© The Author(s) 2014. As society evolves its welfare level increases, and as a consequence the amount of municipal solid waste increases, imposing great challenges to municipal authorities. In developed countries, municipalities have established integrated management schemes to handle, treat, and dispose of municipal solid waste in an economical and environmentally sound manner. Municipalities of developing and transition countries are not exempted from the challenges involving municipal solid waste handling, but their task is not easy to accomplish since they face budget deficits, lack of knowledge, and deficiencies in infrastructure and equipment. In the northern territory of Mexico, the municipality of Durango is facing the challenge of increased volumes of waste with a lack of adequate facilities and infrastructure. This article analyses the evolution of the municipal solid waste management of Durango city, which includes actions such as proper facilities construction, equipment acquisition, and the implementation of social programmes. The World Bank, offering courses to municipal managers on landfill operation and waste management, promoted the process of knowledge and technology transfer. Thereafter, municipal authorities attended regional and some international workshops on waste management. In addition they followed suggestions of international contractors and equipment dealers with the intention to improve the situation of the waste management of the city. After a 15-year period, transfer of knowledge and technology resulted in a modern municipal solid waste management system in Durango municipality. The actual system did not reach the standard levels of an integrated waste management system, nevertheless, a functional evaluation shows clear indications that municipality actions have put them on the right pathway.