Guidelines for Packaging Waste Management in Humanitarian Operations

The partner survey conducted by the Joint Initiative for Sustainable Humanitarian Assistance Packaging Waste Management (JI) in April 2022 revealed that in many humanitarian contexts, management of waste from humanitarian assistance is left to local authorities and communities to handle and—in the absence of waste-management systems—ends up being buried or burnt openly. This creates local pollution and environmental degradation and poses a risk to human and animal health. The open burning of waste (in particular plastic) contributes significantly to climate change and releases toxic gases. The JI Packaging Baseline Assessment report showed that 32% of packaging materials used to deliver food and non-food items are made of plastic. To ensure sustainable management of the waste generated by humanitarian organizations, enhanced cooperation and information-sharing are necessary. The JI responds to this by providing guidance on sustainable packaging waste management. Not only will sustainable waste management lead to positive impacts on the environment and human health, but using a circular economy approach to waste management can also strengthen livelihoods.

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