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Waste Policy Forum
The border region faces significant challenges that threaten its ability to achieve clean, sustainable communities. Waste management programs and services have not kept pace with border communities’ needs and the current waste management structure is not adequate to meet these increasing needs. It is necessary to collaborate at all levels to ensure that limited resources are applied in a way that limits additional threats of land contamination and prevents adding to legacy land contamination in the region. Increasing trade and manufacturing in the border region has resulted in exponential population growth and these industries should be engaged to ensure that they are an active part of the solution. Future regional success will be defined by those who shift from an end-of-life waste management to a sustainable materials management practice.
Achieving future sustainability requires new solutions that can be explored through better tools such as life cycle analysis. Optimizing material design and packaging, making better use of natural resources, and avoiding waste and toxic materials will result in more sustainable products. Improving collection to recover, reuse, and recycle materials will lessen or eliminate end-of-life discards that end up in landfills or indiscriminately dumped. Addressing these issues is more challenging given that they require a coordinated approach across environmental program sectors, at the multi-government level and the private sector. Over the next eight years and through Biennial Action Plans, the U.S. and Mexico will work collaboratively to address the following challenges:
- Lack of adequate planning programs in the U.S. and Mexico that establish strategies to minimize waste, maximize collections systems, support secondary materials markets, and reduce overall disposal in landfills and open dumps;
- Limited knowledge and experience on how to apply a material life cycle approach to existing international policies to implement sustainable materials management programs;
- The increase in amounts of U.S. and Mexican E-waste, used cars, household appliances, tires and green waste predominantly imported into Mexico combined with inadequate infrastructure and services to manage discarded materials;
- Trash, especially plastic materials, eventually reaching shared waters contributing to river or marine debris;
- Lack of conditions favorable to secondary markets for materials, especially when compounded by U.S. sourced used tires, used cars, electronics, and household appliances; and
- Environmental, social and economic impacts of indiscriminate dumping contaminated sites and high remedial cost.
Objective 1: By 2020, increase local and state-level institutional knowledge and experience in the area of sustainable material management practices.
Objective 2: By 2014, identify priority waste streams and by 2020 develop sustainable material management practices that strengthen their respective market value.
Objective 3: By 2020, improve knowledge at every level of government (federal, state, local) to characterize and remediate contaminated sites.
Objective 4: On an annual basis, implement the Binational Consultative Mechanism on sharing information on border area hazardous waste facilities.