Zero Waste Project

The Project seeks to reduce the final disposal of solid waste in sanitary landfills, promoting small, medium and large entrepreneurs to recycle various materials, and use organic waste to produce compost, in order to migrate to a more efficient and environment-friendly circular economy.

Bolivia is an urban country. Of its 11.3 million inhabitants, 70% live in large, intermediate or small cities. In these areas, especially in intermediate and small cities, solid waste management services offer little coverage, quality and dependability. Since there is no adequate management system, the utilization of solid waste, its treatment and final disposal measures, contaminate the soil and bodies of water, generating public health problems.

Nearly half of the solid waste produced in the country ends up in sanitary landfills, which are almost exclusively located in metropolitan areas. About 90% of the final disposal sites are open-air dumps (without any technical or operational pollution control in place), and more than half of them are close to bodies of water. The collection service is weak and the reuse is negligible (less than 5% of the 50% of usable waste is being recycled).
Project duration
2020 - 2022
Financed by
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

The project

The project will contribute to the management of solid waste in Bolivia (at different levels and involving public, private and social stakeholders or actors) by prioritizing the reduction of solid waste, separation at the source and recycling, before the final disposal solutions. The approach adopted for this is to minimize the amount of waste (especially organic) that is buried in landfills or controlled landfills. This reduces the generation of leachates and greenhouse gases. At the same time, the maximization of the recycling reduces the waste that goes to landfills, contributing to a longer useful life of the sanitary landfills and greater efficiency in the system. This is not possible if there are no efficient systems in waste collection, transport and storage; if the population does not buy-in or feel responsible for environmental management and if service providers are not consolidated (technical and management capabilities). Finally, with less pollution, more adequate sectoral public policies and with efficient and sustainable services, it will directly contribute to the improvement of living conditions and specifically to public health.

The project promotes differentiated collection in homes, ensuring that composting inputs and reusable materials are not contaminated and can be reintroduced to the different production cycles. This new induced behavior will promote major changes in public and private solid waste management models.

The project is managed at three different levels. Swisscontact will manage the city of La Paz (1 million inhabitants), Tarija (with 250,000 inhabitants) will be managed by the Aguatuya Foundation, and the municipalities of the Bolivian Chaco (association of small municipalities - 65,000 inhabitants) will be managed by Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation.

Project Objectives

  1. Strengthening and improvement of solid waste collection and transportation systems with a vision of change aimed at differentiated systems that allow for separation at the source and reinsertion to production cycles. The project facilitates studies and pilot projects of differentiated collection that are later scaled throughout the city.
  2. Treatment systems, the use and commercialization of recyclable and organic waste are strengthened and scaled to the national level, under public and private, or public-private models. Swisscontact facilitates the studies and designs of organic waste composting plants, simultaneously supporting the generation of private waste recycling businesses through local marketing platforms.
  3. Strengthening of institutional capabilities. The project provides technical assistance and training to public and private actors to guide management towards the new models based on circular economy.

Project partner

  • Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
  • Aguatuya Foundation


Expected Results
  • Detailed diagnosis of the solid waste sector in Bolivia and sectorial strategies
  • Solid waste collection and transportation services optimised according to the differentiated collection strategy in the municipality of La Paz
  • Optimised cost structure and fixed waste collection fees in the municipalities of Chaco
  • Treatment, reuse and marketing of plastic, aluminum, paper, cardboard, and glass, strengthened nationwide
  • Treatment, reuse and marketing of organic waste, strengthened in La Paz and Tarija
  • Technical and professional skills in comprehensive solid waste management developed: postgraduate courses, technical specialization and short courses


Green cities
The first hospital in La Paz that manages organic waste
On 24th August, the Hospital de Clínicas de La Paz received two compost bins containing micro-organisms that speed up the composting process. The biofertilised soil produced by the composters will be used for the hospital's gardens.
Inauguration of the organic waste recycling pilot plant
The construction of the organic waste recycling plant located in the former Mallasa landfill has been inaugurated within the framework of the Zero Waste Project in Bolivia, financed by the Swedish International Development Agency and executed by Swisscontact and Helvetas.
New projects from Eastern Europe to Asia
In the first half of the year, Swisscontact received new mandates for project implementation on various continents. We would like to briefly introduce four of them: in Ukraine, we are developing the training of plumbers in partnership with the Swiss company Geberit and SDC. In Bolivia, we are promoting new models of waste separation and the...