Download the México City briefing (english) Download the México City briefing (spanish)

Global waste management issues |

Every year, an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected worldwide. It takes a lot of energy to manufacture, transport and dispose of goods and the waste that these become. Decay of organic waste also emits methane, which contributes 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. While it is possible for waste to be transformed into energy or resources, cities are struggling to effectively achieve this. Cities must think more wisely and creatively about how waste is produced, managed and transformed.

México’s waste problem

México City, an enormous sprawling city, has struggled with waste for many years. With the closure of its largest landfill, and new initiatives to promote recycling and waste-to-energy solutions, México City is now in a position to be an example for the region. But behaviours and mindsets still have a long way to go. And there is lots that design can do here. Building on political momentum, we are calling on designers to use their creative problem-solving skills to imagine new narratives, services, products, spaces and systems to encourage cleaner and greener waste handling behaviours across México City.


How can we encourage people to treat waste as a resource in homes and workplaces across Mexico City?


A lot of waste ends up in illegal dump sites. A new garbage separation law is a step in the right direction, but it’s small-scale and too many people still do not know which bins items should go into. Others, ignorant of the consequences of their actions, do not respect the system at all and simply throw their garbage onto the streets.

“The separation of solid waste is seen as an action of cultural habits, environmental awareness and co-responsibility between government, comment, businesses and citizens.”


Consider how to improve household attitudes and behaviours towards recycling and reuse. Think about how waste can be transformed to help people to see waste as a valuable resource, rather than simply trash. For example, look at how it can be converted into energy. Rethink how waste is collected and transported: can it be localised to neighbourhoods, rather than city-wide? And explore how overall waste can be reduced through campaigns, products or services.

Find out more and download the city briefing below for background information, suggestions on where design can make a difference, impact areas and inspiring examples.

Download the México City briefing (english) Download the México City briefing (spanish)