Kuna Yala Zero Waste Program

Dumpsite located in a mangrove on the mainland of the Carti Islands in Kuna Yala, Panama. Image by Jim Howe.

The Kuna Yala Zero Waste Program was launched in 2013 with the creation of a program design that includes strategies that together achieve the near elimination of solid waste on four tourist islands in Kuna Yala Panama: Suitupu, Tupile, Yantup, and Mulatup. Although the program proposal is designed to move the region towards zero waste, a final disposal site has been included in the overall project for the disposal of inorganic residual waste. The program design was built on local knowledge by incorporating information gathered from interviews and focus groups conducted on the islands in June 2013 by students, MIT anthropologist James Howe, and CoLab’s program lead Libby McDonald. The program design also used an economic analysis, created by Edgar Blanco from MIT’s Engineering System’s Design. The analyis looks at the profit-potential to overcome the challenges of transport costs incurred when delivering recyclable material to Panama City or Colon. Ultimately, the Kuna Yala Waste Management Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide work opportunities through the creation of small waste and recycling associations on each of the four program islands.

View the video in Spanish here


Dayna Cunningham