Recycling Center of Buenos Aires

Icons use case study city info


Buenos Aires

Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

Local Government, Public Utility

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2012/03

The Buenos Aires Recycling Centre presents an innovative, holistic solution to waste management developed and administered by the city government.

Every year, Buenos Aires residents are exposed to tens of thousands of tonnes of localised CO2 emissions associated with the collection and treatment of the city’s waste. In 2015, the city government of Buenos Aires, in line with its commitment to reduce the amount of waste buried in landfills and to promote the reutilization and recycling of materials opened the Recycling Center of Buenos Aires. The Center consists of five treatment plants, 2 green centers and an education center. The Education Centre demonstrates the different technologies associated with the recovery of recyclable materials and is the first center for the promotion of recycling and education in Argentina.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Size and population development
Buenos Aires extends across an approximate of 200 square kilometres, in a perimeter of 60 kilometres. The population in the city is 3.06 million people, whereas Greater Buenos Aires is comprised of 14 million. According to The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC), the population density is at par with that of Mexico City, with 15,000 people living per square kilometre, with 75 percent of the households in the city being apartments. Future projections of population growth is low, with the city intending to keep the number of citizens constant between now and 2040.

Population composition
As an important multicultural city, Buenos Aires is very diverse, with 38 percent of its population being born elsewhere, with one third of this international. The women-to-men ratio is 114 to every 100, respectively. The average age for women is 35 whereas for men it is 40, which is to say that Buenos Aires is an aging city. Buenos Aires houses the largest population of Jewish people in Latin America, with an approximate of 250,000 Jewish inhabitants.

Main functions
The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, located on the Western side of the enormous estuary known as Río de la Plata, which separates the Argentina from Uruguay (it is not to be confused with the province of Buenos Aires, to which the city does not belong). The capital is an autonomous district with an ample conurbation that is understood as Greater Buenos Aires. It is the most populated city of Argentina, and a significant multicultural centre in South America. Buenos Aires is both the financial hub and the cultural capital of the country. The cultural attractions of the city are housed in any of the 30 public libraries, 7 theatres, 11 museums, and more than 40 cultural centres. The city excels in the number of active theatrical plays that are presented, having more than 300 plays enacted every weekend.

Main industries / business
The main industries of the city of Buenos Aires are hospitality, medicines and textiles. The production of goods is intended both for local consumption and exports. In 2016 there was over US$316 million worth of exports, with the city contributing 22 percent of the national Gross Geographic Product. The Port of Buenos Aires, one of the busiest in the whole of Latin America, transacted a total of 11 million revenue tons. The finance and real-estate sectors of Buenos Aires are also prominent, as they contribute 31 percent of the city’s economy. As a touristic capital, Buenos Aires welcomes 4.5 million people every year, with an intensive influx other Americans, north and south, particularly Brazilians, Canadians and those from the United States.

Sources for city budget
The budget of the city of Buenos Aires is decided by the National Congress, after the Executive Power concocts the priorities and amounts desirable. Three main sources for the budget can be distinguished: the city government’s tax revenues (78.9 percent), funds from national co-participation (a scheme through which the provinces of Argentina and the city of Buenos Aires share a common pool of national tax revenue), and other local revenues sources (e.g. theatre events, transit violations, concessions, etc.).

Political structure
Politically, the city of Buenos Aires is divided into 15 comunas or communes, which are ruled by the Juntas Comunales made up by seven members belonging to the neighbourhoods of each comuna. The Juntas will propose a governance plan through on behalf of their constituents. In 2011, the city spent 26 percent of its budget on education, followed by health and public services with 22 and 17 percent respectively, whereas the lowest percentage of budget was dedicated to law enforcement. The city of Buenos Aires, houses Argentina’s the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the federal government. However, since the city is an autonomous district, it is governed by a chief of government who is elected by vote in a double round election, with a duration of four years that may be doubled through re-election.

Administrative structure
The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is divided into 48 barrios or neighbourhoods. These fit into a political division of the city’s geography into 15 comunas or communes, which are in charge of such matters as the state of green areas, walkways, the streets and of the lighting. The rest of the administration is left to the city’s government, which handles matters of education, public health transit, and water treatment.

The Recycling Center is a project administered by the Treatment and New Technologies Directorate-General of the Under-secretariat of Urban Hygiene within the Ministry of Environment and Public Space of the Buenos Aires City Government.

