The World Bank defines waste collection as transporting waste from where it is produced (settlements, and industrial commercial and institutional areas) to a site for treatment or disposal. Research on a waste collection multi-objective model says that waste collection, although visible municipal work, requires high investment and operational and environmental services cost. Another problem is the unequal collection rate amongst countries. A report from the World Bank shows a 48% collection rate in low-income countries. The figure is even lower (26%) outside urban areas. For instance, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment of Indonesia shows that the percentage of plastic waste leakage into the seas, lakes, and rivers in rural areas of that country is almost four times higher than in urban areas due to the high volume of mismanaged wastes from dumping on land and in dumpsites and open burning. In contrast, high-income countries, such as those in Europe, North America, and Central Asia, can collect at least 90% of wastes.

A waste collection system has containers for waste, a management method, waste pickup, and collection vehicles. In general, several methods are used to collect wastes from waste generators and bring them to waste treatment or disposal plants. Municipal solid waste  can be collected in five ways: house to house, where wastes are collected individually from generators’ houses by paid waste collectors; community bins, where wastes are brought by generators to community bins; curb-side pickup, where wastes are placed outside generators’ houses and picked up on schedule; self-delivered, where wastes are delivered directly to disposal or transfer points; and contracted or delegated service, where wastes are collected on schedule by appointed firms and customers pay the charges.

Japan uses the curb-side method, where household wastes are collected by residents based on schedules set by municipalities. For example, in a particular area, Mondays and Thursdays are assigned for burnable waste, Tuesdays for recyclable waste, and Fridays for non-burnable waste. Different areas in a particular city may have different schedules for collection. Before collection, wastes are first sorted by residents. Some wastes require specific treatment. For instance, milk cartons must first be washed, rinsed, dried, flattened, and bundled along with other cartons. For polyethylene terephthalate or PET bottles, labels must be removed and bottlecaps separately collected. Bottlecap rings may be separated before bottles are crushed in a recycling facility. Many cities have guidebooks on how to dispose of waste (Table 1).

Table 1. Waste Disposal Guidebooks (in English) of Several Cities in Japan

Waste Management: Collection from Waste Generators (Table 1)

Waste-sorting classification differs amongst cities.  Classification is determined by the local government, taking into account the intermediate treatment plants it operates and the downstream industries that recycle or treat specific wastes.

In the Philippines, local governments handle the collection of non-recyclable waste as mandated by Republic Act 9003. For example, Metro Manila mainly implements the house-to-house method for collecting wastes. A detailed plan, comprising waste collection service, routes, and vehicles, is managed by the local government. Marikina City, in Metro Manila, provides waste collection service in its barangays (the smallest administrative unit). Wastes from households, markets, and commercial areas are collected based on two categories: biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Biodegradable wastes are delivered to disposal sites, where they are compacted and covered with soil. Non-biodegradable wastes are distributed to recycling stations for sorting. The sorted recyclable wastes are stored temporarily before being handed over to downstream recyclers.

Besides providing waste collection service in general, some ASEAN+3 countries have several programmes to specifically manage recyclable wastes. In Indonesia, the Bank Sampah or the Waste Bank is an example of a programme to collect recyclable wastes, which are bought for certain prices, depending on their type and cleanliness (Kojima, 2019). In the city of Malang, the Bank Sampah programme is facilitated by the local government through the Cleaning and Gardening Agency to encourage active public participation in municipal waste management from the source. Bank Sampah Malang has greatly influenced the perspective of the local people, who used to see waste as a problem and now see it as a source of money. The programme targets housewives since they are central in managing household wastes.

Similar to the waste bank is the buy-back centre, which buys collected recyclable wastes from dealers, including junk shops, at a determined price. This practice is different from the old collection method, where collectors buy wastes at a low price. Buy-back centres have been established in countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. For example, Wongpanit, a junk shop franchise in Thailand, posts buying prices in front of its shops and on its website to encourage people to bring in recyclable wastes.

In the Philippines, recyclable wastes are recovered in barangay materials recovery facilities (MRFs). Their establishment is regulated under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001. MRFs are classified as clean or dirty. Clean MRFs are established where wastes have been properly separated at source. Dirty MRFs sometimes have composting units to manage separated biodegradable wastes. This type of facility frequently generates leachate and emissions.  An MRF can process 1–5 tonnes of mixed wastes daily. It starts by registering, inspecting, and placing wastes based on their type in a  receiving unit, where bulky materials are directly sold or disposed of into landfill, while mixed wastes are treated further. Biodegradable materials in mixed wastes are then composted or distributed to a disposal facility. An alternative is placing biodegradable materials where they will be picked up by collection trucks. For recyclable wastes that have been sorted from source, collection starts with weighing and storing them in designated bins (paper, cans, metals). Once a sufficient amount is collected, wastes receive different treatment: tin cans are compacted; plastic bottles are cut, flattened, and bundled; paper materials are piled up; and glasses are crushed. Lastly, residual materials are temporarily stored and then disposed into sanitary landfills or fed into waste-to-energy plants as fuel.

In April 2018, the mayor of Surabaya in Indonesia initiated a pilot programme that lets passengers use plastic waste instead of money to pay for bus tickets.  Passengers can collect ten plastic cups, or five medium-sized plastic water bottles, or three large plastic water bottles for a one-way bus ticket. After enthusiastic response from the locals, the government of Surabaya started planning to add 10–20 buses to its fleet. Unfortunately, the programme still faces the challenge of managing the collected plastic waste. It is reportedly to be delivered to Bank Sampah Induk Surabaya (Surabaya Central Waste Bank) but the lack of local regulation to determine the economic value of plastic waste has inhibited waste delivery to the waste bank.


Asian Development Bank (2004), The Garbage Book: Solid Waste Management in Metro Manila. (accessed 09 January 2020).

Asian Development Bank (2013), Materials Recovery Facility Tool Kit (accessed 09 January 2020).

Bank Sampah Malang (2018), Profil. [Profile]. (accessed 31 December 2019).

BBC Indonesia (2018), Bus Suroboyo: Membayar Tiket Transportasi Memakai Sampah Plastik. [Suroboyo Bus: Paying Transportation Ticket Using Plastic Waste]. (accessed 31 December 2019).

Bilitewski, B. (2018), Best Practice Municipal Waste Management: Information Pool on Approaches Towards A Sustainable Design of Municipal Waste Management and Supporting Technologies and Equipment. (accessed 31 December 2019).

Burhanuddin, S. (2019). ‘Recent Developments on Indonesia Actions for Combating Marine Plastic Debris’. Unpublished work.

Faccio, M., A. Persona,  and G. Zanin (2011). ‘Waste Collection Multi-objective Model with Real Time Traceability Data’, Waste Management31(12), 2391–2405. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2011.07.005.

Kojima, M. (2019), ‘Plastic Recycling: Policies and Good Practices in Asia’. Unpublished work.

Nishimura, H. (2019), Some Good Practices for Multi-Stakeholder Coordination (accessed 31 December 2019).

Pires, A., G. Martinho, S. Rodrigues, M. I. Gomes  (2019), Sustainable Solid Waste Collection and Management. Cham: Springer.

Takahashi, W. (2020), ‘Economic Rationalism or Administrative Rationalism? Curbside Collection Systems in Sweden and Japan’, Journal of Cleaner Production242, 118288. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118288.

The World Bank (2012), What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management. (accessed 31 December 2019).

The World Bank (2019), Trends in Solid Waste Management. (accessed 31 December 2019).