Lao PDR

Submitted by Ministry of Natural Resources Environment
Summary of information
Highest priority waste streams
1. Municipal solid waste
2. Industrial waste
3. Hazardous waste
Highest priority areas of capacity building
1. Policy and regulatory
2. Technical and scientific
3. Institutional
Narrative summary
Lao PDR (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment)’s responses to the needs assessment survey suggest that the country needs to develop its waste management policies and regulations. In particular, there is a lack of policies and regulations governing specific sector-related waste streams, such as hazardous waste, WAB, and e-waste. Although there are general waste management policies, the responses show that difficulties exist in implementing them. The institutions responsible for MSW and industrial waste, in particular, should coordinate and promote public awareness as a priority activity. Finally, the responses also suggest a need to significantly improve the country’s technical capacity for waste management, in terms of equipment and training of personnel.

Municipal solid waste (MSW)
MSW is ranked as the waste stream with the most pressing need for capacity-building in Lao PDR. Within the waste stream, institutional capacity-building is required above all. According to the responses, transparency of information (within bureaucracies or to the public) and coordination of activities among MSW management institutions is absent. MSW management should instead be delegated clearly and tackled collectively. The country also lacks sufficient (well-maintained) equipment for MSW management, as well as clear MSW management regulations or requirements (although there are overarching waste management policies). Financial concerns are also seen as important, as the country wishes to procure new waste collection equipment. Community involvement in waste segregation can also be improved.

Industrial waste
Industrial waste management is ranked as highly important for capacity-building in Lao PDR. Again, the responsible institutions do not share information and work collectively in tackling the problem, while specific regulations regarding industrial waste are absent. Consequently, suboptimal disposal sites for industrial waste are chosen, creating an environmental and/or public health hazard. Economic instruments could significantly improve industrial waste management in the country. The responses mention certain activities that require better funding, including to monitor waste disposal activities, and to procure waste collection equipment.

Hazardous waste
Hazardous waste management is also ranked as a high priority area in Lao PDR. National legislation specifically addressing hazardous and chemical waste does not exist, and is therefore a priority for development. Although Lao PDR is a signatory of international agreements such as the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, the country lacks adequate capacity to discover, monitor and address breaches due to the failure of institutions to coordinate activities or share information. In particular, the responses note that some information concerning the chemical composition of products is confidential to the private sector, and not accessible by governmental institutions. Confidentiality renders waste management tasks such as characterization very difficult. The capacities of hazardous waste management institutions in Lao PDR thus need to be strengthened. The development of a set of technical guidelines, as well as financial assistance from abroad, would also be useful for hazardous waste management.

Waste plastics
The management of waste plastics is also a significant area for development.  Although the methods of disposal of waste plastics are regulated by law in the country, the enforcement of these laws could be improved. Responsible institutions need to be strengthened, in particular in their ability to procure technical and financial assistance from abroad. Aside from waste disposal, waste prevention strategies have also not been comprehensively explored. Public awareness-raising campaigns, especially on the subjects of waste segregation and the 3R principle, could be implemented.

Healthcare waste
There are currently general policies, but not specific and well-enforced regulations, on healthcare waste management in Lao PDR. Technical understanding and available equipment for the waste stream is also poor. Consequently, waste generators and responsible institutions sometimes select inappropriate hazardous waste disposal sites, posing a risk to the environment or public health. Responsible institutions need to be better coordinated; again the transparency of information emerges as an issue. Funds and technical guidelines should also be made available to the country and waste generators if management is to be more effective.

Organic waste and waste agricultural biomass (WAB)
No policies exist in Lao PDR with regards to organic waste and WAB. Given its large agricultural output, the country would benefit primarily from the development of policies regarding these waste streams, and an improvement in technical understanding on areas such as the use of WAB as energy. The development of effective policies on organic waste and WAB will also naturally depend on a degree of capacity-building in other areas. The coordination between, for example, agriculture and environmental institutions, will require improvement. Funds will need to be raised, while new policies should be promoted through educational campaigns directed towards waste generators.

E-waste
E-waste management is not ranked highly as an area of capacity-building to Lao PDR. The lack of demand for e-waste management can be shown above all by the lack of legislation regulating e-waste disposal. Institutions often cannot monitor e-waste, and do not have access to confidential information regarding the composition of some electronic products. The various stakeholders in the country thus require training, education and awareness-raising on the potential hazards of mismanaged e-waste. Responsible institutions need to gain increased access to information and funding to prevent e-waste from becoming a major concern to Lao PDR.