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Innovative Approaches toward Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Air, Water, Food, and Waste Treatment

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 21823

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Institute for Environmental Research, Yonsei University, Seoul 03722, Republic of Korea
Interests: circular economy; conservation and recycling; drinking water management; environmental engineering; environment science; environmental remediation; life cycle assessment; nature-based solutions; public health; risk assessment; sanitation and hygiene; sustainability; waste management; water and wastewater treatment
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The provision of safety is one of the most important elements in the management of environmental sustainability. As an example, the emergence of COVID-19 as a global pandemic demonstrated a high universal demand for a more accurate management of major environmental elements, such as air, water, food, and waste to provide a healthy and sustainable environment.

Accordingly, this Special Issue, which is proposed for the “Environmental Sustainability and Applications” section of the journal Sustainability, aims to collect recent, innovative theoretical and practical management approaches toward the provision of a safe and sustainable environment.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Air pollution: identification, measurement, treatment;
  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene for all: the concept of “Leave No One Behind”;
  • Provision of food on the way toward zero hunger;
  • Water, energy, and food security nexus;
  • Exposure and risk assessment;
  • Nature-based solutions;
  • Clean technologies;
  • Circular economy;
  • New policies;
  • Any other relevant topics (should be consulted with the editor).

Priority will be given to research conducted in developing countries. In their cover letter, authors should mention to which of the fields below their study corresponds. The “Instructions for Authors” provided by the journal Sustainability should be carefully followed by the authors to prepare their submissions. This Special Issue strictly follows the policies of the journal Sustainability regarding submission, the reviewing process, and publication.

I look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Shervin Hashemi
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2400 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

  • air pollution
  • circular economy
  • clean technologies
  • drinking water
  • food security
  • nature-based solutions
  • risk assessment
  • sustainable sanitation

