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Who will benefit from Colombia’s NAMA?

Colombia’s climate financing proposal for solid waste management was designed without citizen participation and based on questionable environmental standards.

Waste management generates 5% of Colombia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which is expected to grow rapidly under the “business as usual” scenario. Most of these emissions are methane from landfills in the country where most of the solid waste is processed. The consulting company CCAP (Centre for Clean Air Policy) has conducted research with national authorities to determine possible solid waste management strategies that can be added to NAMA (National Appropriate Mitigation Actions). Since COP 13 (2007), NAMA has been promoted as a tool and mechanism for obtaining climate funds for actions to reduce carbon emissionsi.

In short, the plan proposed for Colombia hopes to maximize the economic value of waste management and reduce landfill emissions by redirecting some of the waste to the resource recovery system.

A CCAP reportii claimed that the NAMA “will change the waste sector soon after implementation to achieve carbon neutrality”.

They proposed three courses of action; using waste to produce fuel; capturing methane in landfills; and separating organic waste and recyclables. However, when we look at the focus, we can see that the focus is mainly on the use of public sector co-financing and climate financing to promote the MBT plant (mechanical biological treatment plant, which aims to stabilize and reduce the amount of waste used for disposal) in Several cities. In contrast, for the separation of organic waste or recyclables, there is no mention of how to implement such a plan, whether it is organic waste or recyclables.

In addition, in the executive summary of its "NAMA Opportunity Assessment for the Colombian Solid Waste Sector," CCAP only mentions MBT plants and how they "produce refuse-derived fuel, recyclables and/or compost based on local market conditions." Recoverable elements".

This is a problematic proposal for two main reasons; first, because the use of waste to produce refuse-derived fuels and burn them in cement kilns is actually incineration, which is known to have adverse effects on society and the environment. choose. Incineration will burn recyclable resources, cause climate change, is costly, will not create jobs and cause serious environmental and health problems, and secondly, because the NAMA does not create incentives for the separation of organic waste and recyclables at the source, as As confirmed by CCAP's recommendations, they foresee that these "can be an effective part of a long-term comprehensive solid waste management plan", but they did not propose any direct measures for this. Investment in an MBT plant may actually become an obstacle to the development of more effective source separation and selective collection route plans.

CCAP's analysis did not take into account that source separation is necessary to obtain a high-quality final product, which is exactly what the MBT factory should manufacture. Once organic waste is mixed with other residues, no matter how advanced the mechanical separation technology is, the final product will lack quality and contain polluting elements. In addition, if source separation is not carried out, the recovery rate of recyclables in such facilities is very low (see Box 1).

In addition, the promotion of the source separation system is closely related to the livelihood and work of the scavengers (see Box 2), but the person who detailed the reports and documents related to this waste management NAMA did not consult them. They are only seen as the future workforce in the privatized waste management system.

Who will benefit from this NAMA?

According to existing official documents, municipalities will be encouraged to establish MBT factories and fund them through private public partnerships to increase returns and reduce investment risks. In this type of partnership, under Colombian law, investors can receive government subsidies up to 20% of the total construction and operating costs.

The document states, “Another important aspect of solid waste NAMA is that policies and business models are being designed to include informal workers in the modernization of the sector, giving them the opportunity to work in the formal economy and to raise their standards. Working and living conditions "

The problem is that the proposal does not say that scavengers will continue to do their work, which is what their organization and national coordinator have been fighting for for the past 20 years (link in Spanish). It just says that there will be an "integrated solid waste management process"—assuming that they are proposing that—the number of jobs created is 6 to 10 times the number of jobs focused on processing.

Regarding the work of scavengers, the existing documents only have a few polite words on "how to conduct additional analysis of the compost and recyclables market, and to specifically target the recycling process in the informal sector". The proposal actually claims that “the additional jobs created through solid waste NAMA can be used to hire a large number of existing informal workers, including many indirect jobs that will be created through increased recycling”iii, although there is no document detailing how to achieve the goal In addition to supporting the long-term growth of the industry and the production and sales of compost and RDF (refuse-derived fuel), the strategy

Finally, the plan outlined in the NAMA proposal has never been consulted with its intended beneficiaries. It seems that the people who conducted the research thought this was the best option for them, and ignored everything about their organizational environment, as well as the zero-waste programs that have been carried out in some major cities such as Bogotá.

Ignore the achievements of scavengers.

The Association of Scavengers in Bogotá (ARB; Asociación de Recicladores de Bogotá) has been systematically formulating sustainable and inclusive public waste management policies and intends to involve all scavengers in the city and provide a complete service.The Bogota City Government has formulated new regulations and established a system of direct payments to scavengers, funded by waste collection fees collected by end users. Following the reform and nationalization of the entire waste management system, the listed company Aguas Bogotá was ultimately responsible for waste collection. This process is the complete opposite of private operations supported by public subsidies-this is proposed by CCAP Waste Management NAMA.

ARB also understands that a waste management model that prioritizes collection and transportation will not only threaten the livelihoods of scavengers, but also threaten the value creation of the entire recycling chain. This is why ARB joined Pacto Gremial de Recicladores (Recyclers Guild Pact) in 2010, a national strategic alliance composed of garbage collectors, their organizations and organized intermediaries, responsible for processing recyclable residues. They believe that the right of the entire chain of scavengers to prosper in this chain must be protected and respected.

Zero social benefits and questionable environmental benefits.

The waste management NAMA proposed for Colombia is full of inaccuracies and needs to be clarified before the implementation phase. In the social welfare section, the document only says "no information is available", and they must be accurate, otherwise it will be misleading: for example, claiming that "recycling can create 6 to 8 times more jobs", but if this is what we call MBT plants , This is not true; MBT factories are highly mechanized and require very little labor, and the work of these factories has little to do with the skills of scavengers.

In terms of environmental benefits, the proposal states that it will obtain the "environmental benefits of recycling (avoiding the production of raw materials), composting (replacement of chemical fertilizers), and the use of RDF (replacement of coal in cement kilns and other industrial boilers)." This is not a case; MBT plants can usually recycle no more than 10% of recyclable materials, and since organic waste is mixed with all other types of waste, the compost they can produce is not real compost (it cannot be used as a substitute for fertilizer) or improved soil). The MBT plant is the last stop before disposal. In these proposals, the main goal is to produce RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) for the highly polluting and controversial cement industry.


Box 1

How does the MBT factory work?

These technologically advanced factories combine mechanical methods of waste sorting with biological treatment to treat the wet part of the waste. Part of these materials are recycled and reused, organic waste is stabilized through composting or anaerobic digestion processes, and a large part of the organic waste evaporates.

This type of factory only recycles a small part of the recyclable resources (5% to 10%), and because the waste is not separated from the source, the quality of the waste produced is very low, especially the organic matter, which makes their subsequent recycling become Very difficult, which means that most of the waste entering MBT will eventually be disposed ofiv.


Box 2

Scavengers have launched an international social movement, and an estimated 15 million people support it. These men and women waste their business, work and livelihood. Their position on the basis of recovered protein

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