Waste Disposal and Recycling Challenges: The Case of Haiti and The Dominican Republic

Authors: John E. Bodenman*, Bloomsburg University, Jennifer J. Haney, Bloomsburg University, Blair Johnston, Bloomsburg University
Topics: Economic Geography, Business Geography, Resources
Keywords: municipal solid waste, Haiti, Dominican Republic, plastics, recycling
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Municipal solid waste (MSW) generation and disposal has become a significant and growing global problem. Population growth, growing consumerism, lack of publically available disposal services, as well as the general lack of large and steady markets for recyclable materials, particularly for plastics, has exacerbated the waste generation and disposal problem, particularly in poor developing countries like Haiti and the Dominican Republic where plastics have become an exponentially growing component of the waste stream. Generally, waste disposal options exist on a spectrum ranging from open-air dumps to sanitary landfills. In Haiti, the primary disposal site for Port-au-Prince, the country’s largest urban area, is the Truitier open-air dump, estimated to receive 1,000 tons of waste per day, much of the waste increasingly some form of plastic, putting the environment and health of the population at serious and increasing risk. In Santo Domingo, the local MSW landfill Duquesa is struggling with overcapacity, and thus large accumulations of waste creating small garbage dumps on sidewalks and in the streets, much of which is some form of plastic. In short, numerous challenges exist for effectively addressing the MSW generation and disposal problems in both Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. This paper outlines a number of these challenges, with a particular interest and focus on the sources, creation, and disposal of plastic waste. The analysis highlights several encouraging recent small business developments that can serve as a model for creating both employment opportunities, as well as markets for recyclable plastic materials.

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