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The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has been promoting decentralized and Integrated Resource Recovery Centers (IRRCs) in secondary cities and small towns in Asia-Pacific with an objective to recover value from waste and provide livelihood opportunities to the urban poor. The IRRC model uses simple technology, is low cost and aims at financially viability by converting organic waste into compost and valorizing recyclable waste, made possible through the separation of waste at source. This paper discusses the potential for applying the IRRC approach in Asia-Pacific by presenting the key elements of the IRRC in the context of developing countries in the region.

Multiple case study technique has been used to carry out the research, with an objective to discuss experience from practice. The paper draws on the findings of baseline studies conducted in cities of Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Cambodia where IRRCs have been established and lessons learnt during project implementation are presented with an emphasis on partnership arrangements, source separation of waste and financial sustainability.

Evaluating experiences in implementing the IRRC model in several towns and cities across Asia, IRRCs have proven effective in managing waste in a cost effective and environmentally sustainable manner and hold potential for further replication and up scale. Since the projects have to be financially sustainable, there is a need to identify and maximize internal income generation to meet operating expenses. The pivotal role played by sound partnership arrangements by involving and maximizing stakeholder interests is crucial to ensure effective implementation and further contributes to the long term sustainability of the project.

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