Honduras

Submitted by Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment
Summary of information
Highest priority waste streams
1. Hazardous waste
2. E-waste
3. Industrial waste
Highest priority areas of capacity building
1. Policy and regulatory
2. Social
3. Institutional
Narrative summary
The responses of Honduras (Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment) to the needs assessment survey suggest that above all, the country needs to develop specific policies for different waste streams. Most waste streams are addressed only by general solid waste regulations; specific regulations are only being drafted for very high-priority waste streams, such as hazardous waste. A better contribution of governmental institutions and society in waste management is also needed. National policies need to be developed out of local municipal practices (such as for waste plastics) and international agreements (such as on e-waste). Communities need to provide better support for waste segregation, especially of hazardous materials within household waste.

Hazardous waste
Hazardous waste is ranked as the highest priority for capacity building in Honduras. The areas in which capacity building is needed most are policies, regulations and finance. Although draft regulations on hazardous waste management exist, application and funds for management is limited to those wastes that are addressed through projects in compliance with international agreements. An overall policy on hazardous waste is under development and expected to be approved in 2012. Since internal funds are not available, hazardous waste management in Honduras heavily depends on external funds and is thus not comprehensive. There are seemingly few waste experts with technical expertise in hazardous waste management, while knowledge and awareness within society at large about the risks of these wastes, in particular of everyday exposure to household-generated wastes, is also low. Competent authorities to the international conventions are established, but they lack financial and technical capabilities.

E-waste
As a subcategory of hazardous wastes, e-waste is of particular concern for Honduras. According to the responses provided in the survey, the most pressing need is to enhance technical and scientific understanding on the management of e-waste. There is also a need to broaden awareness of the hazards of e-waste in society. Although e-waste is covered under the Basel Convention, to which Honduras is a Party, the regulations in the international convention have not yet been transposed into national law, while an overall policy does not exist either. Institutional capacity also needs to be built in order to establish responsibilities for e-waste management, and to foster participation and exchange of experience and information in international forums on e-waste, such as the recent efforts that have been undertaken to develop a regional framework for the Latin American region.

Industrial waste
Other special waste streams that require attention and capacity building are industrial waste, healthcare waste, and waste plastics. The needs for capacity-building in industrial waste management mainly centre upon policies/regulations and finance. According to the responses provided, there are no laws regulating the generation and management of industrial wastes apart from a general regulation on integrated solid waste management. Hence, there is a need for specific regulations on industrial waste management. The management of hazardous wastes, e-wastes and industrial wastes is not comprehensive, and relies heavily on external financial resources; capacity-building on the procurement of funds is needed. Regarding human resources, waste management staff are not well-trained in dealing with industrial waste, while appropriate final treatment of industrial waste is also lacking. Instead, the waste stream is handled as household waste under the jurisdiction of municipal governments. Finally, there is a need to sensitize and involve relevant stakeholders in establishing waste management plans for industrial wastes.

Healthcare waste
With regards to waste from healthcare facilities, there is no overarching policy, but regulations for the management of hospital waste exist. Jurisdiction falls under the Secretary of Health and financial resources are allocated from the national budget. However, given that the treatment of healthcare waste requires a high level of knowledge, there are limitations to the abilities of waste management staff in hospitals. Some awareness of the risks of healthcare waste exist, however, as technical expertise in the handling of waste is limited, laws are not enforced comprehensively. Hence, capacity-building is needed for the enforcement of existing regulations, the strengthening of technical knowledge of waste management staff, and social awareness of the risks of healthcare waste.

Waste plastics
Waste plastics fall under general regulations on integrated solid waste management, but no specific regulations on waste plastics exist. Municipalities manage solid waste management including waste plastics, but there is no federal authority giving directions at the national level. Waste plastics management has become a source of employment and income for a lot of families, suggesting a level of informal sector involvement. Waste plastics management is thus also a self-sustaining activity. Participation in recycling of plastics is broad and the mostly family-run businesses have acquired a certain level of knowledge on plastics recycling.

Municipal solid waste (MSW)
There is no overarching policy on solid waste management, although efforts are underway towards its development. MSW currently falls under a regulation on integrated solid waste management. Application is not comprehensive, however, because of a lack of coordination among responsible institutions, insufficient financial resources (particularly for the collection and construction of sanitary landfills), and inadequate social awareness on the benefits of waste segregation. Solid waste management receives some external funding, and assistance is mainly focused on capacity building. It can thus be said that a level of technical knowledge and skilled human resources exist. However, MSW management still needs to be strengthened. In addition to more skilled human resources, the capacity to secure funds for MSW management is needed.

Organic waste and waste agricultural biomass (WAB)
Organic waste and WAB are lower priorities for capacity building in Honduras, but the potential to use these waste streams productively – given that Honduras is an agricultural country – is significant. Regarding WAB, regulations on some activities, in particular its use as an energy resource, exist. However, technical knowledge in this area is limited, and the financial resources to procure technology are not available. In addition, societal awareness on the productive use of WAB is low and could be strengthened.

Regarding organic waste, no specific regulations and policies exist other than the general policies on solid waste management. Although a level of technical knowledge exists on organic waste treatment, organic waste in urban areas is not segregated from other household waste and is mostly sent to disposal sites. Isolated activities on organic waste management are carried out by external donors and non-governmental organizations, but in general, organic waste is not used as a resource. The use of organic waste as a resource is nevertheless seen as a potential for the further development of the country, including the achievement of self-sustainability in managing organic waste.