Indicator Name, Target and Goal

Indicator 11.6.1: Proportion of municipal solid waste collected and managed in controlled facilities out of total municipal waste generated, by cities

Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Definition and Rationale


This indicator is defined as the proportion of municipal solid waste collected and managed in controlled facilities out of total municipal solid waste generated, by cities. 


Solid Waste is the garbage or refuse generated by households, offices, industries and commercial activities within an urban area. 

Municipal Solid Waste is wastes generated by households, and wastes of a similar nature generated by commercial and industrial premises, by institutions such as schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons, and from public spaces such as streets, markets, slaughter houses, public toilets, bus stops, parks, and gardens. The definition of MSW should follow the local definitions so it is important to annotate the local and national definition(s) of MSW. However, MSW should exclude the mineral waste.  

Total Municipal Solid Waste Generated by the City is the sum of collected municipal solid waste and uncollected municipal solid waste 

Municipal Solid Waste Collected refers to waste that is regularly collected from specific addresses or designated collection points. Collection frequency will depend on local conditions and on any pre-separation of the waste. For example, both mixed waste and organic waste are often collected daily in tropical climates for public health reasons, and generally at least weekly; source separated dry recyclables may be collected less frequently. 

Uncollected Municipal Solid Waste refers to waste generated in a city but uncollected due to the lack of collection services. 

Municipal Solid Waste Managed in Controlled Facilities refers to waste being accepted in a facility that has reached at least an intermediate level of control out of collected municipal solid waste. The level of control for a particular facility can be assessed using qualitative criteria including 1) degree of control over waste reception and general site management; 2) degree of control over waste treatment and disposal and 3) degree of monitoring and verification of environmental control. A score of at least 10 on each criterion is the threshold required to be considered as ‘controlled’. 

International data collection efforts (e.g., UNSD/ United Nations Environment Programme Questionnaire on Environment Statistics-Waste Section) exclude waste from municipal sewage network and treatment, municipal construction and demolition waste from the definition of Municipal Solid Waste.  Possible data collected for this SDG indicator , if allowed for disaggregation by these categories can enable reporting for both the SDG and for other international reporting (e.g., UNSD/ United Nations Environment Programme Questionnaire). 

Comments and Limitations:

Collection of data for the indicator will require training and capacity development for monitoring at both national and local level. The precision of data on total municipal solid waste generation is  disputable. In general, developed countries have solid waste data collection systems but most of the middle and low-income countries do not have data. In these countries and cities, household survey and other complimentary surveys can be conducted for the estimation of municipal waste generation per capita. However, one of the key challenges of data precision in the middle to low income countries is the lack of accurate population data in their jurisdiction, particularly regarding slums, where usually no waste collection service is taking place. The judgement on the level of control of waste management facilities, including composting, recycling, incineration facilities in a city, requires high level of technical capacity and large investment in human resources. 

Rationale and Interpretation:

A sustainable city must collect and appropriately manage all its solid waste in order to improve the standards of living and cleanliness. Integrated solid waste management (ISWM) strategies are also necessary for environmental sustainability and effective resource management.

Data Sources and Collection Method

Municipal Solid Waste Generation Per Capita

For countries and cities that have the data already, data can be collected through municipal record. For countries and cities that do not have the data, a household survey to identify daily waste generation should be done, at least two times a year in different seasons. In the household survey, liner bags will be distributed to each household to be surveyed and ask head of household to put 7 days of waste generated. Then the liner bags are collected and its weight is measured. Household to be surveyed should be picked up according to the income levels. Municipal waste from other sources such as market, restaurants, hotels, schools and so on also should be measured.

Population in the City

Population census

Municipal Solid Waste Managed in a Controlled Facility

Survey on the qualitative judgement of waste treatment and facility as well as daily amount of waste received by the facilities is required. The sheet below can be utilised.

Survey Sheet Example for Recycling and Treatment Facilities

Treatment facility name

Degree of control score

Process employed

Type of waste

Amount of solid waste received

Amount of sewage sludge

Amount of residue

Where residue is exported













Survey Sheet Example for Disposal Facilities

Landfill sites name

Landfill type

Operation start year

Degree of control score

Amount of MSW received

Amount of sewage sludge received











Globally, data are already being collected for the related statistics contained in the UNSD/United Nations Environment Programme Questionnaire, and methodological guidance for the statistics is being developed in the methodology sheet on waste statistics of the Manual on the Basic Set of Environment Statistics (

Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations

Computation Method:

The indicator is calculated as follows:

Total municipal solid waste generated by the city can be estimated by multiplication of the municipal solid waste generation per capita and population of the city. When the municipal solid waste generation per capita is not available, household survey for a daily waste generation in household and other premises (e.g. restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, etc) should be conducted. Since the waste generation can differ according to the seasons, the survey should be conducted at least two times a year to estimate the municipal solid waste generation per capita.

Municipal solid waste managed in controlled facility is estimated through qualitative judgement of the degree of environmental control of facilities where the city’s municipal waste is collected and transported. The judgement of environmental control can be conducted in line with the criteria below. Another important thing is to deduct residue amount from treatment facilities to avoid double count.

(1) Degree of control over waste reception and handling at each site. This criterion should be applied to all treatment and disposal sites, whatever the specific process being used.

