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United Nations (UNITAR) Free Online Course on Waste management and circular economy: APPLY NOW!

Apply for United Nations (UNITAR) Free Online Course on Waste management and circular economy


Online Course

Host organization

United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)


Welcome to the Waste management online course! In this session you will be introduced to the challenges of waste and the concept of circular economy.

The online course information is based on the latest reports on waste management and circular economy, as well as relevant country case studies. The methodological part builds on UNITAR’s Guidance Series for designing and implementing national chemicals and waste management systems (Guidelines for national waste management strategies: moving from challenges to opportunities).

The online course also draws heavily on the Basel Convention Guidance Manuals for Govern- ments that provide countries with a suggested methodology for undertaking the design and implementation of a national waste management system.

Event Objectives

After taking the online course, participants  will be able to:

    Understand the importance of sound waste management in relation to SDGs and reduction of poverty;

    Identify tools that can be used on effective planning for waste management;

    Discuss how to promote effective governance of waste among key stakeholders;

    Identify Policy instruments to be used on waste management and waste reduction;

    Discuss how circular economy approaches can be supported through waste management.

    Understand the importance of biowaste management and its contribution to economic growth;

Content and Structure

Module 1 – Waste basics

Learning objectives

    Understand the concept of waste and circular economy

    Describe the elements of a waste management system

    Understand the role of each stakeholder involved in waste management and describe the different tools/instruments to prevent waste


    Introduction to waste and circular economy;

    Sources of waste and municipal waste in low and middle income countries;

    Special waste fractions;

    Institutional  and organizational considerations around waste management;

    Waste prevention and 7Rs principles.

Module 2 – Municipal solid waste collection systems and disposal

Learning objectives

    Identify the waste collection service infrastructure and its functioning

    Understand waste management planning and the importance of waste quantification


    Introduction to collection services and infrastructures;

    Examples of colection service and infrastructure;

    Quantification of total generated MSW;

    Quantification  of collection rate;

    Institutional  and organizational considerations around waste collection;


Module 3 – Policy instruments on waste management

Learning objectives

    Identify and describe the different policy instruments used on waste management and the role of industry and citizens in waste management

    Identify waste management financing mechanisms, including EPR

    Describe policy interventions that can stimulate investment in waste management



    Regulatory instruments and enforcement matters;

    Economic instruments;

    Extended producer responsibility (EPR);

    Communicative  instruments;

    Monitoring and reporting.

Module 4 – Circular economy

Learning objectives

    Define circular economy in relation to waste management

    Understand poverty reduction in relation to the application of the circular economy approach


     The Circular Economy System and definitions;

    Materials Flow;

    Environmental and economic benefits;

    Circular Economy and social benefits – reduction of poverty in the informal sector;

    Sectorial opportunities  – examples;

    Circular Economy case studies;

Module 5 – Biowaste composting

Learning objectives

    Understand the principles of Biowaste and its importance on waste minimization

    Describe the food waste situation and your role in its prevention


    Definition of Biowaste, physicochemical characteristics and examples;

    Sourcing biowaste; the issue of waste segregation and packaging;

    Food waste;

    Composting  as a process;

    Composting  technologies;

    Mixing biowaste types for suitable composting;

    Anaerobic  digestion  (biogas);

    Overview of biowaste treatment technologies;

    Legislative  considerations.


The course, which contains about 6 hours of content, is self-paced and adapted to the schedule of full-time working professionals. We advise short or medium sessions from 10 to 60 minutes per day, depending on the section studied. Participants are provided with the opportunity to learn through various experiences: absorb (read); interact (activity); and reflect (relate to one’s own reality). This includes videos, reading materials and quizzes.

The 5 modules of the course are self-standing and can be completed in any order. However, it is recommended that learners complete the Introductive module first.

All sections conclude with a quiz assessing the knowledge learners will acquire (each quiz requires a score of 70% to pass).

A certificate of completion will be awarded to all participants who have successfully completed all 5 modules of the course.

Additionnally, participants will be requested to provide feedback on the course by filling in a feedback form after completing all the modules, accessible anytime.

Targeted Audience

This e-learning course is intented for local government  officials (e.g. municipal, city or district level) and local technical officers engaged in designing and implementing waste management programmes, assumed to have an education level of secondary/high school and higher.

It can also be accessed by other stakeholders, including for example:

    Government officials who are not already specialists on the subject in question

    NGOs (for themselves and for training others)

    Students and other interested persons with a basic intellectual education



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