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Bogota’s Waste to Resource Journey: Phase 2 Revised- Waste Management Plan 

Niyireth Torres's picture
urban Planner , Renewable energy enthusiast

I help cities, towns, and communities achieve sustainable practices by providing strategic planning using my knowledge of green building practices, renewable energy, architecture, and the retail...

  • Member since 2019
  • 20 items added with 13,661 views
  • May 25, 2021

Waste is damaging to our planet. It affects the air quality and climate, and managing waste properly can save energy and space. My initial phase 2 consisted of the plastic-free pledge, but it was too limiting by considering a part of the waste issue. It only focused on plastic and biodegradable waste, leaving out medical waste, electronic waste, hazardous waste, industrial waste, agricultural waste, among others. 


The Waste Management Plan has to have the National Circular Economy Plan in mind. Following the 9Rs of the circular economy: rethink, repair, restore, remanufacture, reduce, repurpose, recycle and recover. Current national examples of the circular economy look something like this:


  1. A processing plant produces pineapple juice as a product and has tons of pineapple tops to dispose of; Lifepack picks up the pineapple waste and converts them into biodegradable plates containing seeds in them. When used, disposal consists of composting or planting.

  2. Another example is in the textile industry. Every nine months, the banana plant grows and produces bananas, then the mother plant dies. The baby plants around the base can be transplanted or left to replace the mother plant by removing the dead plant. Unfortunately, banana plants are one of the world's most wasteful crops; for every metric ton of fruit, a plantation produces 2 tons of debris. A solution is converting banana plants into textile by feeding them into an extractor. Indianes Footwear, a Barcelona-based company, uses banana fibers from the Huila region in Colombia to make shoes. They are biodegradable and take two years to biodegrade after being buried without producing any harmful contamination. 


On a local level, I have to consider Bogota's 2020-2050 Climate Action Plan (PAC) to become carbon neutral by 2050. One of the leading mitigation actions requires biodegradable material and recyclable material for the circular economy. Bogota can't design products, but it can select strategies, implement timelines, and require and incentivize a circular economy. For this, I have divided the plan of action into four sections: 


  1. Rethink:


Rethinking waste from disposable to an opportunity for new businesses. Strategies that can help with that would be:


  •  Being part of the FAB City Global Initiative, a challenge to produce everything that a city consumes by 2054 for locally productive and globally connected cities and citizens. 

  • Create a transparent environment in the decision-making process with the community. 

  • Create engaging educational programs with the public on wastes classification. 

  • Create local measuring reports for real-time viewing. For example, to see how on track the city is to be carbon neutral by 2050.


II. Prevention and Reduction:


This section includes financial strategies to reduce the use of single-use plastics. These tax incentives are for every metric ton reduced in waste.


  • Incentivize the plastic production sector to invest in bioplastics for packaging, disposable plates, disposable cutlery, and straws. The plastic bag tax, although effective it still does not make a dent in the whole picture of consumer habits. The push back from the plastic sector, and the increase in demand for single-use plastics with the pandemic, has not helped in reduction. The plastic industry can invest in the production of bioplastics with team-ups with existing companies to keep up with demand. The incentives are put in place to make bioplastic production more affordable. Bioplastics are a better alternative to plastic; they can be composted in a facility or converted for biogas.   

  • Incentivize the plastic sector to shift production to medical products. With the pandemic, there is demand for the production of medical products. Instead of building more manufacturing facilities, retrofit the existing facilities for single-use plastics for medical supplies. 

  • Incentivize the restaurant sector to use bioplastics instead of regular plastics. If every restaurant and bar replaced their single-use plastics for bioplastics, the trash collection could be straightforward. The bioplastic can be put on the compostable bin and composted or converted into biogas. Again, the incentive would be for their contribution to the production of energy in the city.

  • Incentivize the reduction of disposable cutlery and straws. For example, instead of restaurants automatically giving cutlery with delivery, there would be an opt-in option for people who want cutlery. 

  • Incentivize the shipping industry to use reusable options for delivery. For example, focus on reducing the use of plastic stretch film to secure pallets for their transportation, with reusable possibilities, such as Galaxypack


III. Usage and diversion: 


It's a shorter-term solution implemented at once. Strategies include the creation of systems for usage and diversion. 


  • Create separate handling for hazardous waste with drop-off centers or drop-off days. Have different days outside of the regular trash days to collect hazardous waste, including medical waste, chemical waste, batteries, and oils. The trucks in the fleet would be of a different color, and there would be a color-coded bag system where, for example, the waste would be in red bags.

  • Create networks and incentives between medium to large companies and small companies for material exchange. Repurposing waste saves companies garbage costs and the time dealing with it. The challenge is that there is no formal network where companies can meet up to find another company to use post-production material. The Chamber of Commerce of Bogota can be the place that can offer that network. In addition, medium to large companies that want to eliminate post-production waste can be part of a list where small companies apply for taking care of the waste to be converted into another product. 

  • Create a recollection system for recycling and other waste; an example is the app Recypuntos. An initiative born out of the trash and sanitary crisis lived in Bogota in 2013. It strengthens the circular economy process and reverse logistics in the business and domestic sectors to value materials and waste. Recypuntos collects, categorizes, and provides debris to a company that can transform them. It manages 12 waste streams, but it specializes primarily in plastic. It solves three problems: facilitating where or how to dispose of your waste, recovering material for companies to transform and manage them, and making it affordable for companies to reuse and transform waste.

  • Implement a point-earning incentive per kilo of waste put into the production cycle for the residents of Bogota that can earn money. Instead of just making points and spending them in specific companies, it would be turned into cash and used as savings, savings for health saving accounts, or money. For this existing incentives have to be optimized and expanded such as Cubo R3, Ciclo, Bancanaima and A mas Reclaje, mas Mercado.

  • Create community repair and reuse centers or businesses for second-hand goods. For example, increase the repair of discarded items such as furniture, textiles, and electronics by using Retuna as a business model. Retuna is the first mall that sells restored discarded items in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Located next to the city dump, it recovers items that are repaired, cleaned, and priced. The stores pay nothing for donated items but pay rent and the restoration costs. In addition, Ikea has a second-hand pilot store in the mall. Everything rejected is sent back to the dump.   


IV. Disposal:


To be used as the last resort with the intention of the reduction and the elimination of landfills. 


  • Identify and analyze the energy recovery potential with biogas.

  • Focus on local safe disposal. 


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