The Directorate was created in order to abide to the “Zero Waste Law” (Law n° 1.854/05) in 2012. Since then, its mission has been to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills through the treatment of different fractions generated in the city. 

The Recycling Center is located within the Villa Soldati neighborhood, in the south of the city. It occupies a space of 6.2 hectares where a waste burning facility, built in the late 70s was closed without ever being used and was then replaced by the CEAMSE landfill. The Center now receives more than 6,000 tons of different types of urban solid waste each day.

The construction of the Recycling Center was carried out following the guidelines of law n° 1.854/05, also known as the local “Zero Waste Law”. This law’s purpose is to establish a series of guidelines, principles, obligations and responsibilities for an integral treatment of solid urban waste generated within the City of Buenos Aires in a healthy and environmentally friendly manner. Furthermore, it sets the guidelines for reducing the amount of recyclable material that ends in landfills by separating, recovering and recycling waste at origin.

The Recycling Center includes 5 specialized waste treatment plants:

  • The first plant to be constructed was finished in 2013 and  deals specifically with construction and demolition waste/debris. This plant receives 2.400 tons of arid waste per day, which means roughly 700 trucks full of waste entering the facility each day.
  • The PET plastic bottle treatment plant has the capability to process 16 tons of bottles per day and generates plastic shards that can be used to make new products.
  • The organic waste treatment plant deals with approximately 20 tons of material which is later used as fertilizer and manure.
  • The forestry treatment plant handles between 80 and 100 tons per day of organic forestry related residue that is generated by pruning.
  • The MRF (Material Recovery Facility) handles the treatment of dry waste collected by Urban Recovery Cooperatives. It has an efficiency rate far superior to other recovery facilities around the city. While other facilities process 8 tons of waste per hour, the MRF has the capacity to process up to 10 tons of waste per hour. Besides having a bigger treatment capacity, these machines can recycle paper, cardboard, glass and plastic with a higher quality and with a far superior selection process.

The Center also houses an education center that is visited primarily by schools as well as universities, NGOs, private enterprises and government agencies. Its main purpose is to raise awareness of recycling, recovery reutilization and composting. Visitors walk through all 5 plants via a series of interconnected walkways that have lookout points from where you have a full view of each plant. After the end of each tour students can participate in art workshops related to the things they’ve learned on the tour.

Buenos Aires city Government is the lead agency for the project. The Centre consists of 5 treament plants, 2 Green Centers and 1 Education centre with a total investment of $USD 120 million dollars. All plants have been financed by the city (with the exception of the construction and demolition waste plant that was privately financed).  The city pays a tipping fee to each plant for the amount of waste it processes (or recovers, depending on the plant) and the company that manages each plant derives income due to the selling of the material it produces.

The impact of the Recycling Center is significant as it helps to reduce the transport of waste to landfills, thus lowering the generation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane and overall has reduced the cost of treating waste considerably.

The Recycling Center is located in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. The city government has worked with residents explaining each step of the process in order to avoid any negatives response to the Centre. Preventative measures have been taken such as installing forestry barriers, sprinklers and green doors in order to mitigate any possible adverse environmental effects.

To maintain positive relationships between the city, the Centre and neighborhood residents, visits from neighbors are encouraged so that they can learn how the plants function and what kind of work is being carried out. These visits are crucial to help avoid the “Not in My Backyard” effect.

On the Map

Map placeholder

Want to know more about this project?

Melisa Soledad Wilkinson
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Melisa Soledad Wilkinson

Individual | Operative Manager of New Technologies

Photo gallery

Related case studies

Porto Maravilha Urban Operation
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Porto Maravilha Urban Operation

The project's goal is to establish a new standard of occupation for the waterfront area of Rio de Janeiro

TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit System
Bogotá, Colombia

TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit System

The TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the city of Bogota, Colombia provides residents with efficient and safe mass transit that encourages high ridership.

The Schöneberg Loop
Berlin, Germany

The Schöneberg Loop

Through the so-called “Schöneberg Loop” (Schöneberger Schleife), Berlin is striving to expand the network of different urban spaces located in the area of "Südkreuz". Designed as a green trail, the Schöneberg Loop creates a eco-friendly corridor connecting the south of Berlin with the city centre.