Researchers have come up with a new tool to improve the measurement of waste management performance, according to a recent study.
In the study, "The zero waste index: a performance measurement tool for waste management systems in a 'zero waste city,'" researchers found that San Francisco is closer to achieving zero waste than Stockholm and Adelaide, due to its emphasis on reusing solid waste.
Cities cover 2 percent of the world's surface, but generate 70 percent of the world's waste. With increasing urban populations and consumption in developing nations, levels of urban waste can be expected to continue growing.
In contract, the zero-waste concept calls for "no such thing as waste." This study discusses this concept and presents a method for assessing cities' zero-waste performance.
The Zero Waste Index quantifies solid-waste flows and measures the extent to which materials may be reused as substitutes for virgin materials.
The researchers disagree with the commonly held belief that zero end disposal through landfill is the same thing as zero waste, and argue that this definition does not place enough emphasis on how waste can be reused as a material resource (as opposed to being incinerated, for instance).
Furthermore, they do not believe that zero end disposal accounts for "upstream" aspects of the waste hierarchy, such as minimizing the need for materials through behaviour change and efficient design of products and services. Instead, they take a broader look at city resources, believing that the zero waste concept should go beyond zero landfill and aim for "zero depletion of natural resources."
The Zero Waste Index the researchers propose quantifies solid waste flows and measures the extent to which materials may be reused as substitutes for virgin materials.
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