Sustainable Financing

in Waste Management

Sustainable financing refers to the mobilisation and allocation of financial resources in a way that promotes a circular economy through environmentally and socially responsible initiatives. A triple bottom-line approach that includes economic, social, and environmental outcomes is needed to ensure long-term sustainability.

The Problem

Waste management encompasses various stages, including collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal, each of which requires substantial financial resources.

Insufficient funding often leads to inadequate infrastructure and services, hindering waste collection and recycling efforts.

Municipalities and governments may struggle to allocate enough funds to support comprehensive waste management systems, resulting in improper waste disposal practices like open dumping or uncontrolled incineration, which have severe environmental and health consequences.

Moreover, recycling and waste treatment technologies demand continuous investments, making it challenging for some regions to adopt or upgrade their waste management facilities.

Potential Solutions

Sustainable financing mechanisms can generate funds for waste management infrastructure, recycling facilities, awareness campaigns, research and development, and other initiatives that address plastic waste leakage.


Addressing the financing issue requires a multi-faceted approach, involving public-private partnerships, government incentives, and innovative funding mechanisms to ensure the sustainable management of waste and safeguard the environment for future generations.


In particular, by allocating funds to upstream waste management and moving beyond investments for end-of-life treatment of waste, sustainable financing mechanisms can help accelerate the transition to a more circular and sustainable economy. Sustainable and innovative financing instruments can be designed to incentivise waste producers to divert waste from landfills toward recycling. Examples include both rewards (recycling incentives) and charges (pay-as-you-throw and deposit refund schemes).

Case Studies

Single-use Plastic Levy
Plastic Credit Systems
Packaging Material Fees
Landfill Tax
Extended Producer Responsibility
Excess Materials Exchange
Circulate Capital
Bankable Nature Solutions
Advance Disposal Fee
Blended Financing

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More Resources


  1. United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (2022): Diving Deep: Finance, Ocean Pollution and Coastal Resilience: Launched at The Economist World Ocean Summit, the guidance focuses on the problem of solid waste pollution—including plastics—and coastal infrastructure projects. It provides easy-to-follow recommendations on where to challenge companies to adopt clear sustainable practices, to avoid financial transactions with companies that have no sustainable transition plan in place and to seek out opportunities in ocean-related sectors where there is evidence of sustainable practice, for example designing product for reuse, repair, and recycling at end of life. 

  2. Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

  3. The Plastic Circularity Investment Tracker: Monitoring Capital Flow to Tackle the Plastic Pollution Challenge

  4. Sustainable financing and policy models for municipal composting
    Organic waste management can deliver big benefits to cities at a relatively low cost, but rates of composting is low in most cities. This report looks at the ways that cities can use composting to reduce municipal organic waste and provides good practice examples. The report is aimed at Global South cities but draws on experience from across the globe.

Analysing six case studies in Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bangalore, Sri Lanka and Europe, the report outlines the strategies, financing mechanisms and policies that can create the right environment for a successful municipal composting project.