Aim Texas Approach to Waste Management

The main purpose of waste management is to supply a service, specifically to remove waste from the human habitat to ensure hygienic living conditions. Today, waste management meets hygienic requirements so well and as a matter of course that the public does not perceive the need for this service except in emergencies. In parallel with increasing production and consumption, the growing need and role for waste management as a “filter” between human activities and the environment became apparent, resulting in the development of safe and reliable technologies such as modern collection systems, transport/transfer, material recovery facilties (MRFs), biological treatment facilities (composting, incinerators, and sanitary landfills).

An integrative regulatory approach is needed that encompasses not only the technical and environmental but also the political, social, financial, economic, and institutional elements (enabling framework options) of waste management if environmental protection is to be realized.

Three overarching principles guides the preparation of this integrated waste management strategy, which are:

  1. Sustainability;
  2. Regional Cooperation and integration to regional waste market;
  3. Fiscal Responsibility (FR).
  1. Sustainability: solid waste as a resource that should be managed to promote economic vitality, ecological integrity, and improved quality of life in a way that fosters sustainability. The primary aim of sustainable solid waste management is to address concerns related to public health, environmental pollution, land use, resource management and socio-economic impacts associated with improper disposal and treatment of waste.
  2. Regional Cooperation and integration to regional waste market is vital for a country or region as the lack of economies of scale and capabilities of local industrial infrastructures are also very important to achieve the sustainability in the operations. This corresponds to regional cooperation that seeks cooperation opportunities in immediate vicinity of any waste shed in order to provide integration to regional waste market and cooperation that will seek cooperation opportunities.
  3. Fiscal Responsibility: Fiscal policy is one of the instruments for the achievement of sustainable solid waste management. Taxes, environmental/municipal fees, service fees (user charges), and subsidies are the key elements of the fiscal policy. Policy instruments based on economic incentives also influence the behaviour of producers and consumers towards a more sustainable waste management.

Implementing an integrated solid waste management system requires long-term commitment, collaboration, and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. It’s a dynamic process that should evolve with changing circumstances and emerging waste management challenges. Integrated Sustainable Solid Waste Management (ISSWM) theory recognizes three key components: the stakeholders affected by or engaged in waste management, physical or practical elements of the waste management system and an array of the aspects that directly affect waste management including political and cultural influences.

In the strategic planning process, the Aim Texas consultants use a model to transform the SWM organization in a country from its present position to the desired position as described by the objectives, subject to the constraints of the capabilities and the potential of the solid waste management organizations. The model specifically stresses on two concepts, which are:

  • Evaluation of the differences (gaps) between the current position of the system and its objectives; and
  • The idea that the system must seek a centrally organized product-market posture and market diversification in waste management with a capability-based participatory approach, the combined performance of which is greater than the sum of its parts.
Implementing an integrated solid waste management

Waste Hierarchy

Globally, most countries of the world have adopted the waste hierarchy as a key principle for their solid waste systems.  The focus of the waste hierarchy is to prioritize activities that eventually lead to minimizing the need for land disposal.  Most often the Waste Hierarchy is shown by using a pyramid.

  • Reduce – reduction of the amount of waste being generated

at the source of possible waste generation and reduction of

the hazardous content of waste, by improved principles of

“green” manufacturing by industries. 

  • Reuse – reuse of a material or product at the source of possible

waste generation, rather than wasting it, by concepts

such a product stewardship by manufacturers, waste exchanges

between manufacturers, and industrial use of recyclables

as manufacturing feedstock.

  • Recycling – processing waste commodity materials, such as paper,

plastic and metal, by mechanical techniques such as sorting belts,

screens, magnetic separators, air classifiers.

  • Resource Recovery – making new resources from waste, by techniques

such as: gasification to synthetic fuel, biological digestion to biogas,

aerobic decomposition to compost and incineration to electricity.

Waste Hierarchy

Recycling, the most preferred technical option environmentally, leads to substantial natural resource savings.  This includes conserving petroleum, as recycling saves on the inherent energy of a material that has become produced through mining, planting, processing, transporting, and/or manufacturing.  Some examples of the natural resource savings include:

  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 16 trees, 2 barrels of oil, 4100 kW of electricity, 1 cubic meter of land disposal space, and 27 kg of air pollution. Recycling half the world’s paper could save 9 million hectares of forest.
  • Recycling 1 ton of aluminum saves about 40 barrels of oil, thereby conserving 95% of the energy needed to make aluminum cans from virgin bauxite ore, and produces 97% less water pollution.
  • Producing 1 ton of recycled rubber requires only 29% of the energy required to produce a ton of rubber from virgin materials.
  • Recycling glass reduces silica mining waste by 70%, water use by 50%, and air pollution by 20%.
  • Producing steel cans from recycled steel requires only 25% of the energy needed to produce it from virgin steel, and results in only 25% of the water and air pollution.
  • Recycling 1 million cell phones recovers 16,000 kg of copper, 320 kg of silver, 34 kg of gold, and 15 kg of palladium.

Overarching Principles of Integrated Sustainable Solid Waste Management (ISSWM)

The key principles for development of the ISSWM strategy are:

  • Using an integrated waste management approach that seeks to optimize the cost-effectiveness of the solid waste activities as an integrated system from collection to disposal;
  • Using a holistic perspective that looks at the whole life of equipment and facilities and total costs to maintain, operate and use them, and also looks at closure and post-closure costs. In this holistic perspective, natural resource consumption, emissions, and energy demand for every activity along the chain of solid waste activities are considered;
  • Accepting the waste hierarchy and its 4 R’s of waste reduction, reuse, recycling and resource recovery as priority steps to minimize land disposal;
  • Adopting the polluter-pays-principle coupled with an appreciation for the ability-to-pay of various waste generators in developing cost recovery concepts;
  • Optimizing economies-of-scale through defining waste processing and landfilling systems;
  • Outlining enabling frameworks of supportive laws, institutions, financing, economic instruments, social inclusion, and private sector participation; and
  • Assessing the full array of possible environmental, social, and health impacts for optimization of choices and inclusion of mitigation measures.