Defra publish evidence review on business waste prevention

Waste prevention is a current policy priority for governments across Europe. It is thus timely that Professor David C Wilson has published a seminal paper, which he also presented at the ISWA Annual Congress last week, reviewing the international evidence base on business waste prevention, in order to underpin policy making.  DCW managed the original review on behalf of Defra, the English Environment Ministry, the work being undertaken by a consortium comprising Oakdene Hollins, Brook Lyndhurst and the Resource Recovery Forum.

The paper written by DCW and co-authors was presented at the International Solid Waste association (ISWA)’s Annual Congress in Florence on 18 September, and is published in an open-access special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Waste Management & Research. The papersummarises the scale and benefits of business waste prevention; categorises waste prevention initiatives into four approaches; presents a conceptual framework and uses that to analyse attitudes and behaviours; and providess selected examples to show the effectiveness of eight different types of policy intervention.

The original Defra project was published in February 2012. The results were presented for ease of use as 28 inter-linked modular reports. They can be accessed here (check on ‘search’ and enter ‘WR1403’ as the keyword). The results of the review were showcased at a Defra-WRAPworkshop on 29 February 2012, at which DCW chaired the morning evidence session.

Waste prevention is at the top of the waste hierarchy.  The revised EUrevised Waste Framework Directive requires Member States to introduce a national Waste Prevention Programme by December 2013. DCW has been advising Defra (the English Environment Ministry) on their waste and resources evidence programme, and in particular on the evidence relating to waste prevention, since 2004.

The definition of waste prevention used in this evidence review of business waste follows the Directive, including waste avoidance, waste reduction at source or in process and product reuse – recycling is outside the scope. The search for evidence was very broad, covering UK and international, academic and ‘grey’, electronic and printed, and English, French and German language sources dating back at least to 1995. Almost 1,000 relevant documents were identified, of which nearly 600 passed initial screening. 

The analysis followed the broad logic of waste prevention actions by business, starting from the basic drivers of legislation and competition. Central to any analysis of the evidence is a detailed examination of the attitudes and behaviours of business.  The other two fundamental perspectives used in sorting and assembling the evidence were the particular commercial or industrial sector and the types of intervention to encourage action. A key analytical tool was to characterise the actions that a business can take to prevent waste into a number of approaches.

DCW also managed a previous Defra project, published in October 2009, which reviewed the available evidence on household waste prevention and received an internal Defra award for ‘excellence in the communication of science/engineering to policy makers’. This formed the basis of a special issue of the peer reviewed journal Waste Management & Research, published in March 2010, for which DCW co-wrote the guest editorial and co-authored four papers based on the Defra work.

Waste and resource management in Bahrain

Professor David C Wilson is co-author of a research article: Resource management performance in Bahrain: a systematic analysis of municipal waste management, secondary material flows and organizational aspects, published in the August issue of Waste Management & Research, 30 (8) 813-824. The research was undertaken by one of his students, Maram Al Sabbagh, using the methodology for profiling waste management originally developed by DCW and colleagues for UN-Habitat. Bahrain fills a gap in both the geographical and income level coverage of the previous sample of 20 cities.

Two papers on cost estimation for waste management in developing countries

Professor David C Wilson is co-author of two recently published original research articles on cost estimation and cost function analysis for waste management in developing countries. DCW has been working for several years as an external supervisor with Shantha Parthan, a PhD student at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Shantha’s research is on improved cost planning for municipal solid waste management in developing countries, where problems are severe, expectations for improvements are high, but finances are constrained.

One paper is Cost estimation for solid waste management in industrialising regions – Precedents, problems and prospects, published in the March 2012 issue of the journal Waste Management32(3) 584–594, which examines alternative approaches used in both industrialised and industrialising countries. The other is Cost function analysis for solid waste management: a developing country experience, published in the May 2012 issue of Waste Management & Research, 30(5) 485–491, which explores the potential use of cost functions, using as a case study an extensive data set covering some 300 Indian cities.

Professor David C Wilson publishes 2 papers in Waste Management & Research

The June issue of the ISWA journal Waste Management & Research (WM&R) is a special issue on Driving waste management towards sustainable development. DCW wrote the keynote paper on ‘Development drivers for waste management’.
This  explores how drivers have varied over time, and how they vary today across the world (Waste Manage Res 2007, 25 (3), 198-207). DCW also co-authored a paper on ‘Using research-based knowledge to underpin waste and resources policy’ (Waste Manage Res 2007, 25 (3), 247-256), which examines the theory and practice of ‘evidence-based policy making’ in the waste and resources field.