Professor David C. Wilson
Waste & Resources Management Consultant
Visiting Professor in Waste Management
Imperial College, London

International Workshop on Resilience and Waste Management in Developing Countries

An international workshop on community resilience and waste management will be taking place in The Gambia 25-30 April 2017. Organised jointly by the Arkleton Trust and WasteAid UK, the event will involve communities from The Gambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria and India. WasteAid UK is currently undertaking David Wilson’s Presidential Project for the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), to compile practical guidance on how to provide community level waste management and how to develop waste and recycling livelihoods. The workshopwill allow this guidance to be tested and developed further, ensuring it fits closely with the needs of the target users.

The first part of the workshop will focus on community resilience, encouraging attendees to share their experiences and good practice in anticipating risk, limiting impact, and ways to survive, adapt and grow stronger. Nicola Swan of the Arkleton Trust, an expert in rural development and knowledge exchange, said: “The workshop will provide a creative space for grassroots community practitioners, leaders and policy makers to come together and share experiences and knowledge, and to learn from each other. The ingenuity of communities to succeed is profound and many communities have addressed issues in innovative ways.  Lack of infrastructure and other systemic issues remain a challenge though, and for this reason, we will be inviting a few policy makers and academics to benefit from the opportunity to hear things ‘from the horse’s mouth.’”

The second part of the workshop will cover waste management as a key tool for resilient communities. Waste that is not managed can become a hazard for people and wildlife. With simple recycling skills, however, people can keep their communities clean, create jobs and earn an income. WasteAid UK and other recycling specialists will be sharing recycling skills such as making charcoal from woody waste, fertiliser from food waste, and construction materials from plastic waste. WasteAid UK previously set up the Brikama Waste Reprocessing Centre in 2016 in partnership with Women’s Initiative The Gambia and is currently developing a Guide to Community Waste Management, with funding from CIWM, which will be reviewed by workshop participants. Mike Webster of WasteAid UK said: “Improving waste management is vital for communities to prosper and stay healthy. The event will allow skill sharing between community waste managers located in geographically diverse parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and will help WasteAid UK improve the techniques that turn waste into an economic opportunity”.

DCW speaking at two upcoming CIWM events

Professor David C Wilson will speak at the CIWM Northern Ireland Conference and Exhibition on 29 March 2017 on: REUSE: Time to make things happen, based on a major CIWM report on the state of reuse across the five nations of the British Isles, published in October 2016. He will also make the keynote address at a Red Hot Topics Open Meeting of CIWM’s South-West Centre on April 7 2017, when his topic will be: UK waste and resource management in a global context – CIWM’s role in addressing future challenges.

DCW to speak on the future of waste and recycling policy in the UK

Professor David C Wilson will be a keynote speaker at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum’s Seminar on 10 January 2017 on The future for waste and recycling policy in the UK. DCW’s subject will be The policy context for waste and the circular economy. Timed to follow a year on from the introduction of the EU Circular Economy package of reforms, the seminar will discuss the next steps for implementing measures to improve resource efficiency and the future for the waste sector in the UK. A particular focus for discussion on the day will likely be on the impacts of Brexit.

Full details, a live agenda and a booking form are available on the website.

Waste and climate – an opportunity

STOP PRESS: DCW has been invited to speak at the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (apsrg) seminar on ‘COP21 and Waste: Exploring the Resource Industry’s Potential of Contributing to Climate Change Mitigation’ at Westminster on 10 December 2015.

POSTED 09 November, 2015. In the run-up to the Paris summit on climate change, the search is on for short and medium term opportunities to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission across the economy. Several recent reports have pointed to the potential for improved waste and resource management as one such ‘entry point’. Some major developed economies have already reduced total GHG emissions by 5% through reduction of methane emissions from landfill. Tackling food waste could reduce global GHG emissions by 9%. Overall, the recent UNEP Global Waste Management Outlook (edited by DCW) has estimated that improved waste and resource management has the potential to save 15-20% of global GHG emissions across the economy.

