Integrated Solid Waste Management: An Approach for Enhancing Climate Co-benefits through Resource Recovery

In Journal of Cleaner Production
Volume (Issue): DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.03.012
Peer-reviewed Article


Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from conventional solid waste management in developing Asian countries contribute significantly to global climate change. This paper argues that moving towards Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) offers a practical solution for mitigating these GHG emissions and for realising socio-economic as well as other environmental benefits. The study assesses the GHG emissions of an existing ISWM system in Muangklang Municipality, Thailand as compared to conventional treatment from a life cycle perspective. The integrated system which recovers nutrients, materials and energy from the waste stream, and reduces landfill disposal of organic and recyclable waste was found to have reduced GHG emissions very significantly compared to conventional landfill disposal, which is currently the most common waste treatment technology in Thailand. Among the individual technologies assessed, materials recycling was found to offer the largest reductions in GHG emissions from a life-cycle perspective.The calculations indicate that a properly designed integrated system with high but fully realistic recovery rates can drastically reduce the climate impact of waste management. Most municipalities in developing Asia are small-to-medium scale and share many characteristics with Muangklang. Therefore, the authors argue that most municipalities in the region could apply this type of low-cost locally adapted ISWM system. This would have numerous sustainability benefits, including drastically reduced GHG emissions.