Factors affecting the assessment include:

  • Vehicular access to the site (high level of control: hard surfaced access roads of adequate width and load-bearing capacity, kept clean and free of mud)
  •  Traffic management (high level of control: any queues for site access kept short in time and contained within the site; little impact of traffic on neighbours).
  • Site security (high level of control: site fenced; no unauthorised site access; gates locked when site closed).
  • Waste reception and record keeping (high level of control: reception office; staffed during all opening hours; all vehicles logged and loads checked; weighbridge installed and all weights logged). Note that the procedures for monitoring the records thus collected are assessed under (3).
  • Waste unloading (high level of control: waste directed to a designated area; unloading supervised by site staff).
  • Control over nuisance (high level of control: successful control of windblown litter, flies, vermin, birds and of ‘mud’ leaving the site on vehicle tyres)
  • Control of fires (high level of control: no routine burning of wastes; no ‘wild’ fires; active fire prevention and emergency response systems in place in case of accidental fire)

a. No control                                    

b. Low level of control

c. Medium level of control

d. Medium/High level of control

e. High level of control

0 is scored





(2) Degree of control over both the waste treatment and disposal process in use at each site and over any potential emissions.

This criterion covers both the presence of the necessary technologies, and the operating procedures for their proper use.

The nature of controls required will depend on both the process employed and on the potential emissions. As an example, the table below provides guidance on how the general principles can be applied to land disposal and thermal treatment (using the specific example of mass-burn incineration).

For biological treatment, the detail will vary with the type of process (e.g. windrow composting, in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion). However, in all cases a ‘high level’ of control would imply a high degree of control over: the incoming waste (to avoid hazardous waste or contrary materials); processing temperature to ensure pathogen destruction; retention time in the process; mixing in the process (including turning of windrows); atmospheric emissions including odours and bio aerosols; and leachate collection and treatment.

Similar principles can be applied to other facilities, including mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) plants, advanced thermal treatment and new technologies for valorisation of organic waste in developing countries. In each case, the user may use the following scoring tables as a ‘best judgment’ guideline for scoring.

Where a fuel is being made from waste to be burnt elsewhere, then the assessment should include the process and emission controls at the user facilities.

(3) Degree of monitoring and verification of environmental controls (Includes the existence and regular implementation of: robust environmental permitting/ licensing procedures; regular record keeping, monitoring and verification carried out by the facility itself; AND monitoring, inspection and verification by an independent regulatory body)

The environmental monitoring programme and process control record keeping required will be specific to the type of facility.

  • All sites must comply with the federal/national/local environmental legislation, have conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) where necessary, have obtained the most recent permit/license and kept it up-to-date.
  • Permitting processes should be supportive of initiatives that improve environmental performance of the system. A lower score should be assigned if permitting processes for improved facilities have been unduly long and complex, while existing facilities  continued to operate with much lower levels of (or no) environmental control.
  • For all sites it should include incoming waste volumes, weights and categories; at least occasional monitoring of waste composition and relevant properties; control of ‘nuisance’ (including windblown litter, flies, vermin, birds and ‘mud’ leaving the site on vehicle tyres); and control of odour, site fires, and emission of potential greenhouse gases (particularly methane and nitrous oxides, as well as carbon dioxide).
  • For all land disposal: ground and surface water.
  • For engineered and sanitary landfills: leachate and landfill gas management.
  • For thermal treatment: moisture content and calorific value of incoming wastes; temperature, residence time, emissions to air (including those of nitrogen oxides (NO), sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), heavy metals and dioxins), effluent treatment and disposal, and the quantities and management methods of both fly ash and bottom ash.
  • For biological treatment: input waste controls (to protect both the process and the product quality); process control (temperature, residence time, mixing); product quality control; emissions controls; and greenhouse gas controls (particularly methane and nitrous oxides).

a. No compliance
b. Low compliance
c. Medium Compliance
d. Medium/High compliance
e. High compliance

0 is scored

Level of Control


Land disposal

Thermal treatment




Uncontrolled dumping – no controls

Uncontrolled burning lacking most ‘control’ functions


Low (Semi-controlled facility)


Site staffed; waste placed in designated area; some site equipment

Site staffed; some containment and management of combustion process; basic operating procedures to control nuisance


Medium (Controlled facility)


Waste compacted using site equipment; waste covered (at least irregularly)

Emission controls to capture particulates; trained staff follow set operating procedures; equipment properly maintained; ash properly managed


Medium/high (Engineered facility)


Engineered landfill site: use daily cover material; some level of leachate containment and treatment; collection of landfill gas

High levels of engineering and process control over residence time, turbulence and temperature; emission controls to capture acid gases and capture dioxins; active management of flyash.


High (State-of-the-art facility)


Fully functional sanitary landfill site: properly sited and designed; leachate containment (naturally consolidated clay on the site or constructed liner); leachate & gas collection; gas flaring and/or utilization; final cover; post closure plan

Built to and operating in compliance with international best practice including eg. EU or other similarly stringent stack and GHG emission criteria Flyash managed as a hazardous waste using best appropriate technology.

Data Disaggregation

Data for this indicator can be disaggregated at the city and town levels.

- Disaggregation by population (waste generation per capita)

- Disaggregation by type of facility

- Disaggregation by material type, i.e., by municipal sewage network and treatment, municipal construction and demolition waste and any other


Official SDG Metadata URL  

Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL

Other references
UN-Habitat (2010). Solid Waste management in the World Cities Water and Sanitation in the World’s Cities, Earthscan, London, ISBN 978-1-84971-169-2  

UN Environment (2015) Global Waste Management Outlook, ISBN: 978-92-807-3479-9

United Nations Statistics Division/United Nations Environment Programme United Nations Statistics Division/United Nations Environment Programme Questionnaire on Environment Statistics,  

United Nations Statistics Division, UNSD Environmen­tal Indicators,

International Solid Waste Management Association (2015) Roadmap to Closing Waste Dumpsites The World’s Most Polluted Places,  Accessed on 26 November, 2016 

Wilson et al - Wasteaware ISWM indicators - doi10.1016j.wasman.2014.10.006 - January 2015


International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring

This document was prepared based on inputs from UN-Habitat and United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD). 

For focal point information for this indicator, please visit

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