President's Blog

5 Jun 2019 11:46 Age: 1 year

Guest Blog | Waste Management Challenges in Uruguay

Category: ISWA BLOG, ISWA News


CEGRU: Cámara de Empresas Gestoras de Residuos del Uruguay (The Association of Waste Management Companies of Uruguay) joined ISWA in January 2019 as its latest National Member and fifth National Member in Latin America.


Established in 2014, CEGRU is a civil association composed of more than thirty waste management companies that operate in all stages of the waste management system in Uruguay. Our mission is to develop and strengthen the waste management industry, in cooperation with public and private stakeholders.


Chiara Fioretto, Executive Manager of CEGRU, has written a guest blog for ISWA, sharing the current waste management situation in Uruguay.

In Uruguay there is a set of regulations for waste management, elaborated after the approval of the Law for the Protection of the Environment in the year 2000, which establishes the general legal framework for environmental regulations. We are currently in a transition as new standards for waste management are expected this year.

Sanitary waste and industrial solid waste have specific regulations that establish the responsibility for waste producers to draw up comprehensive waste management plans. Other waste streams are regulated by systems based on the Extended Producer Responsibility principle. This applies to packaging waste released at household level, regardless of the material used, packaging waste of chemical or biological products from plant or animal production (agrochemicals), used lead-acid batteries, and used tires. As for household waste management, the responsibility rests with the local governments, which exercise it directly or delegate it to private actors.

The efficiency of the waste management systems varies according to the waste stream. The regulation on industrial waste, for example, has improved the distribution of roles and responsibilities in the system and has consolidated a sector of formal operators of waste management services. The regulation on batteries has made progress in the establishment of a recovery system. However, there are still challenges in terms of law enforcement and control, as the illegal transport of batteries to bordering countries still occurs.

Regarding the management of packaging waste released at household level, the governance model created to run the recovery system is extremely complex, which has hindered its efficiency. In addition, recycling indicators are very low (nearly 3% of all packaging placed the market is recovered) and there is still little involvement of citizens in waste segregation, which makes it difficult for quality material to arrive sorting plants.

Contrary to countries such as Brazil or Colombia, Uruguay does not have a general legislative framework for the development of waste management activities. However, a Waste Management Law is currently being discussed in Parliament. If approved, this law will provide definitions and rules, along with the allocation of financing instruments so that local governments can improve waste management. In addition, it is expected that new regulations will be elaborated for construction and demolition waste and also e-waste.

The experience of the waste management sector is that regulations, by ordering and establishing clear roles and responsibilities, favor the activity of private companies and contribute to the improvement of the system as a whole. Even so, there are still many challenges to be addressed to achieve a substantial improvement in waste management in Uruguay:

First, there is the need to ensure that regulations for waste management are effectively enforced and complied with, with the corresponding penalties for non-compliance.

Second, to promote an improvement of the infrastructure in waste management, in particular with regard to landfills, is crucial. Currently, among the 22 final disposal sites that receive more than 10 tons of waste per day, only two can be classified as sanitary landfills, one of which is located in Montevideo, the capital of the country. In terms of tons, these sanitary landfills receive more than half of the household waste generated at a national level. However, the situation continues to be challenging in the rest of the country, with the existence of dumpsites without any environmental control.

Finally, a great challenge continues to be to generate effective communication campaigns that allow educating and training the population in order to create sustainable waste management habits.


Find out more about CEGRU, ISWA's National Member in Uruguay, here.