Materials Management

​​Solid waste has traditionally been measured, understood, and managed in terms of the weight of waste materials. However, the environmental effects of waste materials arise not from their weight but their life cycle impacts – all the resources used and pollution generated when those materials are created, used and (finally) disposed or recycled.

The ​Waste Impact Calculator is a model that bridges these two perspectives

  • As input, it takes traditional weight-based data about solid waste materials and their end-of-life destinations (e.g. 10 tons of food waste going to landfill, or 5 tons of steel going to recycling).

  • As output, it generates estimated life cycle impacts for those materials, in more than a dozen impact categories including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and water use.

It also allows the user to experiment with different scenarios for managing waste, for example “increasing recycling" or “reducing food waste," and see how impacts would change.

For more information on how to access the calculator, contact Martin Brown, Goals and Measures Specialist.

Example Output: ​Waste and Recovery Rates and Water Consumption Impact

Click on image for larger view.

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