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Market Plans

Venezuela Environmental Export Market Plan
Chapter 5
Solid Waste

Market Overview

The lack of adequate waste disposal and recycling facilities results in poor sanitary conditions and
environmental degradation. Each citizen generates an average of 0.5 kilos of garbage per day.

Figure 5: Composition of Solid Waste in Venezuela - 1995 (%)


Venezuela generates approximately 4.4 million tons of solid waste annually, one third of which is generated in Caracas. This category is comprised of paper, metal, glass, food, vegetation, and other solid debris. Figure 5 breaks down Venezuela's solid waste according to these subcategories. Figure 6 shows the estimated percentage of paper, aluminum, plastic, and glass recycled.

Figure 6: Percentage of Recycling by Category - 1995 (%)

Investment in the solid waste sector in 1998 is estimated to be $105 million. It is expected to increase by approximately 10 to 15 percent annually for the next three years. U.S. suppliers dominate the market in this sector and are expected to export $52 million worth of equipment during 1998.

The collection phase is the most expensive portion of municipal solid waste. In Caracas, solid waste is collected every other day. This routine uses existing equipment more efficiently. It allows the same vehicles to service more than one area.


Solid waste collection and disposal is the responsibility of the municipalities, which contract a sanitation company or agency for operations. Although most garbage is dumped in backyards and ravines, the majority of that collected is dumped in open-air landfills. These attract scavengers and contribute to polluting local water sources. Waste generally is not compacted, as this type of machinery is expensive for the municipalities and not widely available. There are 13 landfills in Venezuela, of which only two are lined. Table 4 shows the unlined landfills with total and occupied areas.

In most municipalities, solid waste tariff revenues cover less than 20 percent of operating costs. Local governments have often sought the cheapest alternative despite negative impacts on health and the environment. More sophisticated waste disposal techniques are not widely used or being considered because they are too costly.

Table 4: Controlled Landfills – Total and Occupied Area

Name Location Total Area
Occupied Area (hectares)
La BonanzaCharallave 17070
El LimoncitoLos Teques 101
Santa EduvigisLa Guaira 2012
La CiénagaMaracaibo 11320
La GuásimaValencia 85
El PeñonCumaná9060
ManzanilloCarúpano 1810
Cerro è PiedraBarcelona 8030
El PiachePorlamar 207
Total 439 154.5
% Occupied 35.19%
Source: Balance Ambiental de Venezuela 1994-95.


Opportunities for U.S. companies that supply solid waste handling and disposal services and equipment will find a gradually expanding market in Venezuela. Initial demand will come from municipalities whose landfills are at overcapacity and where public pressure (not regulations) is pushing for improved collection and disposal systems. In the short term, it does not appear that the federal government will be a major catalyst in pushing improvements in the solid waste sector.

Recycling equipment and services, especially for industrial customers, has a more promising short-term
future. Thirty recycling companies currently exist in Venezuela. Solid waste recycling is becoming increasingly important in the country. Private companies have taken roles to lead recycling efforts, as these firms focus on items that can add to their revenue stream, such as aluminum, glass, paper, and cardboard. The four most significant paper converters in the country are Smurfit Fibras Industriales, Transpaca, Recupal, and Molana.

Since aluminum is a renewable resource, many Venezuelan firms have taken advantage of lower
prices and purchased recycled aluminum. Polar Brewing Company, the major beer producer in the

country, has its own recycling company, Reciclajes Envalic.

Recycling of plastics is a largely untapped area. As of the most recent data available, only 1 percent
of plastic is recycled in Venezuela. As the economy recovers and awareness grows, plastic recycling is expected to grow in importance.

Major equipment needs for the solid waste sector include balers, can compactors, crushing machinery,
magnetic separators, scales, sorters, grinding machines, mixers, trash collection trucks, composting equipment, and industrial shredders.

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