REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- One of the most enduring symbols of the struggles that came with galloping population growth in Mexico City has been its trash dumps, where people live and work among the millions of tons of waste that the metropolitan area's 20 million residents produce every day.
On Monday, Mexico City authorities announced the closing of the city's -- and purportedly one of the world's -- largest landfills, the Bordo Poniente on the flat eastern outskirts of Mexico City. Resting place for 72 million tons of waste since it was created after the devastating 1985 earthquake, the site will be converted into a recycling and composting center, announced Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.
Ebrard's government called the closure a historic milestone in the city's unlikely bid to be known as one of the world's "greenest" big cities. Decades ago, it was infamous as the world's most polluted.
By next week, the hundreds of trucks that used to come to dump garbage at the Bordo Poniente will no longer be allowed onto the site, which once received more than 12,000 tons of waste a day. By Dec. 31, the government said, the site will have an entirely new role.
The city invested heavily in plans to recycle the bio-gases produced by the waste into renewable energy. Jobs are promised to those who live among the trash and had earlier threatened to protest the closure (link in Spanish).
The program is expected to contribute to the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions produced by Mexico City, which has already cut its waste in half, officials said, through recycling and composting efforts across the metropolis.
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: A boy drinks a soda among garbage at the Bordo Poniente landfill on the outskirts of Mexico City on Monday. Credit: Christian Palma / Associated Press