Waste not, want not

Summer 2010

Jenny Kassman reports on a UN award winning community recycling project in Guantánamo

The large open waste tips where shanty town dwellers go scavenging in a desperate attempt to earn a living are an abiding stereotype of the developing world. Very little has been done by the governments of developing countries to find a solution to the problem of these tips because of the huge costs of purchasing the necessary technology. As in so many other areas of social need, it is Cuba where an affordable and efficient method of waste disposal to the benefit of the community has been developed.

In 2000, Irania Martínez García, currently director of the Centre for the Ecological Processing of Urban Waste (Centro Ecológico Procesador de Residuos Urbanos/CEPRU), had the idea of converting the open unofficial waste tip in the Calle 8, in the south of the city of Guantánamo where she lived, into an environment that would be not only productive and sustainable, but attractive and a focus for the local community. At the same time it would continue to be used for waste disposal.

The tip, which was the largest in the city, covered an area of 9 hectares (1 hectare = just under 2

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