Professor David C Wilson has guest edited with Costas Velis of the University of Leeds a special issue of the peer reviewed journal Waste Management & Research on Cities and Waste. They co-authored the editorial on Cities and waste: Current and emerging issues, which is free to download. The 12 papers in the special issue cover a wide range of topics, including an assessment of the current municipal solid waste management system in Lahore, Pakistan co-authored by DCW.
In 1950, only 30% of the World’s population lived in urban areas; in 2014 that is now 54%; and by 2050 it is forecast to become 66% – the majority of that growth will be in Africa and Asia. There were 10 ‘megacities’ with a population over 10 million in 1990, of which five were in developing countries; there are 28 in 2014, with all but two of the new entrants in developing countries; the forecast for 2030 is 40. There is a strong correlation between municipal solid waste (MSW) generation per capita and the income level of a country, so as economies grow in low or middle income countries, we can expect per capita waste levels to increase. Hence, it is reasonable to predict that, for many cities in Africa and Asia, the total quantities of MSW in 2030 will be around double the current levels. Which is why we chose to focus this Special Issue of WM&R on Cities and Waste.
A number of the papers address this basic challenge, of how to provide a basic level of service for MSW in rapidly growing developing country cities. Two important papers address how to move waste management to resource management, and who owns waste, a question that is becoming increasingly important, and contentious, as resource values increase. One common theme across many of the papers is the need for more, and better data: ‘If you don’t measure or estimate it, then you can’t hope to manage it’.Another is providing support to decision making for sustainable waste management in a city: several papers apply a set of performance indicators that DCW has been working on from a number of years.