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Recycling Around the World A-Z: Laos

Recycling Around the World A-Z: Laos

Recycling Around the World A to Z: Laos

Vientiane is the capital city of Laos. With a steadily increasing population, there is an increasing amount of waste, and a lot of this ends up in landfill, at the capital’s one rubbish dump.

Around 200-250 tonnes of waste ends up in landfill every day in the capital, and this equates to about 0.75kg of waste per person.

Waste disposal issues

The main problems affecting the management of waste in the capital are:

  • There is a lack of awareness on how to dispose of waste properly
  • There is too much waste dumped in landfill
  • There is no separation of waste, and the contamination causes bad odours and insect infestations.
  • The amount of waste is a threat to public health and it spoils the look of the city.


What are the government doing about it?

The government have organised campaigns on radio, television, and in newspapers and magazines to educate residents about the environment.

School children are being taught about the environment in school.

The government’s advice to residents is that they should reduce the waste they produce, reuse it, and recycle it where possible.

When recycling is a danger

Recycling is good, right? Ordinarily, yes. But in a place where there has been war and conflict, some things that people find to recycle should be left alone.

Unexploded weapons including grenades, mortars, and landmines still lie hidden in the countryside of Laos. When poor people, including children, try to earn extra money by looking for scrap metal, they are risking their lives. These weapons cause around 300 casualties every year.

Approximately 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam war, and it is believed that 80 million failed to detonate, and still pose a threat.

Some war scrap is made safe for villagers however, who craft souvenir spoons from the metal and this provides them with an income. Metal and other scrap from bombs is also made into jewellery.

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