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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22 pages, 1051 KiB  
Article
Practices to Improve the Sustainability of Australian Cold Storage Facilities
by Angus McLay, Gavin Morant, Kelilah Breisch, John Rodwell and Scott Rayburg
Sustainability 2024, 16(11), 4584; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16114584 - 28 May 2024
Viewed by 382
Abstract
With the ever-increasing threat of climate change and global warming, ways to make energy intensive buildings, such as cold storage warehouses essential for food preservation, more sustainable need to be found. Some refrigerated warehouse owners may be unaware or unsure of the benefits [...] Read more.
With the ever-increasing threat of climate change and global warming, ways to make energy intensive buildings, such as cold storage warehouses essential for food preservation, more sustainable need to be found. Some refrigerated warehouse owners may be unaware or unsure of the benefits obtainable from implementing sustainable practices and technologies. To search for innovations that could inform the owners and managers of cold storage warehouses about how to enhance their sustainability, convergent interviewing of subject matter experts was conducted. The resulting practices and processes were organized into a hierarchy that ranged from essential to best practices that can be implemented to improve the sustainability of refrigerated warehouses. Examples of these practices and technologies include ideal refrigeration systems, racking methods, and insulation types. To encourage the use of sustainable practices and technologies, more reporting on successful or unsuccessful applications of practices and technologies needs to be communicated. Applying change diagnostic tools such as convergent interviewing enables a practical and industry focused set of outcomes to be determined that can help drive change towards more sustainable cold storage warehouses in Australia. Full article
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21 pages, 7283 KiB  
Article
Nature-Based Solutions for Optimizing the Water–Ecosystem–Food Nexus in Mediterranean Countries
by Silvia Vanino, Valentina Baratella, Tiziana Pirelli, Donato Ferrari, Antonella Di Fonzo, Fabrizio Pucci, Nikolaos P. Nikolaidis, Maria A. Lilli, Zübeyde Albayram Doğan, Tuncay Topdemir, Sami Awabdeh, Luna Al-Hadidi, Nabeel Bani Hani, Andreas Panagopoulos, Vassilios Pisinaras, Anna Chatzi, Estrella López, Christina Papadaskalopoulou, Dimitris Tassopoulos, Efstathia Chatzitheodorou, Alessandro Pagano, Raffaele Giordano, Ivan Portoghese, Esteban Henao, Anna Osann and Stefano Fabianiadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Sustainability 2024, 16(10), 4064; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16104064 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 1315
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBSs), defined as actions that work with and enhance nature, providing environmental, social, and economic benefits, play a pivotal role in accomplishing multiple objectives within the Water–Ecosystem–Food Nexus domain. They contribute to facilitating the transition to more resilient agrifood systems and [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBSs), defined as actions that work with and enhance nature, providing environmental, social, and economic benefits, play a pivotal role in accomplishing multiple objectives within the Water–Ecosystem–Food Nexus domain. They contribute to facilitating the transition to more resilient agrifood systems and providing an evidence base for a broader Nexus policy dialogue. This paper describes the stepwise methodology developed in the EU-funded LENSES project to carry out a comprehensive analysis of NBSs in six pilot areas in five Mediterranean countries and presents the results of NBS implementation in four pilot areas, highlighting obstacles and opportunities. The methodology includes the development of an analytical evaluation framework and a comprehensive catalogue of Nexus-related NBSs, whose suitability needs to be assessed at the local level to achieve better use of protected/natural ecosystems, increase the sustainability and multifunctionality of managed ecosystems, and design and manage novel ecosystems. Subsequently, in a collective learning process that supported the operationalisation of the WEF Nexus, NBSs were identified that address specific contextual vulnerabilities, improve water distribution, and enhance food security while preserving ecosystems and supporting adaptation to climate change. The added value of the proposed methodology lies in the multi-stakeholder participatory approach to gain in-depth knowledge of local agri-food systems, including their main WEF-related challenges, and to facilitate overcoming barriers to NBS implementation. Finally, a final survey was conducted among a small group of purposively selected stakeholders to gain some insight into their perceptions of the impact of NBS and to gather some opinions on the main barriers and opportunities. Full article
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29 pages, 10514 KiB  
Article
Sectoral Assessment of the Energy, Water, Waste and Land Nexus in the Sustainability of Agricultural Products in Cameroon
by Boris Abeli Pekarou Pemi, Donatien Njomo, René Tchinda, Jean Calvin Seutche, Armel Zambou Kenfack, Mahamat Hassane Babikir and Venant Sorel Chara-Dackou
Sustainability 2024, 16(2), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16020565 - 9 Jan 2024
Viewed by 930
Abstract
To ensure sustainable production and consumption in the agricultural sector, it is necessary to assess the contribution of each element of the nexus in the agricultural production chain. The aim of this study is to make a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the [...] Read more.
To ensure sustainable production and consumption in the agricultural sector, it is necessary to assess the contribution of each element of the nexus in the agricultural production chain. The aim of this study is to make a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the contributions of each element of the energy, water, waste and land nexus to agricultural products. A composite method approach combining aspects based on an input–output model and location quotient (LQ) as well as competitive position is adopted. A database of nexus elements over a period from 2009 to 2018 is used for Cameroon, with ten regions considered. The results show proportions of around 0.42% energy, 67.88% water withdrawal, 11.91% harvested area and 97.81% waste for agricultural products. The geolocation of harvested areas shows that the largest portion is in the far north (1,373,829 ha) and the smallest is in Adamawa (224,038 ha). Maximum production is in the central region (4,334,095 tons) and the minimum is in the Adamawa region (915,841 tons). The central, littoral and west regions are more representative of agricultural products. The analysis of the competitive position of agricultural products contributes to a better orientation of national strategies for agricultural sustainability according to the existing potentials. Full article
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26 pages, 5053 KiB  
Article
A User-Friendly and Sustainable Toilet Based on Vermicomposting
by Fernando Alonso-Marroquin, Ghulam Qadir, Jad Nazha, Vanessa Pino and Arianna Brambilla
Sustainability 2023, 15(16), 12593; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151612593 - 19 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1677
Abstract
Environmental awareness has sparked increasing interest in changing the way humans interact with their environment. This awareness includes the change in paradigm of considering human manure (humanure) not as a waste but as a valuable bioproduct instead. In this regard, composting is an [...] Read more.
