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Special Issue "Transitioning to a Circular Economy with Sustainable Waste Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Waste and Recycling".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Hiroshan Hettiarachchi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
(formerly at) United Nations University (UNU-FLORES), 01067 Dresden, Germany
Interests: sustainability; circular economy; waste management; water recycling; environmental engineering; geotechnical engineering

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Waste management often requires a landfill to bury waste or an incinerator to burn it. These are perhaps the most well-organized waste management options available today, if the objective is just to “manage”. However, burying and burning are certainly not sustainable options. Going one step further to design the same landfill to capture methane (bioreactor landfill) or the same incinerator to make energy (waste-to-energy), can make the process of waste management address all aspects of sustainability: the environment, the economy, and society. This would also provide socioeconomic benefits such as income creation, in addition to safeguarding the environment and public health. Examples go beyond energy, as there is much more that we already recover like paper, plastics, glass, etc. and even the organic fraction that contributes to nutrient recycling through composting.

In addition to all of the above, recycling and recovery can play an important role in the way we manage our natural resources: the more we recycle/recover, the less we must borrow from our limited natural resources. As shown in Figure 1, sustainable waste management has a large, yet untapped, potential to make our economy circular. This is particularly important with the rising demand in production to cater to the increasing population and the changing consumption habits. Unfortunately, the amounts we recycle/recover on a global scale, as of now, is very low. Not only is it low but it also has a decreasing trend currently: the circularity of the global economy has decreased from 9% in 2018 to 8.6% in 2020 [2, 3]. Sustainable waste management has improved a lot over the past 30–40 years. However, these numbers suggest that there is much more to be achieved. While science and engineering can help with technological solutions, their implementation depends heavily on contributions from the socioeconomic disciplines.

In this context, this Special Issue is particularly interested in capturing how sustainable waste management can be used to expedite our transition to a circular economy. You are invited to contribute with new technologies, their implementation, policy analysis/adaptation (including the Sustainable Development Goals), socioeconomic aspects, and, most importantly, case studies that cover one or combination of topics. While the main emphasis is on solid waste, circular economy applications arising from water recycling are also welcome.

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Figure 1. The material flow in the current economy that is only 9% circular [1].

References:

  1. Hettiarachchi, H. The Peak of Sustainable Waste Management Assures the Sustainability of Natural Resources, But Only in a Circular Economy. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Sustainability of Natural Resources, Qassim, Saudi Arabia, 5–6 November 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338867880_The_Peak_of_Sustainable_Waste_
    Management_Assures_the_Sustainability_of_Natural_Resources_But_Only_in_a_Circular_Economy
  2. Circle Economy. The Circularity Gap Report 2018; Circle Economy, 2018. https://www.circle-economy.com/insights/the-circularity-gap-report-our-world-is-only-9-circular
  3. Circle Economy. The Circularity Gap Report 2020; Circle Economy, 2020. https://www.circularity-gap.world/2020

Prof. Dr. Hiroshan Hettiarachchi
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • waste management
  • environmental resources
  • circular economy
  • waste policy
  • recycling and recovery
  • sustainable development goals

