City Waste Rating programs encourage healthy competition among cities and citizens within a region in a race to be distinguished as the cleanest city. 

TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: In India, Swachh Survekshan is a protocol that was devised where each ward in every city must achieve a certain standard across 24 different components of solid waste management and is graded based on overall marks received.




    The world’s cities produce every year about 11 billion tonnes of solid waste. Managing waste properly is essential for building sustainable and liveable cities, but it remains a challenge for many cities.

    Solid waste management is one of the basic services provided by local government units to the public, with significant impacts on public health and the environment when collection and processing capabilities are lacking. Thus, there is an urgent need to build the institutional and technical capabilities of local governments to address this need.



    Swachh Survekshan is an extensive survey in India that ranks cities on the performance of municipal solid waste management and other parameters. In 2019, 6.4 million citizens participated in the survey across more than 4,000 cities. By encouraging healthy competition among cities in the race towards becoming India’s cleanest city, rankings have played a key role in mobilizing local political leadership.

    Another noteworthy step is the development of a rating system based on service-level progress, direct observations (independent audits) and citizens’ feedback for cities. The system acts as a single metric to enable a holistic evaluation of the entire SWM value chain. Supported by a robust verification mechanism to ensure transparency and standardization, the protocols have been designed to enable cities to gradually evolve into a model, 7-star city. 

    The star rating protocol was launched by the central government to institutionalize a mechanism for cities to achieve garbage free status leading to a higher degrees of cleanliness. The protocol includes components such as cleanliness of drains & water bodies, plastic waste management, managing construction & demolition waste which are critical drivers for achieving garbage free cities. While the key thrust of the protocol is on solid waste management, it also takes care of ensuring certain minimum standards of sanitation through a set of prerequisites defined in the framework.



    The Changemaker Cities initiative organized by UN-Habitat’s Waste Wise Cities program, serves as a public awareness tool and support network for cities embracing waste management change, in similar manner to city rating and competition schemes.



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    In May 2020, the central government in India announced the results of the most recent Swachh Survekshan survey:

    1. A total of 141 cities were rated — six of them 5-star, 65 of three-star, 70 one-star.
    2. 5-star ratings were given to Ambikapur, Surat, Rajkot, Mysuru, Indore and Navi Mumbai.
    3. Karnal, New Delhi, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Chandigarh, Bhilai Nagar, Ahmedabad are among three-star garbage free rating while Delhi Cantonment, Vadodara, Rohtak are among one-star garbage free cities.

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