Unlocking system transitions for municipal solid waste infrastructure: A model for mapping interdependencies in a local context

Zhaowen Liu*, Daan Schraven, Martin de Jong, Marcel Hertogh

*Corresponding author for this work

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Rapid global urbanization, urban renewal and changes in people's lifestyles have led to both an increase in waste generation and more complex waste types. In response to these changes, many local governments have invested in municipal solid waste infrastructure (MSWI) to implement circular strategies. However, matching and bridging the costly and logistically complex MSWI with the dynamic social context is a central challenge. In this paper we aim to explore the interdependencies between MSWI and the local social system, and then conceptualize and empirically validate the systemic nature of MSWI. We first review the current MSW treatment methods, corresponding infrastructure, and the challenges facing them. Then, we interrogate system-oriented concepts and use two key insights to set up a conceptual model for mapping the interdependencies in a MSWI system (MSWIS). Finally, a case study of the Dutch city of Almere is used to empirically validate the MSWIS model and identify the social systems that contribute to the development of the MSWIS. The analysis reveals that the development of MSWIS is beyond the municipality's control: efficient resource recovery facilities established by businesses under market rules and waste reuse facilities constructed by social organizations/individuals based on their own needs are key pieces of the puzzle to complete the MSWIS. This highlights the ability of the framework to capture interdependencies that go further than just the formal municipal sphere of influence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107180
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) [grant number 482.19.608 ]; and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) [grant number 72061137071 ]. This research also received support from the Erasmus Initiative for the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity (DoIP). Special thanks to the Municipality of Almere for their participation and support of our research.

Publisher Copyright: © 2023 The Author(s)


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