The total quantity of waste generated in low-income countries is expected to increase by more than three times by 2050. The problem is growing in the East Asia and Pacific regions which generate 23 percent of the world’s waste. Like many countries, the Lao PDR is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts and environmental challenges are anticipated to become more urgent in the future. Waste generation is growing in-line with urbanization with some 35.6 % of Laos’ population already living in urban areas which are growing at a rate of 3.2% per year. In Vientiane Capital alone, municipal solid waste is projected to increase by over 60% by 2030 from 1,004 to 1,675 MT/day.
The service sector in the Lao PDR is rapidly expanding and contributed to 31.6% of total employment in 2019. However, it is also a large waste generator with guesthouses, hotels, and shops producing high volumes of waste, with 24kg/day per 30 rooms in hotels and guesthouses and 9kg/shop/day on average.
The waste management and recycling system is currently not able to keep up with the amount of waste produced. Insufficient waste separation, collection, and disposal and under-developed recycling processes are major limiting factors in dealing with the issue. There is little upcycled product generation in country and value-addition for recyclable materials generally occurs after they are exported. These issues serve to dis-incentivize good environmental practices. The low rate of waste segregation leads to many recyclable materials ending up in landfills or being illegally burned - contributing to environmental and health problems.
Informal waste pickers play an important role in the waste management system through collecting recyclables such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, or paper from households, buildings and businesses and then sorting and selling them to scrap shops to make profit. However, informal waster pickers suffer from low social status and bargaining power, lack protective equipment, have often no storage to stockpile and are exposed to unstable prices.
 Sustainable Solid Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan for Vientiane, Koica, VCOMS, GGGI. Forthcoming 2020.
 Ibid., Koica, VCOMS, GGGI. Forthcoming 2020.
The Waste to Value project plans to address the above mentioned constraints by engaging the service sector to improve waste management in selected districts of Vientiane Capital and Vientiane Province. The project will seek to support better waste segregation practices at source, introduce more efficient use of resources in production and consumption, develop a larger network of those engaged in circular economy practices, commercialise innovative green products and services available to the market, and improve public-private partnerships that support environmental responsibility. This is complemented with efforts to strengthen the capacities of informal waste pickers to become more efficient and increase work place safety.
The overall objective of the project is on the one hand reducing the operational costs of service sector businesses for water, electricity and waste disposal which leads to an increase in their income to retain and/or create green jobs. This will be achieved through
This project is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).