Long Term Trends Of Waste Generation
Free (open access)
707 - 714
U. Bardi & A. Lavacchi
Despite the large number of studies on the many facets of waste management, only a modest activity seems to have been expended on the question of forecasting trends of waste generation and, in particular, worldwide long term trends. In planning, the public and administrators alike always seem to assume that the rate of waste generation will continue its historical trend of increase. Yet, this expectation does not seem to be based on models or on factual studies. The first system dynamics study of worldwide waste production was reported in 1973 and, already at that time, a slowdown and, eventually, a decrease of the rate of waste production was the long term expectation from the model. Examining the present worldwide situation, we see that indeed such a slowdown, and even a trend reversal is ongoing in several countries. It appears that the waste generation rate will not keep increasing forever. Keywords: waste management, dynamic modelling. 1 Introduction The historical trend of increase in waste generation worldwide has been fuelling worries about how to manage this large flux of materials. At times, the future is described as an environmental catastrophe in which waste will engulf us all as a consequence of the filling up of the available landfills. Something not unlike this extreme scenario has been taking place in Naples, Italy, in 2008. But nothing can grow forever in a finite world and waste generation cannot be an exception. Yet, forecasting waste generation trends is not commonly seen in the reports of the various waste management agencies in the world and is not common in the scientific literature, either. In this sense, the waste management industry is much different than its equivalent at the opposite end of the industrial cycle: the extractive industry and in particular the fossil fuels industry. The latter
waste management, dynamic modelling.