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Household Waste Management Practices and Challenges in a Rural Remote Town in the Hantam Municipality in the Northern Cape, South Africa
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5903; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115903 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
Waste management in rural areas poses a major challenge to local governments in developing countries. Municipalities face limited budgets and obstacles with the collection of waste, as well as a lack of proper equipment, infrastructure, and treatment centres. These obstacles lead to further [...] Read more.
Waste management in rural areas poses a major challenge to local governments in developing countries. Municipalities face limited budgets and obstacles with the collection of waste, as well as a lack of proper equipment, infrastructure, and treatment centres. These obstacles lead to further problems, such as littering and illegal dumping, contributing to the knowledge base regarding remote and rural towns in South Africa. This study aims to assess the waste management practices and challenges of households in a Municipality in the Northern Cape, South Africa. The study investigates the household waste management practices, identifies the challenges experienced by households regarding their waste management, and explores their willingness to participate in a separation-at-source program. A cross-sectional research design was used along with a mixed methods research methodology. A sample of 160 interviews was completed over the period 16 to 20 September 2019. Descriptive statistics and a thematic analysis were used in the data analysis. The results indicate that municipalities, and households, will have to collaboratively search for solutions towards effective waste management in rural areas. Financial constraints also necessitate the investigation of alternative ways of managing household waste through cooperation with surrounding towns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transitioning to a Circular Economy with Sustainable Waste Management)
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Article
Optimising Nutrient Cycles to Improve Food Security in Smallholder Farming Families—A Case Study from Banana-Coffee-Based Farming in the Kagera Region, NW Tanzania
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9105; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219105 - 02 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1785
Abstract
In East Africa, soil nutrient depletion and low yields jeopardise the food security of smallholder farming families and exacerbate poverty. The main reasons for the depletion of soil nutrients are overuse due to population growth, limited land, and increasing uncertainty in agricultural production [...] Read more.
In East Africa, soil nutrient depletion and low yields jeopardise the food security of smallholder farming families and exacerbate poverty. The main reasons for the depletion of soil nutrients are overuse due to population growth, limited land, and increasing uncertainty in agricultural production caused by climate change. This study aims to analyse and optimise nutrient flows and stocks in the homegardens of smallholder banana-coffee-based farming systems in the Kagera region in NW Tanzania. The plant nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in plant-based biomass and organic farm waste are under investigation. We used data from a farm household survey (150 households) and from focus group discussions with 22 trainers who had been training about 750 farm households in sustainable land management (SLM) at a local farmer field school. In total, we identified six farm household types and calculated a nutrient balance (NB) for the homegardens of each household type. The NB was calculated for the following five management scenarios: S0: business as usual; S1: the use of 80% of the available human urine; S2: the incorporation of 0.5 t yr−1 of the herbaceous legume species Crotalaria grahamiana into the soil; S3: the production of 5 m3 yr−1 CaSa-compost (human excreta and biochar) and its application on 600 m2 land; and S4: a combination of S1, S2, and S3. The results show that the NB varies considerably depending on whether farmers have implemented the SLM training, apply nutrient-preserving manure collection and storage methods, and purchase fodder (imported nutrients), or whether they do not collect manure or do not purchase fodder. Trained farm households are more likely to have a positive NB than untrained households because they have already improved the nutrient management of their farms through the successful implementation of SLM practices. Untrained households would improve the NB in their homegardens under all management scenarios. However, the NB depends on labour-intensive manure collection and compost production, labour shortages, prolonged dry seasons, and socio-economic imbalances. As long as these constraints remain, nutrient deficiencies will not be overcome with mineral fertilisers alone, because soils have to be further enriched with organic matter first. In this paper, we also emphasise the importance of the system boundary, because only a complete NB can give an estimate of actual nutrient removal and the resulting nutrient demand (including removals by fodder and trees). Further improvements in the SLM training may be achieved by (i) measuring the current nutrient status of soils, (ii) analysing the need for the coexistence of free-range livestock on the grassland and zero-grazing in trained households, and (iii) conducting an in-depth analysis of the socio-economic differences between successful and unsuccessful households. In conclusion, if smallholder farmers were to integrate further improved SLM training and optimised nutrient management (S1 to S4), we assume that the NB would turn positive. Last but not least, the SLM training by the farmer field school may serve as a best-practice example for training and policy recommendations made by government institutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transitioning to a Circular Economy with Sustainable Waste Management)
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Article
Upcycling Potential of Industrial Waste in Soil Stabilization: Use of Kiln Dust and Fly Ash to Improve Weak Pavement Subgrades Encountered in Michigan, USA
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7226; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177226 - 03 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 948
Abstract
The State of Michigan in the United States often encounters weak soil subgrades during its road construction and maintenance activities. Undercutting has been the usual solution, while a very few attempts of in-situ soil stabilization with cement or lime have been made. Compared [...] Read more.
The State of Michigan in the United States often encounters weak soil subgrades during its road construction and maintenance activities. Undercutting has been the usual solution, while a very few attempts of in-situ soil stabilization with cement or lime have been made. Compared to the large volume of weak soils that require improvement and the cost incurred on an annual basis, some locally available industrial byproducts present the potential to become effective soil subgrade stabilizers and a better solution from the sustainability perspective as well. The candidate industrial byproducts are Cement Kiln Dust (CKD), Lime Kiln Dust (LKD), and Fly Ash (FA), out of which only a fraction is currently used for any other secondary purposes while the rest is disposed of in Michigan landfills. This manuscript describes a laboratory investigation conducted on above industrial byproducts and/or their combinations to assess their suitability to be used as soil subgrade stabilizers in three selected weak soil types often found in Michigan. Results reveal that CKD or a combination of FA/LKD can be recommended for the long-term soil subgrade stabilization of all three soil types tested, while FA and LKD can be used in some soil types as a short-term soil stabilizer (for construction facilitation). A brief discussion is also presented at the end on the potential positive impact that can be made by the upcycling of CKD/LKD/FA on sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transitioning to a Circular Economy with Sustainable Waste Management)
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