A key constraint to collective action and coordination is the NIMBY syndrome (“not in my back yard”)—no community wants the waste disposal site. Disposal is then neglected, or a facility is located without public discussion near the population with the least political clout.
Successes in public decision-making on solid waste disposal facilities (sanitary landfills or incinerators) suggest several lessons:
- Public discussion should be early and open, with site selection based on transparent criteria agreed on in advance by candidate communities.
- Communities adversely affected should be compensated, through financial transfers or access to other desired investments. In Canada and the United States the selected community typically receives “host fees”.
- The project sponsor needs to be credible in meeting commitments to minimize environmental impacts, through proper operation and management. The facility should be monitored by the local community and local authority—and designed to retain functions for informal collectors, so that they can acquire less risky livelihoods.