Special Issue "Transitioning to a Circular Economy with Sustainable Waste Management"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2021).
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.
Figure 1. The material flow in the current economy that is only 9% circular .
- 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_
- 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
- Circle Economy. The Circularity Gap Report 2020; Circle Economy, 2020. https://www.circularity-gap.world/2020
Prof. Dr. Hiroshan Hettiarachchi
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- waste management
- environmental resources
- circular economy
- waste policy
- recycling and recovery
- sustainable development goals