Professor David C Wilson is an invited speaker at this week’s International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) 2nd Waste & Climate Beacon Conference in Copenhagen, 19-20 April,2012. DCW’s topic is ‘Comparing Solid Waste Management in the World’s Cities’, and combines two major strands of his current work: looking at SWM around the world and in developing countries in particular; and promoting waste prevention as a major component of resource management as the next phase in modernising SWM in developed countries. The latter also builds on his particular interest in food waste prevention. DCW’s full presentation is now on the conference website.

This conference will focus ISWA’s work to bring waste management firmly onto the agenda for UN COP18 on climate change in Qatar later in 2012, a process which began at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. End-of-pipe waste management contributes 3-5% to global emissions of greenhouse gases, but both waste prevention and recycling have the potential for reducing global emissions by perhaps 15-20%. Waste management has already made strides in cutting emissions of methane (25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) from landfill. But 20% of the UK’s carbon footprint is accounted for by the food we eat – and up to 50% of our food is either wasted before it gets to the kitchen or is bought and thrown away without being eaten. So eliminating avoidable food waste would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 5-10% – which compares to the total contribution of end-of-pipe waste management of 3-5%.