Sustainability profile 21: Waste management

Waste industry sees integrated resource management as sole road to sustainability

Waste management will only become sustainable when it turns into resource management and when waste production and economic growth have been decoupled, says the International solid waste association (Iswa) in its report for the Unep sustainability series. The key obstacles to achieving such a transition lie outside the waste industry itself, it adds.

The four indispensable elements of sustainable waste management are: a waste hierarchy; waste planning; a regulatory frame work and enforcement of the law - according to Iswa, which represents companies involved in the management of sold municipal wastes. The hierarchy of most modern waste policies is prevention and minimisation; re-use and recycling; and environmentally safe treatment including disposal.

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