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Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Arizona's Official Website
Office of Border Environmental Protection: Waste

Arizona Border Trash

The environmental impact caused by illegal immigration, and the trash left behind, is increasingly being found in areas that are more fragile and remote. It has been estimated that more than 2,000 tons of trash are discarded annually in Arizona's borderlands. A variety of federal and state government entities, Native American tribes and private landowners are affected by the problem, and addressing it requires extensive coordination.

Successful cleanups of border trash sites have been taking place by government and private landowners, as well as volunteer groups for several years. There was, however, no consistent method for conducting cleanups or for collecting data. In collaboration with other partnering agencies, ADEQ developed the Arizona Border Trash web site to provide a centralized location where stakeholders conducting these types of cleanups can find assessment and cleanup resources, and where data from cleanups can be tracked consistently.

Supporting Waste Management in the Border Region

Waste related activities carried out by OBEP staff in the border region are in support of the ADEQ Waste Programs Division. Examples include providing technical assistance for voluntary pollution prevention activities, promoting the reduction of waste tires, and promoting the recycling of electronic wastes in Arizona border communities.

More information about solid waste management under Waste Programs Division of the ADEQ web site.

Waste Tire Collection Sites

OBEP has been assisting with the agency’s effort to update its waste tire collection sites inventory for the Arizona border region. The objective is to increase the number of waste tire collection sites registered with ADEQ that are required to do so by regulations. During site visits, staff provides brochures that explain the regulatory aspects of outdoor storage of used tires and provides information about location and proper use of fire extinguishers, as well as emergency access and egress routes. Many of these tire shops have recently established best management practices to reduce the number of tires stored outdoors, based on permissible methods of waste tire disposal.

There is a myriad of information sources on the topic of waste tires. The following links provide access to some of those sources:

Re-Use of Trash and Recycling Bins

OBEP serves as a liaison between Tucson Clean & Beautiful, the City of Tucson, and border communities for the donation of surplus and end-of-service trash and recycling bins. Since 2005, this effort has resulted in the donation of more than 6,000 of these bins. For additional information on this effort, please visit:

Tools to Help Arizona Border Communities Reclaim Resources

Illegal dumping of electronics has led to a state-wide effort to collect e-waste by encouraging Arizona communities to recycle responsibly. OBEP assists this effort by the department with developing binational partnership alliances, establishing contact with key stakeholders, and identifying recyclers that may be interested in learning more about e-waste recycling certification programs.

According to EPA, toxic chemicals in electronics products can leach into the land over time or are released in the atmosphere, impacting nearby communities and the environment. ADEQ’s Tools to Help Arizona Border Communities Reclaim Resources Project will create a toolkit to simplify the resources and actions needed to run e-waste events. The toolkit will be accessible on the agency’s website and include a list of contacts, marketing materials, an interactive area to share ideas, educational resources, and best practices to facilitate the process and allow communities to implement e-waste events. Educational materials will accompany the toolkit, in order to raise citizen awareness about the risks posed by e-waste, where it ends up, and the options available to properly manage the e-waste.

More information about recycling can be found at the following links:

Past Accomplishments

Arizona-Mexico International Green Organization (AMIGO)

The Arizona-Mexico International Green Organization (AMIGO), a binational partnership for pollution prevention, was sponsored by ADEQ for almost 10 years. The program created partnerships leading to voluntary pollution prevention activities among industries located in the Arizona-Sonora border region. It was designed to bring industries in Arizona and Sonora together to share information and technologies on reducing wastes and pollution, while increasing profits, worker safety and environmental health.

When the program was created, in collaboration with state and federal officials in Mexico, there was little interaction with representatives from the maquiladora or twin-plant industry located right across the border from Arizona. Maquiladoras are manufacturing or assembly plants in Mexico with goods and equipment staying in the country temporarily. In addition to tax incentives by participating in the maquiladora program, companies are required to return goods and wastes generated from their manufacture to the country of origin of the raw materials. This means that hazardous wastes generated by maquiladoras directly across the border from Arizona are transported to treatment or disposal facilities in the U.S. through the state.

Through AMIGO, maquiladoras in Sonora and companies in Arizona participated in voluntary peer-to-peer workshops and site visits to exchange ideas and assist each other in reducing waste streams. During the program’s existence, representatives from participating maquiladoras began a non-profit organization called the Association of Environmental Safety Professionals of Sonora. This organization now provides a sustainable manner in which peer-to-peer collaboration on environmental issues continues.

AMIGO Environmental Annual Award

As part of the Arizona-Mexico International Green Organization (AMIGO), a recognition program was established to recognize partners who demonstrated leadership in implementing and supporting the goals of pollution prevention to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous waste and the use of toxic substances in the Arizona-Sonora border region. The award selection committee was comprised of one representative from each of the following agencies: ADEQ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of Sonora Ecology and Sustainable Development Commission (CEDES), and the Sonora Delegation of Mexico's Federal Attorney General for the Environment (PROFEPA). The awards were presented by the governors of Arizona and Sonora during the annual Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC) Fall Plenary. The last AMIGO Award was presented to the maquiladora MTD Southwest Inc. in 2011.

AMIGO Related Accomplishments

Companies such as Bose, Motorola, Master Lock, Chamberlain, Becton-Dickinson, Alcatel-Lucent, and the Association of Environmental Professionals of Sonora, have spearheaded efforts to foster pollution prevention, both within their industrial processes and in their communities. Some specific accomplishments by individual industries include pollution prevention seminars and environmental management systems, training for over 3,500 employees, reducing the generation of paint waste by up to 1,700 gallons a year, eliminating lead emissions by replacing lead solder with an aqueous-based solder solution, and reducing the annual amount of waste sent to the landfill by 7,300 pounds.

In an impressive demonstration of reducing wastes while also creating a beneficial outcome, several of these companies partnered with their city government (Nogales, Sonora, Mexico), academic institutions, and community volunteers to construct a fibercrete home. On October 17, 2008 a dedication ceremony was held to present the first fibercrete home in Nogales, Sonora to its new owners, a single mother and her three children. Fibercrete, also known as papercrete, is an environmentally friendly construction material which, compared to a standard cinder block, contains a minimal amount of cement and sand. The major component for papercrete blocks is paper pulp. This project reduced the amount of paper and cardboard waste going to the local landfill by eight tons. Participants estimated that they saved 100 trees in the construction process, which can sequester 1,200 lbs. of carbon dioxide and generate 1,800 lbs. of oxygen annually. For more on this type of activity, visit:

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