPE), the Environmental Company of the State of San Paolo (CETESBE), and the Regional Government of Sao Paolo.

The guidelines have been developed jointly by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and ABRELPE under an ISWA grant and are available for free downloading in Portuguese and English. Having edited and contributed to the scientific guidance of the document, I was more than glad to present the state of the art concepts about planning. My experience in Latin America and close cooperation with ABRELPE shaped the document to include many practical suggestions and tools to support local authorities and planners to implement their waste master plans.

The issue of planning becomes more and more important in Latin America, especially due to three regional particularities. Rapid urbanization remains a prevalent issue because it creates a new landscape for local authorities. Another important consideration is the need for inclusive planning that takes into consideration informal sector activities. Adding the huge inequalities that characterize the economic and social life found in Latin America and the Caribbean, the challenge of sound waste management planning is becoming apparent.

There are many issues to manage for a successful waste management plan, but the most important one is to elaborate and study the baseline data in detail because a thorough understanding of it will allow you to create realistic scenarios for future improvement. With experience in 15 different countries, I have found that improvements are made only when you build on an existing system, taking into account its strengths and making improvements it in the most crucial parts. I strongly suggest benchmarking and the use of appropriate indicators for describing waste management systems. The use of a free on-line tool from Atlas ( can be a good start as it includes global data and correlations between waste management indicators and macro-economic and social parameters.

I hope that you will enjoy the guidelines, as much as the Brazilian audience.


* Antonis Mavropoulos is a Chemical Engineer and holds a Management degree from IESE Business School. He is the founder and the CEO of the D-waste company which aims to make waste management easily available and accessible to everyone (
He is the Chair of the ISWA Scientific – Technical Committee from November 2008, Waste Management Expert at the European Economic and Social Council from June 2009 and Member of the European PPP Center from 2007.
He has worked as waste management consultant in many countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America since 1995. He has completed more than 150 projects in Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Hungary and Greece. He is the author of several scientific books and technical papers.
Last years he has focused on the linkages between Globalization and Waste Management, megacities and global recycling markets, while he keeps working on treatment and disposal projects.
Recently, he initiated a global discussion regarding  the use  of mobile apps in waste management, producing some unique apps for professionals.