Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Molinos-Senante M., Maziotis A., Sala-Garrido R., Mocholi-Arce M. (2022)

How much does it cost to collect recyclable and residual waste in medium-income countries? A case study in the Chilean waste sector

Revista : Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association
Volumen : 72
Número : 10
Páginas : 1083-1094
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Improper municipal solid waste (MSW) management leads to contamination of water, soil and air with negative impacts on human health. Moreover, not dealing with residual waste has huge implications for meeting circular economy targets. Understanding how much it costs could lead to a better quality of service and boost environmental sustainability. This study estimates an input distance function using econometric techniques to measure the technical efficiency of the MSW sector in Chile. This approach further allows us to estimate the shadow price of residual waste in terms of total costs. The results indicated that the average technical efficiency of the waste sector was 0.592. This means that the potential savings in costs and residual waste among municipalities could be at the level of 40.8%. Large divergences among municipalities were found since efficiency scores ranged between 0.029 and 0.863. It is found that for 53% of the municipalities evaluated, efficiency scores varied between 0.61 and 0.80. On average, the cost of reducing residual waste was 81.10 US $ per kilogram. This means that on average the cost of preventing one more kilogram of residual waste not being collected and recycled was 81.10 US $. It was also found that on average as population density increased, the shadow price of residual waste increased as well.Implications: The study provides a methodology that allows the policy makers to estimate the efficiency of the solid waste sector where limited available statistical data usually exists in developing and medium-income countries. They have the opportunity to understand what drives costs and identify the best and worst performers. This information is essential to develop local initiatives to enhance waste recycling and therefore, achieving the targets established at national level. Managers can also see if there are other operating factors that could influence performance such as population density. The proposed methodology allows integrating other exogenous variables that might be interesting to policy makers. For instance, a tourism index could be included in the assessment to evaluate whether tourism impacts on the efficiency of municipalities in the provision of municipal solid waste services and therefore, to analyze the implementation of an eco-tax for tourists.