USP 514 Session 10 Notes

October 19th and 21st
Session Ten: Sustainable Urban Waste Management

This session will focus on the approaches, policies, and practices that can promote sustainable waste management and resource recovery. We will be guided by the following questions.

Waste is unwanted material intentionally thrown away for disposal.

  1. What are the basic characteristics of waste as it relates to urban waste management issues?
    • Solid vs liquid
    • Organic vs inorganic
    • Human activities
      • Agriculture, husbandry
      • Energy sources
      • Water collection and use
      • Building shelters and buildings
      • Making tools and other objects for cultural, industrial and spiritual reasons
      • Conflict and warfare
    • Production of products with toxic materials
  2. What waste management systems and technologies have been developed by planners in the “industrialized world”?
    • Landfills
    • Recycling
    • Composting
  3. What are the environmental and social impacts of these waste management systems and technologies?
    • The waste stream has become much more toxic
    • Accumulation of toxics in the waste stream
      • Toxins like dioxin are now in the breast milk of every woman on earth.
    • Accumulation of inorganic material in the waste stream
  4. What alternative systems and technologies can be put into place? 
    • We have to move from a waste management approach to a resource recovery approach. (“Because approach is the highest level”)
      • Composting: 40% of the waste in landfills is food waste
      • Ashes
      • Cans and bottles
      • Electronics recycling
      • Thrift stores
    • Cradle to grave vs cradle to cradle
    • RRRR: Reduce, reuse, recycle, rot
    • Up-cycling, down-cycling
  5. How viable are these alternatives?
    • These alternatives are extremely viable
    • They are used throughout Europe
  6. How can waste management professionals promote sustainable waste management and use?


REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION TEN (click on Session 10 on left side to access reading)

  1. Alternative Urban Futures: Chapter Two
    • Solid waste
    • Environmental and social aspects of conventional solid waste disposal approaches
      • Open pit dumping and burning
      • Landfills
      • Sanitary landfills
      • Incineration
    • Sustainable solid waste management and planning
      • Creating a sustainable materials economy
      • Materials management and resource recognition
        • Pollution prevention and producer responsibility
      • Waste disposal taxes and refund deposit strategies
      • Subsidies and incentives
      • Reprocessing/ Materials exchange
      • Household and small business waste reduction and recycling
      • Household waste collection in informal settlements
      • Individual recycled material collectors
    • A cautionary word about recycling
      • Reducing organic waste accumulation: composting



  1. Story of Stuff –
    • Resource economy is a linear process with many open loops, therefore not sustainable.
    • 1/3 of our initial natural resources are now gone.
    • Less than 4% of natural forests remain in the US.
    • 5% of the word’s population lives in the US
      • US uses 30% of the world’s resources
      • US creates 30% of the world’s waste
    • 80% of the planets forests are now gone
    • 75% of fisheries are fished over their capacity
    • Distribution: Keep price down, keep people buying, keep inventory moving
    • Externalized cost: the real cost are not how much we buy it. people in extraction use their natural resources to pay
    • Consumption(golden key.) they have designed to make consumers buy more
      • Planned obsolescence: products designed to fail so you have to buy a new one
      • Perceived obsolescence: New products designed to look new; creating social pressure for others to buy new things
      • Extraction, Production, Distribution all work for this
    • National happiness is going down while consumption is going up
    • We have less leisure time than at any point since feudal society
    • Disposal: They burn the garbage you make and pollute to the air
    • Recycling is good
      • Reduces waste and reduces inputs
      • Much of the garbage can’t be recycled because it’s toxic or it’s designed to be impossible to recycle (ie tetra-packs)
    • One can of trash in front of your house means 71 cans of trash upstream in order to make the stuff in your one can of trash
  2. Impact of Mining Activities in Africa and the Anthropocene, Against the Grain 10/23/18



  1. Go to “What a Waste: Solid Waste Management to 2050″
  2. Read the report 
  3. Choose 3 case studies from the report (see list below) and be prepared to discuss them in class  


Case Studies

  1. A Path to Zero Waste in San Francisco, United States 141
  2. Achieving Financial Sustainability in Argentina and Colombia 143
  3. Automated Waste Collection in Israel 147
  4. Cooperation between National and Local Governments for Municipal Waste Management in Japan 148
  5. Central Reforms to Stabilize the Waste Sector and Engage the Private Sector in Senegal 151
  6. Decentralized Organic Waste Management by Households in Burkina Faso 152
  7. Eco-Lef: A Successful Plastic Recycling System in Tunisia 153
  8. Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes in Europe 155
  9. Financially Resilient Deposit Refund System: The Case of the Bottle Recycling Program in Palau 158
  10. Contents of What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 vii
  11. Improving Waste Collection by Partnering with the Informal Sector in Pune, India 161
  12. Improving Waste Management through Citizen Communication in Toronto, Canada 163
  13. Managing Disaster Waste 165
  14. Minimizing Food Loss and Waste in Mexico 167
  15. Sustainable Source Separation in Panaji, India 170 15. Musical Garbage Trucks in Taiwan, China 173
  16. The Global Tragedy of Marine Litter 174
  17. Using Information Management to Reduce Waste in Korea