We’re building resourceful communities, in order to eliminate the whole concept of waste, because as sustainability stewards, we know that there is a better way to develop, use real estate and recover resources than the ways that have come to be accepted and codified or standard. We also know that in spite of countless efforts, the land, construction, real estate and sanitation or waste management sectors are not responding adequately to the dynamic business changes. And that they need to generate more win-win-win solutions to wickedly complex problems in order to increase their expertise, infrastructure and resource effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.
However, as those almost all hing on the choices of strategic decision makers, there is a long list of factors that need to be addressed at organizational levels that influence the organization of the interlinked development, realty and recovery sectors. These include Organizational Project Management (OPM) and Project Management Offices (PMOs) for sustainable portfolio, program and project managers. They also need to factor in such other critical aspects in projects as selected inputs, tools/techniques and outputs stemming from the management of the following
- Governance: Structure, Purpose, Processes and People Skills, Roles, Responsibilities
- Business approach: Regulative, Collaborative, Integrative or Generative/Productive
- Dueling Constraint Management: Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resources, and Risks
- Communications and Marketing Strategy and Legacy
- Procurement and Stakeholders Policies, Procedures and Practices
- Corporate Social Responsibilities; Liabilities, Obligations, Expectations;
- Resource Distribution and Waste Management Planning
- Measurements, Verification and Reporting Methodologies
- View of resources
To do this, there is a critical need for local to global system change management initiatives focused on:
- Policy and procedure coherence for the sustainable development goals that will facilitate the following
- Guidance on emerging resource effective, efficient and productive practices
- Integrated development planning, design and delivery of sustainably built systems
- Responsible sustainable consumption and production, starting with resource management
- The elimination of planned obsolescence in favor of multi-level design models, reverse logistics and other proven models that can define, measure, analyse, improve, control, design and verify to ensure that all three sustainability dimensions are considered:
- Leave no one behind;
- Live within our means;
- Leave something behind
Wasting building materials which could be reused, recycled or recovered for energy, does not only increase landfill stress or demand, thus negative environmental, economical and social impacts; it also increases demand for new building materials and their respective Life Cycle Impacts.
- Fossil fuel depletion
- Other non-renewable resource use
- Water use
- Global warming potential
- Stratospheric ozone depletion
- Ground level ozone (smog) creation
- Neutrification/eutrophication of water bodies
- Acidification and acid deposition (dry and wet)
- Toxic releases to air, water and land
While LCA may be a complex science with still relatively limited data, understanding the core principles, and applying Life Cycle thinking is extremely important to change mindset on how we view resource.
To learn about LCA and find valuable tools, consult the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute at http://www.athenasmi.org
Make the Connection
The following facts from the Global Development Research Centre (http://www.gdrc.org/uem/waste/waste.html), demonstrate a few of the broad and long lasting impacts of the choices we make:
- The UN Development Program (UNDP) estimates that more than five million people die each year from diseases related to inadequate waste disposal systems;
- At least 60% of the countries that submitted national reports to the United Nations in advance of the 1992 Earth Summit said that solid waste disposal was among their biggest environmental concerns;
- Industrialized countries generate more than 90% of the world’s annual total of some 325-375 million tons of toxic and hazardous waste, mostly from the chemical and petrochemical industries;
- Most countries in the developed world only introduced laws to control hazardous waste disposal in the 1970s and are left with a vast heritage of pre-legislation sites. Nearly 2% of North America’s underground aquifers may be contaminated by such dumps. Germany has identified 35,000 problem sites, Denmark has 3,200 and the Netherlands 4,000. (The CRI Council will seek to learn more about such sites in North America and elsewhere);
- Landfill Gas: One tonne of waste tipped in a landfill produces between 200 and 400 cubic metres of landfill gas. Methane is about 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide and allowing methane to escape into the atmosphere has significant global warming implications.
- Landfill Leachate: During landfill site operation, a liquid known as ‘Leachate’ is produced. This is a mixture of organic degradation products, liquid waste and rain water. Leachate is extremely variable in composition depending on the nature of the waste in the landfill and the landfill design, but typically it has high organic carbon content, high concentrations of nitrogen and is usually slightly acidic. Landfills are designed and operate to seal the waste as much as possible from the surrounding environment. Central to this environmental protection is avoiding groundwater contamination.
GLOBAL WASTE AT A GLANCE
Today, there are countless options to better research and educate on the negative impacts associated with untenable consumption and production. Yet, as the world hurtles toward its urban future, the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW), one of the most important by-products of an urban lifestyle, is growing even faster than the rate of urbanization. At the turn of the Century, there were 2.9 billion urban residents who generated about 0.64 kg of MSW per person per day (0.68 billion tonnes per year). ‘What a Waste – A Global Review of Solid Waste Management’ 2012 report by The World Bank, indicates that these amounts had increased to about 3 billion residents generating 1.2 kg per person per day (1.3 billion tonnes per year). By 2025 this will likely increase to 4.3 billion urban residents generating about 1.42 kg/capita/day of municipal solid waste (2.2 billion tonnes per year).
Global Waste Management Practices
- In solid waste management there is no throwing ‘away’.
- The organic fraction of waste, collection vehicles, and waste disposal methods contribute to GHG emissions.
- The last two decades have brought a new challenge for waste management: the growing vagaries of global secondary materials markets.
- MSW generation levels are expected to double by 2025.
- The higher the income level and rate of urbanization, the greater the amount of solid waste produced.
- OECD countries produce almost half of the world’s waste, while Africa and South Asia regions produce the least waste.
- MSW collection is an important aspect in maintaining public health in cities around the world.
- The amount of MSW collected varies widely by region and income level; collection within cities can also differ greatly.
- Collection rates range from a low of 41% in low-income countries to a high of 98% in high-income countries.
- Waste composition is influenced by factors such as culture, economic development, climate, and energy sources; composition impacts how often waste is collected and how it is disposed.
- Low-income countries have the highest proportion of organic waste.
- Paper, plastics, and other inorganic materials make up the highest proportion of MSW in high-income countries.
- By region, EAP has the highest proportion of organic waste at 62%, while OECD countries have the least at 27%, although total amount of organic waste is still highest in OECD countries.
- Although waste composition is usually provided by weight, as a country’s affluence increases, waste volumes tend to be more important, especially with regard to collection: organics and inerts generally decrease in relative terms, while increasing paper and plastic increases overall waste volumes.
- Landfilling and thermal treatment of waste are the most common methods of MSW disposal in high-income countries.
- Although quantitative data is not readily available, most low- and lower middle-income countries dispose of their waste in open dumps.
- Several middle-income countries have poorly operated landfills; disposal should likely be classified as controlled dumping.