Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


On Taboga Island, a touristic island located just 20km outside of Panama City, solid waste can be found both littered and accumulated in an open-air dump that contributes to air, land, and ocean pollution. While more sustainable waste management systems are possible, as seen in other developing countries, differences in perceptions of waste management by users may result in differences in acceptance of new ideas. In this study, semi-structured interviews were used to gauge the status of waste management on Taboga and the perceptions of waste by its residents and visitors in order to ensure the participation of users in sustainable programs such as recycling. The majority (87.50%) of respondents had optimistic views toward recycling implementation success and 50% had optimistic views toward requiring tourists to carry out their own waste, indicating that certain new ideas may be readily accepted. Emphasizing education, ease of use, and enforcement also may be key to ensure program success. While Taboga has plans to remove the open-air dump and implement a recycling system, lawmakers should bear in mind the perceptions of all users and should ensure that the program is cost-effective and environmentally efficient before implementation. Future studies may test for user acceptance of the specific waste management systems that are being considered for the island and how they may be administered for maximum public participation.


Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Growth and Development | Infrastructure | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Public Administration | Tourism


Article Location