Abstract: The waste hierarchy currently dominates waste management planning in Australia. It is effective in helping planners consider options from waste avoidance or “reduction” through to providing infrastructure for landfill or other “disposal”. However, it is inadequate for guiding context-specific decisions regarding sustainable waste management and resource recovery, including the ability for stakeholders to compare a range of options on an equal footing whilst considering their various sustainability impacts and trade-offs. This paper outlines the potential use of Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) as a decision-making approach for the urban waste sector, illustrated using an Australian case study. IRP is well established in both the water and energy sectors in Australia and internationally. It has been used in long-term planning enabling decision-makers to consider the potential to reduce resource use through efficiency alongside options for new infrastructure. Its use in the waste sector could address a number of the current limitations experienced by providing a broader context-sensitive, adaptive, and stakeholder focused approach to planning not present in the waste hierarchy and commonly used cost benefit analysis. For both efficiency and new infrastructure options IRP could be useful in assisting governments to make decisions that are consistent with agreed objectives while addressing costs of alternative options and uncertainty regarding their environmental and social impacts. This paper highlights various international waste planning approaches, differences between the sectors where IRP has been used and gives a worked example of how IRP could be applied in the Australian urban waste sector.
Abstract: To fulfill the national bioenergy goals of the United States,conversion of marginal lands to intensive biomass crop production and/or application of greater amounts of nutrients to existing cropland could be expected. Such change in agricultural practices could produce unintended environmental consequences such as water quality degradation. Select Best Management Practices (BMPs) are evaluated for water quality mitigation effectiveness as well as for their relative cost-effectiveness, issues that are often ignored in evaluation of biofuels as a sustainable solution for energy demand. The water quality impacts of converting pastureland to intensive biomass production for biofuel, evaluated using the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), indicate significant increases in erosion and nutrient loadings to water bodies. Hydrologic and economic evaluation of the BMPs indicate their implementation produced effective water pollution mitigation but at substantial costs, accentuating the sustainability issue related to the economics of renewable fuels. U.S. national energy policy designed around achieving energy independence should also consider environmental and economic trade-offs for biofuels to be an economically and environmentally sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.
Abstract: Municipalities often face increasing demand for limited water supplies with few available alternative sources. Under some circumstances, bulk water transport may offer a viable alternative. This case study documents a hypothetical transfer between a water utility district in northern California and urban communities located on the coast of central and southern California. We compare bulk water transport costs to those of constructing a new desalination facility, which is the current plan of many communities for increasing supplies. We find that using water bags to transport fresh water between northern and southern California is in some instances a low-cost alternative to desalination. The choice is constrained, however, by concerns about reliability and, thus, risk. Case-study results demonstrate the challenges of water supply augmentation in water-constrained regions.
Abstract: If resilience theory is to be of practical value for policy makers and resource managers, the theory must be translated into sensible decision-support tools. We present herein a set of resilience attributes, developed to characterize human-managed systems, that helps system stakeholders to make practical use of resilience concepts in tangible applications. In order to build and maintain resilience, these stakeholders must be able to understand what qualities or attributes enhance—or detract from—a system’s resilience. We describe standardized resilience terms that can be incorporated into resource management plans and decision-support tools to derive metrics that help managers assess the current resilience status of their systems, make rational resource allocation decisions, and track progress toward meeting goals. Our intention is to provide an approachable set of terms for both specialists and non-specialists alike to apply to programs that would benefit from a resilience perspective. These resilience terms can facilitate the modeling of resilience behavior within systems, as well as support those lacking access to sophisticated models. Our goal is to enable policy makers and resource managers to put resilience theory to work in the real world.
Abstract: The long-term availability of mineral resources is crucial in underpinning human society, technology, and economic activity, and in managing anthropogenic environmental impacts. This is increasingly true for metals that do not generally form the primary product of mines (“host” metals), such as copper or iron, but are recovered as by-products (or sometimes co-products during the processing of primary ores). For these “companion” metals, it is therefore useful to develop methodologies to estimate the recoverable resource, i.e., the amount that could, if desired, be extracted and put into use over the next several decades. We describe here a methodological approach to estimating the recoverable resources of companion metals in metal ores, using preliminary data for some particular host/companion pairs in Australia as examples.