The volume of solid waste generated in Mongolia has almost tripled between 2008 and 2019 due to changing urban lifestyles and consumption patterns. Even though more than half of the waste is recyclable, only 7% is reused or exported. Solid waste management in the country is limited by antiquated technology, infrastructure, and equipment, as well as a lack of strategic planning for sustainable waste management. 

To address these challenges, ADB supports local governments in their efforts to introduce effective municipal solid waste management and recycling approaches. With a $2 million grant from Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific (JFPR), the Managing Solid Waste in Secondary Cities project is opening new income generating activity and employment opportunities through waste reuse and recycling pilots.. 

The project is improving the livelihood of waste pickers—who traditionally sort through waste—by enhancing their technical and social skills. Recycling businesses and community organizations received small grants to pilot innovative programs that will reduce waste. The project also supported provincial governments in developing a sector policy framework and building capacity in solid waste management and planning.


Uvurkhangai province
Arvaikheer city

ADB has worked with the Government of Mongolia to introduce innovative and effective solid waste management. 

Sukh-Ulzii Davaanyam, Executive Director, Solid Waste Management Company, Uvurkhangai province

Arvaikheer city generates 39,000 tons of solid waste annually. Normally, the solid waste is barely sorted and is directly taken to a dumpsite. At the Arvaikheer dumpsite, 22-26 waste pickers work constantly. We are aiming to create better jobs for these people, while ensuring gender equality.

The project is improving the livelihood of waste pickers by enhancing their technical and social skills.

Sukh-Ulzii Davaanyam, Executive Director, Solid Waste Management Company, Uvurkhangai province

Our company purchased 8 small trucks, so-called “livelihood white.” As a first step, some former waste pickers are now collecting the sorted recycables with these trucks.  

Batnasan Shiilaa, Staff of Solid Waste Management Company, Uvurkhangai province

Due to lack of professional background, it was hard for me to find a job. I live with my wife and four children. I started to work here as a registrar of truck rounds and a security guard. It’s been over a year now. My wife and I also pick and sort recyclables at this dumpsite to earn extra income to improve our life. I am happy to have a job.    

Ariunjargal Ganbold, Social worker, Uvurkhangai province

We are successfully implementing a "From-Dump-to-Work" program involving a total of 22 waste pickers in Arvaikheer city. One good result can be seen in Odonchimeg's life. She used to pick waste at the dumpsite but now she earns her living by collecting recyclables with her "livelihood white" truck and reselling them.

Pavit Ramachandran, Former ADB Country Director for Mongolia 

The project is looking at all ends of solid waste management spectrum from prevention, reuse, recycling, and disposal. We saw how the project is sorting waste at the source, how it is working at the middle stream of the solid waste management spectrum, looking at plastic molding, paper waste being used as solid fuel, and all of these working with local communities and small businesses. 

The project pilot tested the reuse of tetra packs and textile waste for insulation and maintenance of gers (traditional nomadic housing).