Waste management is a cross-cutting issue impacting on many aspects of society and the economy. The link between waste and climate is particularly important. Waste management is generally considered a small but important contributor to GHG emissions. Its direct contribution through methane (CH4) emissions from anaerobic decomposition of organic wastes at disposal sites was estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at around 3% of total GHG emissions in 2010. However, this figure grossly underestimates the potential contribution of improved waste and resource management to global GHG mitigation, both because it ignores savings already made prior to 2010, and because the IPCC has used a very narrow definition of the ‘waste sector’.

Planet-wide MSW generation in 2010 was dominated by high-income countries, which had already substantially reduced methane emissions from landfills. For example, changes in Germany’s waste sector between 1990 and 2006 reduced the country’s total GHG emissions by 5% , and this was in addition to the significant mitigation of methane emissions already achieved prior to 1990.

The IPCC sector estimates are necessarily carefully segmented to avoid any possibility of double counting. So their estimate also omits those emissions displaced through waste prevention, reuse, recycling and biogenic energy recovery, as these occur outside of the ‘waste sector’ – a point which has also been highlighted in a recent report prepared for Zero Waste Europe. An earlier study for the German government, using a life cycle approach, estimated that a 10-15% reduction in global GHG emissions could be achieved through improved solid waste management, including landfill mitigation and diversion, energy from waste and recycling.

Including waste prevention could further increase this estimate. An on-going UN project estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food waste is generated every year, representing one third of all food produced for human consumption. Prevention of this food waste would reduce total global GHG emissions by an amazing 9%: more than the total emissions of any country other than the US and China.

Overall, the GWMO concludes that the potential impact of improved waste and resource management on reducing GHG emissions across a broad range of economic sectors could be 15-20%.

DCW in Argentina

Professor David C Wilson visited Argentina earlier this month at the invitation of the British Embassy. The Embassy had been asked for help with addressing their solid waste management challenges by the Province of Buenos Aires, and commissioned DCW to assess the priority needs of the Province and to advise on where those needs are best matched by UK expertise. DCW was also a keynote speaker at a conference on 7 November organised by the University of San Martin.

DCW used the ‘Wasteaware’ Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) benchmark indicators, which he has developed over the last 5 years with an international team, both to gather information on a systematic basis from meetings with local experts, and to provide a diagnostic tool for identifying priority needs at a high level. DCW presented a paper updating progress on developing the indicators at the ISWM World Congress in October 2013.

DCW gives opening keynote presentation at major UN conference in Tokyo

Professor David C Wilson gave the keynote presentation to open the Intersessional Conference on Building Partnerships for Moving towards Zero Waste, held in Tokyo, Japan from 16 to 18 February 2011. His subject was ‘Acting Alone to Partnerships – Strategic Approach for Sustainable Municipal Waste Management’, in which he drew in particular on his recent work for UN-Habitat. The conference contributed to deliberation on the theme of Waste Management at the 19th session of theUnited Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in May 2011, which in turn will feed into the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012. DCW’s presentation is now available.

The Tokyo conference was organized by the Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) of the United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), in close collaboration with the United NationsCentre for Regional Development (UNCRD) and the Ministry of the Environment Japan.  

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit. The CSD meets annually in New York, in two-year cycles, with each cycle focusing on clusters of specific thematic and cross-sectoral issues: solid waste management is one of the current themes, as outlined in the multi-year programme of work (2003-2017)(E/CN.17/2003/6).

CSD-19 is the policy session where intergovernmental decisions are made on policy options for overcoming obstacles and challenges in solid waste management, while taking into account lessons learned and best practices in relation to the theme. The Tokyo conference aimed build on the outcome and recommendations of the CSD-18 (review session) as well as the “International Consultative Meeting on Expanding Waste Management Services in Developing Countries,” held in March 2010 as an intersessional meeting for CSD-18. 

The February 2011 conference brought together relevant stakeholders (including representatives from cities, public waste utilities, private sector, key research and policy institutes, community-managed waste management programmes, and international institutions, among others), to discuss possible policy recommendations that would contribute to expanding waste management services in developing countries. The conference aimed to identify constraints and obstacles in the implementation of waste management policies, and to explore ways and means in which these stakeholders could partner with each other to strengthen their collaborative efforts to deal with growing waste management challenges in the perspective of ever increasing urbanization and consumption trends.