Environmental awareness has sparked increasing interest in changing the way humans interact with their environment. This awareness includes the change in paradigm of considering human manure (humanure) not as a waste but as a valuable bioproduct instead. In this regard, composting is an age-old technique for nutrient recovery that has gained renewed interest, as it may be a sanitary and financially viable solution to closing the loop of human–nature interactions. This work investigates environmental solutions for toilet systems that are user-friendly and sustainable based on systems that filter nutrients via vermicomposting. The methodology is based on (1) reviewing several surveys across different continents to select the most appropriate interface of a targeted society, and (2) investigating the microbial dynamics of vermicomposting. The microbial activity was compared with the activity of the aerobic composting systems by measuring soil temperature, soil composition, decomposition rate, stabilization factor, and biological diversity. The microbial decomposition process in vermicomposting was faster due to the presence of earthworms, but the increase in temperature and volatile ammonia led to the earthworms burrowing into the soil. Overall, the flush toilet is still the most socially accepted toilet interface, and the connection of vermicomposting to this toilet interface poses challenges in managing high ammonia content and maintaining healthy conditions for the earthworm population. Full article
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13 pages, 291 KiB  
Article
Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices toward Plastic Pollution among Malaysians: Implications for Minimizing Plastic Use and Pollution
by Ka Ker Coco Chin, Janardan Mahanta and Tapan Kumar Nath
Sustainability 2023, 15(2), 1164; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15021164 - 8 Jan 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 8364
Abstract
Excessive production, consumption, and indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste contribute to plastic pollution, which has a negative impact on the environment and human health. The KAP (knowledge, attitude, and practices) study is thought to be useful in mitigating plastic pollution because understanding the [...] Read more.
Excessive production, consumption, and indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste contribute to plastic pollution, which has a negative impact on the environment and human health. The KAP (knowledge, attitude, and practices) study is thought to be useful in mitigating plastic pollution because understanding the public’s knowledge, attitude, and practices toward plastic pollution can help identify problems and challenges, allowing appropriate policy decisions to be made to set up plans or implement interventions. This study assesses Malaysians’ level of knowledge, attitude, and practices toward plastic pollution, as well as the variation of plastic pollution related to KAP among various socio-demographic groups. For this study, an online survey received 294 valid responses. Descriptive statistics, KAP scoring, and response cross-tabulation were calculated. This study received 294 valid responses via an online survey. Descriptive statistics, KAP scoring, and response cross-tabulation were estimated. A one-way analysis of variance, paired t-test, and binary logistic regressions was performed. Respondents’ overall knowledge score (95% CI mean score: 3.88–10.94 on a scale of 11) and practice score (95% CI 1.09–6.53 on a scale of 6) were poor across socio-demographics when a cut point of 80% was used. Older (>46 years) respondents seemed to have more knowledge than younger (18–30 years) respondents (odds ratio, OR 4.304; p < 0.01). However, respondents between the ages of 31 and 45 reported significantly (p < 0.01) higher attitudes (OR 4.019) and practices (OR 4.056; p < 0.05). Respondents with environmental-related university education had a higher likelihood of knowing about plastic pollution (OR 10.343; p < 0.01). To encourage good practices toward minimizing plastic use and pollution, conclusions are drawn about undertaking interventions such as raising environmental awareness, incorporating plastic pollution topics into formal and informal education, and providing recycling facilities in nearby communities. Full article
8 pages, 246 KiB  
Article
Analysis of the Environmental and Economic Effect of the Co-Processing of Waste in the Cement Industry in Korea
by Dowan Kim and Chaegun Phae
Sustainability 2022, 14(23), 15820; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142315820 - 28 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1551
Abstract
Recently, the amount of waste generated in Korea has been increasing, and there have been difficulties disposing of it. As an energy-intensive and raw-materials-oriented industry, the cement industry is facing challenges including overcoming the climate crisis and achieving carbon neutrality. Co-processing was suggested [...] Read more.
Recently, the amount of waste generated in Korea has been increasing, and there have been difficulties disposing of it. As an energy-intensive and raw-materials-oriented industry, the cement industry is facing challenges including overcoming the climate crisis and achieving carbon neutrality. Co-processing was suggested as a solution, but the environmental effects of this have not been specifically studied in Korea. In this study, the effects of using alternative resources (limestone, silica stone, iron ore, and gypsum) and fuel on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the cement industry in Korea were analyzed. GHGs generated from mineral mining were compared to GHGs of alternative resources. The reduction in GHGs by using alternative fuel was calculated via the amount of heat from waste instead of that from bituminous coal. Co-processing can reduce approximately 106.9 kg of CO2 in one ton of cement. The cost savings were estimated to be about USD 3815 million. In addition, the lifespans of landfills would be extended by 7.55 years. Full article
20 pages, 4910 KiB  
Article
Determination of the Risk on Human Health of Heavy Metals Contained by Ship Source Bilge and Wastewater Discharged to the Sea on the Mediterranean by Monte Carlo Simulation
by Ömer Harun Özkaynak, Gönül Tuğrul İçemer and Hasan Merdun
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8408; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148408 - 8 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2162
Abstract
Discharge of bilge and wastewater from ships into the sea poses a risk to human health due to the heavy metals. In this study, shipborne bilgewater and wastewater carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic human health risks determine by using the measured and literature values of [...] Read more.
Discharge of bilge and wastewater from ships into the sea poses a risk to human health due to the heavy metals. In this study, shipborne bilgewater and wastewater carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic human health risks determine by using the measured and literature values of heavy metals copper, iron, vanadium, chromium, manganese, cobalt, nickel, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury in the shipborne bilgewater and wastewater. The heavy metal contents of seawater were selected from 11 points determined in Antalya Bay, wastewater, and bilge samples taken from two ships. The human health risk was determined using the Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) method using these measured values and the heavy metal concentrations in the Mediterranean Sea in the literature. The risk of carcinogenicity of heavy metals from wastewater by dermal route, ingestion, and from bilge water by dermal way and ingestion were evaluated. The wastewater is dermal Ni > As > Cr, the wastewater is Ni > Cr > As by ingestion, the dermal Ni > As > Cr in the bilge, and the risk of ingestion is Ni > Cr > As. It has been determined that the non-carcinogenic Cr, Co, Hg, and As values in the wastewater and bilge water are above the acceptable 1 and therefore expose a risk to human health. The human health carcinogenic risk caused by heavy metals generating from the bilge and wastewater is much higher than the standard values determined by the WHO. For the first time in this study, it was determined that bilge water exposes a high risk for both swimmers and ship personnel in the health risk assessment of shipborne wastewater and bilge water. Full article
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Review

