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

UNEP launch their Global Waste Management Outlook

Professor David C Wilson, the editor-in-chief, presented UNEP’s Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO) at its launch at the ISWA World Congress in Antwerp on Monday 7th September. The GWMO provides the first comprehensive global overview of the state of waste management around the world in the 21st century. It sets out a series of five Global Waste Management Goals and a call for action addressed to individuals, businesses, governments and the international community. There are three main GWMO Outputs, with the main report of around 300 pages being accompanied by an 8-page infographic Summary for Decision Makers and a 2-page flyer for a general audience. All can be downloaded freely.

Waste management is a key utility service and a critical element of the infrastructure that underpins Society – it is often rated in the top three priorities faced by developing country cities – but, tends also to be ‘taken for granted’ and does not often appear towards the top of national or international political agendas. This was recognised at the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit in 2012, following which the UNEP Governing Council requested UNEP: ‘to develop a global outlook of challenges, trends and policies in relation to waste prevention, minimization and management … to provide guidance for national policy planning’.

Waste management is a cross-cutting issue impacting on many aspects of society and the economy. It has strong linkages to a range of other global challenges such as health, climate change, poverty reduction, food and resource security and sustainable production and consumption. The five Global Waste Management Goals set out in the GWMO are all to be found within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (agreed by the world’s leaders in New York just a couple of weeks after the launch of the GWMO), but making progress toward them would contribute to achieving 11 out of 17 SDGs.

The GWMO estimates that around 2 billion people worldwide lack access to a basic waste collection service, while around 3 billion lack access to controlled disposal services for municipal solid wastes. So the first two Global Waste Management Goals are to ensure by 2020 access for all, to adequate, safe and affordable solid waste collection services; and (2) to stop uncontrolled dumping and open burning. Goal 3 takes this one step further, by 2030 to achieve sustainable and environmentally sound management of all wastes, particularly hazardous wastes. As part of the Global Call for Action, the GWMO is calling on the international community to mobilise international aid, and environmental and climate funds, to assist the poorest countries to provide basic waste services to all in urban areas. Specifically, to increase the proportion of funding directed to waste management by a factor of 10, from the 0.3% achieved over the last decade.

The remaining Global Waste Management Goals focus: (4) on ensuring by 2030 a substantial reduction in waste generation through prevention and the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), thereby creating green jobs; and more specifically, (5) cutting by a half per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses in the supply chain.

The technologies required to ‘solve’ the waste problem are largely already available, and have been much written about. The GWMO has chosen rather to focus primarily on the less fashionable ‘governance’ issues which need to addressed to establish a sustainable solution –including the regulatory and other policy instruments, the partnerships and, crucially, the financing arrangements– and to provide a ‘toolkit’ to be used in developing a solution appropriate to the local situation.

The GWMO has been prepared by an international team for UNEP’s International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) and ISWA. It is the result of two year’s work, including broad international peer review of three main drafts. The team was headed up by DCW as editor-in chief and lead author. The lead author of the data review chapter was Dr Prasad Modak, EMC India; waste governance, Dr Ljiljana Rodic, Wageningen University; and waste financing, Reka Soos, RWA Romania. Other co-authors were Ainhoa Carpintero, IETC (project manager); Dr Costas Velis, University of Leeds (Academic advisor); Professor Mona Iyer, CEPT University, India (Case study editor) ; and Otto Simonett, Zoi Environment (Communications advisor).



Official launch of the GWMO

Official launch of the GWMO

Madam Oyun launching the GWMO

Madam Oyun launching the GWMO

DCW presenting the GWMO at the Ministerial launch

DCW presenting the GWMO at the Ministerial launch

DCW launching the GWMO

DCW launching the GWMO


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.

Waste management and recycling in the former Soviet Union

DCW is the corresponding author of a paper published today on: Waste management and recycling in the former Soviet Union: The City of Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan). This is an important contribution to the literature, as systematic information on solid waste management in the former Soviet Union is scarce, and a particular focus of this investigation was to characterise the nature and extent of recycling activity in the city following the end of the state-sponsored recycling system. The lead author, Natasha Sim, is a former student of DCW, and will present the paper in Session 14 of the ISWA World Congress 2013 in Vienna on 8 October. The paper was selected for publication in a Special Issue of the ISWA peer-reviewed journal Waste Management & Research, published to coincide with the Congress. The Special Issue is Open Access, so the full paper can be downloaded free of charge.

The paper presents a solid waste management profile for the city of Bishkek in the Kyrgyz Republic (referred to here as Kyrgyzstan). The municipal solid waste management system is described following the standard ISWM UN-Habitat benchmarking methodology and the results are compared to 20 cities worldwide. The feedback from further testing the UN-Habitat ISWM benchmarking protocol has fed back into further work to develop the next generation of ISWM benchmark indicators, progress on which DCW will also be presenting at the Vienna Congress.

DCW at the ISWA World Congress in Vienna

The ISWA World Congress 2013 will be held in Vienna from 7-11 October, with more than 1000 participants from over 70 different countries already registered. Professor David C Wilson is a member of the Scientific Committee, and will Chair two sessions as well as presenting two of his own papers and co-authoring a third paper. DCW’s two papers are Operator Models for Delivering Municipal Solid Waste Management Services in Emerging and Developing Countries, presenting results from a major project funded by German International Assistance (GIZ) in Session 3; and Benchmark Indicators for Integrated & Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM), reporting on recent progress with a major project to compare SWM performance in cities around the world, which he has been leading for the last five years (Session 23).

