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[greenyes] Re: [GreenYes] Garbage in 3rd World
Dear All,

There's an organization named WASTE, NL in the Netherlands 
( that provides funding for a variety of environmental, recycling, and 
similar grassroots efforts, mainly in Africa and Asia.  These projects are 
generally done by graduate students native to the host countries as internships or 
fellowships toward advanced degrees.  Project reports--many in English--are 
written up & posted at the WASTE site.

Eric asked if anyone is tackling solid waste, recycling, & litter in 3rd 
World countries.  A year ago, I read a number of the project reports at the WASTE 
site, & can say that this is one place where you can get a taste of the 
efforts being made.

I regret to say that the reports were pretty discouraging.  In fact, it was a 
real eye-opener for me to be reminded that:  (1) these countries are 
incredibly poor (e.g., the ones where you hear that people live on <$2 per day); (2) 
governments often take no responsibility for solid waste, especially in poor 
areas; (3) cultural and religious differences frequently prevent cooperation 
among communities; and (4) despite the internet, the students attempting projects 
in these countries are woefully uninformed about proven recycling, solid 
waste, and litter approaches from the West.  

However, I hasten to add that the resources are simply not available in these 
countries to replicate the kinds of comprehensive programs we in the US are 
accustomed to.  Sad to say, some of the reports I read showed that the big boy 
solid waste firms have taken advantage of this situation, and transplanted 
packer trucks, landfills, incinerators, and the like where these technologies are 
totally inappropriate.  And, these services, too, are provided only for rich 

My main point is that we should endeavor to avoid judging what's done in the 
3rd World by our standards.  Of course it would be wonderful if developing 
countries could have state of the art recycling.  But we should remember that 
globalization is squeezing their economies terribly, while in many cases making 
these countries dumping grounds for all the environmental problems being 
exported by Western-based multi-national corporations.

Which puts me in mind of an interesting thing I saw on the Jan 9, 04 PBS show 
"NOW with Bill Moyers."  The Alien Tort Claims Act adopted in 1789 by the US 
Judiciary may provide a way that parties (or countries) can seek redress from 
injuries caused them by multi-nationals (e.g., human rights or environmental 
abuses).  This is a bit of a tangent, i.e., I'm not necessarily saying this 
could bring recycling to desperate 3rd World countries.  But, it may offer an 
antidote to the steamroller effect of globalization.  Check out the report at the 
NOW website:

My 2¢ worth...

Gretchen Brewer
Earth Circle
San Diego, CA

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