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13 pages, 432 KiB  
Review
Definition of Food Consumption, Loss, and Waste
by Arkalgud Ramaprasad and Shwetmala Kashyap
Sustainability 2024, 16(11), 4846; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16114846 - 6 Jun 2024
Viewed by 381
Abstract
The global food system has three recognized challenges: (a) increasing the availability of food for consumption; (b) reducing food loss; and (c) reducing food waste. The increasing demand for food for consumption, the increasing quantity of food loss, and the corresponding increase in [...] Read more.
The global food system has three recognized challenges: (a) increasing the availability of food for consumption; (b) reducing food loss; and (c) reducing food waste. The increasing demand for food for consumption, the increasing quantity of food loss, and the corresponding increase in food waste are resulting in serious health, aesthetic, social, economic, and environmental problems due to a lack of appropriate planning and management. Despite its importance, there is no clear, concise, and comprehensive definition of food consumption, loss, and waste. Generally, food consumption, food loss, and food waste are dealt with separately. This article presents a logically constructed ontological framework of food consumption, loss, and waste. It gives equal importance to all three aspects of global food management. The systemic ontological framework is general, and the analysis can be applied to any country. The framework deconstructs the combinatorial complexity of the problem and explicates the pathways to manage the consumption, loss, and waste. The ontological framework encapsulates 19 × 11 × 7 × 4 × 6 = 35,112 possible components of the challenge. A critical analysis based on available data using the framework will help to develop strategies to deal with the problem. It can help us to discover the gaps and to find ways to bridge the gaps. It is a novel way to conceptualize food consumption, loss, and waste together. Full article
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32 pages, 2709 KiB  
Review
Advancements in PET Packaging: Driving Sustainable Solutions for Today’s Consumer Demands
by Beenu Raj, Jitin Rahul, Pramod K. Singh, Velidandi V. L. Kanta Rao, Jagdish Kumar, Neetu Dwivedi, Pravita Kumar, Diksha Singh and Karol Strzałkowski
Sustainability 2023, 15(16), 12269; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151612269 - 11 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3550
Abstract
This work provides an overview of the importance of recycling PET waste to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste, conserve natural resources and energy, and create jobs in the recycling industry. Many countries have implemented regulations and initiatives to promote the recycling [...] Read more.
This work provides an overview of the importance of recycling PET waste to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste, conserve natural resources and energy, and create jobs in the recycling industry. Many countries have implemented regulations and initiatives to promote the recycling of PET waste and reduce plastic pollution, such as extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems, bans on certain single-use plastics, and deposit–return systems for plastic bottles. The article further underscores the versatility of recycled PET, as it can be transformed into various products such as fibers, sheets, film, and strapping. These recycled materials find applications in numerous sectors including clothing, carpets, upholstery, and industrial fibers. Recognizing the importance of collaboration among governments, industries, and individuals, we emphasize the need for sustainable PET waste management practices and the promotion of recycled materials. The article also provides information on India’s experiences with PET waste management and regulations in other countries. It is important to note that the global production and consumption of PET have increased significantly in recent years, with the packaging industry being the largest consumer of PET. This has resulted in a significant increase in the generation of PET waste, which poses a significant environmental and health hazard if not managed properly. PET waste can end up in landfills, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose, or it can end up in the oceans, where it can harm marine life and the environment. Therefore, the proper management and recycling of PET waste are essential to mitigate these negative impacts. In terms of India’s experiences with PET waste management, several initiatives have been implemented to promote the recycling of PET waste. For example, the government has launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign, which aims to promote cleanliness and sanitation in the country to promote waste segregation and recycling. Full article
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