ISWA – the International Solid Waste Association – represents waste management professionals worldwide. It is a global, independent and non-profit making association, working in the public interest ‘To Promote and Develop Sustainable and Professional Waste Management Worldwide’. Its Annual Congress is one of the world’s most important congresses in the field of waste management.As a member of the Scientific Committee,

DCW reviewed papers submitted to the Congress’s Call for Papers on Electronic and Electrical Waste, and Chairs Session 19 on that topic. DCW is also Scientific Co-ordinator of ISWA’s Task Force on Waste and Globalisation and Chairs Session 53 which reports outputs from their work on Global Flows of Materials for Recycling. He is also co-author of a paper on waste management and recycling in Bishkek (Session 14) and of last year’s paper which has won the ISWA Publication Award 2013, which will be presented at the Gala Dinner.

Major DCW paper on the state of solid waste management in developing countries

David C Wilson, Ljiljana Rodic and Costas Velis have published a major overview paper in this month’s Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Waste and Resource Management, on Integrated Sustainable Waste Management in Developing Countries: Concept, Realities and Challenges. The data presented show that the waste management performance of developing country cities has improved significantly over the last 10 years. Levels of collection coverage and controlled disposal of 95% in middle-income, and 50% in low-income, countries are already commonplace. Recycling rates of 20-30% are achieved by the informal sector in many lower income countries, at no direct cost to the city – presenting a major opportunity for all key stakeholders, if the persistent challenges can be resolved.

UPDATE 05 June 2014. This paper has won an ICE Publishing Award, and is now free to download.

This paper uses the lens of ‘Integrated sustainable waste management’ (ISWM) to examine how cities in developing countries have been tackling their solid waste problems. The history of related concepts and terms is reviewed, and ISWM is clearly differentiated from integrated waste management (IWM), used mostly in the context of technological integration in developed countries. Instead, ISWM examines both the physical components – collection, disposal, recycling – and the governance aspects – inclusivity of users and service providers; financial sustainability; and coherent, sound institutions underpinned by proactive policies.

The evidence suggests that efficient, effective and affordable systems are tailored to local needs and conditions, developed with direct involvement of service beneficiaries. Despite the remaining challenges, evidence of recent improvements suggests that sustainable solid waste and resources management is feasible for developing countries.

The paper builds on substantial recent research by DCW and his colleagues. Other papers compare the performance of a sample of 20 cities around the world; and provide a framework for designing city-specific initiatives for the inclusion of the informal recycling sector within a municipal solid waste management system. Professor David C Wilson is at Imperial College London; Dr Ljiljana Rodic at Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands; and Dr Costas Velis at the University of Leeds, UK.

Building developing country recycling through the informal sector

One of Professor David C Wilson’s long-standing research interests at Imperial College is the contribution made to solid waste management (SWM) in developing country cities by the often large informal recycling sector (IRS). This autumn has seen a flurry of activity. The leading French newspaper Le Monde ran a feature article by Gilles van Kotte on the importance of the IRS on 01 September 2012, including an interview with DCW. A major paper presented at the ISWA Annual Congress in September sets out a framework for professionalisation and integration of the IRS into SWM systems. DCW made a presentation to an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) conference in October, on the role of the role of public-private partnerships in SWM in developing countries, including that of the IRS. And DCW chaired an invited workshop in November to discuss partnerships between global producers of consumer goods and the IRS, to achieve product stewardship goals in developing countries.

Many developing country cities aspire to modern waste management systems, which are associated with relatively high recycling rates of clean, source separated materials. Most already have informal sector recycling systems, which are driven solely by the revenues derived from selling recovered materials, even though they are saving the formal sector money by reducing waste quantities. There is clear potential for ‘win-win’ solutions, which increase recycling rates, protect people’s livelihoods, improve working conditions and reduce child labour, bring the recyclers within the formal economy, and reduce further the overall costs of waste management for the formal sector.

DCW is currently leading work on the IRS for the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA)’s Task Force on Waste and Globalisation, which is aiming both to make the case for, and also to provide guidance on how to achieve, such professionalisation and integration. The ISWA Congress paper, presented on 18 September and  published in an open-access special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Waste Management & Research, sets out an analytical framework for selecting a set of interventions which is appropriate in a particular local situation. Possible interventions are grouped into four categories: one of these focuses on organisation and capacity building of the IRS; while the other three are the interfaces between the IRS and the formal SWM system, the materials and value chain, and society as a whole. The recommendation is that IRS professionalisation and integration initiatives should consider all four categories in a balanced way, and pay increased attention to their interdependencies which are central to success, including specific actions such as the IRS having access to source separated waste and to microfinance.

DCW was invited to present at the AFD conference in Paris on 25 October by PROPARCO, which promotes private sector investment in development. A special issue of their journal Private Sector & Development, on Waste: the challenges facing developing countries,was launched at the conference.

The Product Stewardship – Informal Sector Forum in Berlin on 14-15 November was hosted by the German Technical Co-operation AgencyGIZ, and organised for them by the consultancies RWA and Waste.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) was developed in Europe as a policy tool, aiming to transfer the responsibility and costs of managing post-consumer product waste back from the local authorities to the ‘producer’ or supply-chain which provided the original product. The aim of this informal forum was to exchange and develop practical, workable ideas for sustainable, inclusive product stewardship in middle-income countries, where the existing recyclers are largely in the informal sector.