Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Layne Coppock


Layne Coppock


Claudia Radel


Joseph Tainter


As the world becomes more urbanized and developed consumption rates are on the rise. An inevitable consequence of more consumption is the rapid increase in the amount of solid waste that is produced. Today, solid-waste management (SWM) conditions in the developing world are often quite dire and reminiscent of those found in the developed world several generations ago. The impact of inadequate SWM practices on natural and human environments is now being acknowledged. This report is founded on a comprehensive literature review concerning SWM in developing countries. It also introduces a preliminary research design relevant to a SWM assessment for a hypothetical situation in Peru. The literature review is organized according to three categories of constraints—each paired with intervention concepts— that contribute to the mismanagement of solid waste. These are: 1) culture, knowledge, and microeconomics; 2) infrastructure, social provisions, and technology; and 3) policy, institutions, and macroeconomics. A fourth topic, namely integrated systems for SWM, is also reviewed because it allows for the simultaneous use of multiple interventions to address multiple constraints. Solid-waste management is a multidimensional issue that incorporates political, institutional, social, environmental, and economic aspects. Improving SWM in developing countries requires efforts to raise public awareness, increase funding, build expertise, and invest in infrastructure. To make progress communities will need to embrace new systems for SWM that are participatory, contextually integrated, complex, and adaptive.