Waste Management in Buenos Aires

Changes in Urban Services: Managing Waste in the Global South
By Marie-Noëlle Carré

Cities in the South face important sanitary challenges from waste management, and yet the instigation of recycling systems is often a secondary preoccupation, to be dealt with once waste collection and landfill have been guaranteed for the whole of the population. In Buenos Aires, however, while the 2001 crisis exacerbated metropolitan socio-economic fragmentation and increased differentiation in access to urban services, new practices, actors and territories have emerged for waste management. Organised around sorting practices and re-use circuits, these transformations create complex debates which interrogate the meaning of sustainability in relation to the conditions of service provision which date from 1976: landfill security; incentives to encourage people to sort and to reduce waste; social acknowledgment of waste pickers. In spite of the production of regulatory tools by the different actors of this new governance of waste management, the organisational inertias of the service and the challenge of evacuating 15,000 tons of waste every day are a considerable limit to these reforms.

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