Achieving the waste-related SDGs

Ljiljana Rodic and David C Wilson’s paper in the peer-reviewed open access journal Sustainability was published today: Resolving Governance Issues to Achieve Priority Sustainable Development Goals Related to Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries. As a key utility service that more than 2 billion people are currently lacking, solid waste management (SWM) is a crosscutting issue that can be directly linked to 12 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Distinguishing between physical components and governance aspects of SWM, this research focuses on governance issues concerning basic solid waste collection services and controlled disposal, thus addressing the ‘How’ and the ‘Who’ dimensions of a SWM system.

As a form of transdisciplinary research, the findings from the literature on governance issues in SWM were iteratively subjected to several rounds of commentary by a large group of stakeholders from six continents, within the authors’ work for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s 2015 Global Waste Management Outlook. The study identifies a combination of complementary instruments required for extending collection to all and bringing disposal under control. While municipalities have a legal responsibility for providing services to their citizens, various service providers can contribute to an effective SWM system. Appropriate forms of funding are essential to secure financial sustainability of the services under the local conditions of affordability and willingness to pay. As new services require behavioural change on the part of citizens and municipal waste departments alike, communication and exchange with other stakeholders function as enabling and supporting factors. The significance of capacity development is highlighted.

New map comparing MSWM around the World

The 2016 World Population Data Sheet focuses on human needs and sustainable resources, and features a map comparing municipal solid waste generation and management in cities around the world. For reliable and comparable data, the US think tank Population Resources Bureau (PRB) turned to the Wasteaware benchmark indicators. The map features 18 cities selected from the current database of 40 cities prepared and collated by Professor David C Wilson and colleagues.

The World Population Data Sheet (WPDS) is an authoritative resource prepared annually by the long-established PRB, and widely used across the World. This year’s special focus, ‘Human Needs, Sustainable Resources’, is the subject of an online Insights feature. The inclusion of MSWM recognises it is an essential utility service to protect public health and both the local and global environment. The map highlights that waste quantities rise with the income level of the country. For each of the 18 cities, data is also shown for the Wasteaware benchmark indicators for public health (% collection coverage), environmental protection (% of collected waste properly disposed) and resource management (%recycled). The Wasteaware indicators provide a reliable comparison of the performance of a city’s MSWM system; the database for 40 cities has been prepared and collated By Professor David C Wilson (Imperial College London), Dr Ljiljana Rodic (Independent Consultant, Leiden, Netherlands) and Dr Costas Velis (University of Leeds). The WPDS may be downloaded as a pdf, and a data visualisation tool and teaching resources are also available.

DCW wins three publication awards

The ISWA 2015 Awards

The 2015 ISWA Awards before the presentation ceremony. They were designed and made by the upcycling sculptor Evy Puelinckx from found materials.

Professor David C Wilson and his co-authors have won three prestigious publication awards. Their paper ‘Wasteaware’ benchmark indicators to measure the performance of a city’s SWM system won two awards for the best paper published in 2014-15: the 2015 ISWA Publication Award and CIWM’s 2014-15 James Jackson Medal. The earlier 2012 paper in the same series, Comparative Analysis of Solid Waste Management in 20 Cities, won the inaugural WM&R Best Paper Award 2014, for the most cited paper published in the previous two years in the ISWA peer-reviewed journal Waste Management & Research.

The ISWA Publication Award citation noted that the ‘Wasteaware’ paper ‘… contributes to one of the major issues in … solid waste management (SWM) in developed and developing countries … has the potential to assist many countries in the world (in) developing sustainable and integrated SWM strategies.’ The two ISWA awards were presented at the ISWA 2015 World Congress in Antwerp on Tuesday 08 September, when DCW received two trophies designed and made by the upcycling sculptor Evy Puelinckx. The James Jackson Medal will be presented at the annual CIWM Sustainability and resource Awards at the London Marriott on 5 November 2015.

Professor David C Wilson, Ljiljana Rodic, Costas Velis and Anne Scheinberg are co-authors of both papers. The remaining co-authors of the Wasteaware indicators paper are Mike Cowing, Andy Whiteman, Recaredo Vilches, Darragh Masterson, Barbara Oelz and Joachim Stretz; and of the 20 Cities paper, Graham Alabaster.

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.

ISWA Publication Award 2010 – What is good practice in solid waste management?

Anne Scheinberg, David C Wilson and Ljiljana Rodic have won the 2010 ISWA Publication Award for their book Solid Waste Managment in the World’s Cities, which they co-authored and edited for UN-Habitat. The award was presented to Prof Wilson and Ms Scheinberg by the ISWA President Jeff Cooper at a ceremony in the Town Hall at the ISWA World Congress in Hamburg on 15 November 2010, which was attended by Graham Alabaster on behalf of UN-Habitat. As a result of the award, Professor Wilson and Ms Scheinberg were invited to write the guest editorial for the December 2010 issue of Waste Managment & Research, under the title ‘What is good practice in solid waste management’.

The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) presents an annual publication award to the best publication worldwide in the field of solid waste management. The 2010 award has gone to the three lead authors of this flagship publication, the third in UN-Habitat’s series on Water and Sanitation in the World’s Cities. The book draws out good practice using an innovative framework based on Integrated Sustainable Waste Managment (ISWM) as a ‘lens’ for viewing a city’s solid waste system: the focus is not only on the physical elements of the system (collection, disoposal and resource recovery) but also on the critical governance aspects that must be addressed for a system to be successful and sustainable (user and provider inclusivity, financial sustainability and sound institutions/ proactive policies). A new and innovative methodology was developed to gather consistent and comparable data from 20 cities, chosen to represent cities – rich and poor, large and small – in all six inhabited continents.

The award was presented to the three lead authors/ editors, but was the collective effort of a much larger team. More than 35 waste professionals contributed, largely drawn from a global community of practice, the Collaborative Working Group on Solid Waste Managment in Low- and Middle- Income Countries; in addition to teams in each of the 20 cities. The project was intiated and guided by Graham Alabaster on behalf of UN-Habitat.

Jeff Cooper, ISWA President and member of the Award judging panel, writes: ‘I commend this publication as essential reading for waste managers and all those concerned about resource management and the recovery of waste for further productive use.’

The book has recieved a number of positive and high profile reviews, including in the December 2010 issue of Waste Management & Research and the January 2011 issue of the member journal of the UK Chartered Institution of Wastes management, CIWM.

The book is published by Earthscan. A 20% discount is available on their website, using discount code AF20. 2012 update: the book is now also available via the WASTE website.