ISWA’s key messages on resource management

1. Sustainable waste management has a crucial role to play

  • ISWA believes that resource management is central to sustainable development and that the waste management sector has a crucial role to play in optimizing material and energy use within the circular economy. The circular economy is an opportunity for the waste management sector. It is a catalyst for new skills, innovation, knowledge and development; and will result in new technologies, business models and partnerships. To reach its potential, the waste management sector has to develop its own roadmap towards the circular economy, while recognizing the need for cross-sector collaboration.

2. Sustainable waste management provides more goods and less environmental impact

  • The waste management sector is already making a pivotal contribution to the field of sustainable materials and energy management, by providing secondary raw materials for production, carbon matter and nutrients for improving and fertilizing soil and carbon neutral energy for electricity production, heating, cooling and transportation. Hereby, the sector is significantly reducing the environmental impact associated with raw material extraction and production as well as reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. The waste management sector has the skills and knowledge needed to facilitate the drive to a circular economy throughout the value chain.

3. The first step starts with waste prevention

  • Effective waste prevention measures are key to resource efficiency and the circular economy. The waste management sector is already engaged in waste prevention initiatives, but the concept is not yet a fully integrated part of the waste management systems. Therefore, in order to support, facilitate and operate efficient and effective waste prevention initiatives, the waste management sector has to develop and integrate waste prevention activities, such as awareness training, feedback to designers and manufacturers as well as reuse and refurbishing, into the business models of the sector.

4. Technical challenges to closing the loop

  • Due to technological and scientific challenges, such as material deterioration and the lingering presence of hazardous substances, it is not possible to fully close the loops without substantial technological advances, which will take considerable time to reach. Meanwhile, the effective life of materials can be extended through optimal cascade utilisation before they are recovered for energy or finally disposed in a safe way.

5. Energy for the circular economy

  • The circular economy relies on energy as much as it does on material feedstock. Circular flows will always have a residual waste stream, either due to market conditions, technologies available or social barriers. This residual waste stream shall be considered as an important energy resource, along with the biodegradable fraction of municipal solid waste and industrial wastes.

6. Time for innovation and research

  • The successful emergence of the circular economy calls for research and development involving multiple disciplines, cross-sector technologies, economic considerations and the natural and social sciences. The work will find effective and viable means to overcome challenges and barriers on the road towards the circular economy as well as develop a robust systemic approach to the circular economy itself. The waste management sector's experience in developing and operating solutions for material and energy recovery as well as its everyday experience of facing the challenges of taking care of the residues of the linear economy will make a valuable contribution to this task.

7. Markets for materials

  • Well-functioning markets are crucial for sustainable resource management and the circular economy. The preconditions for such markets are well defined and commonly agreed quality standards, testing methods, trading conditions and dispute resolution mechanisms. Furthermore, trading systems and exchanges providing transparent and open trading information will reduce price volatility and transactions risk and make the trade more attractive and viable. The waste management sector, can together with the other actors in the value chain, support the establishment of such conditions and markets mechanisms.

8. Policies for resource management

  • There is a need for revised, consistent long-term policy, legal and fiscal frameworks to support the emerging circular economy and the development of sustainable resource management. Such frameworks have to supplement the supply-pushing material recovery targets in place today with incentives to create sound market demand for recovered materials. In addition, they have to secure an unbiased relation between virgin materials and new products on one side and recovered resources and refurbished products on the other, as well as foster research and development within the field of resource management and the circular economy.

9. Teamwork of actors

  • All actors in the value chain need to interact and be involved in the transition toward a circular economy – designers, producers, manufacturers, consumers, policy makers, and the waste management sector. The waste management sector wants to engage proactively with all actors along the value chain.

2015 September



ISWA World Congress 2015 in Antwerp, Belgium


On behalf of the city of Antwerp, Interafval and ISWA, Philip Heylen, Antwerp Vice Mayor and chairman of the ISWA 2015 organizing committee, is looking forward to welcoming you at the ISWA World Congress 2015 in Flanders, Belgium!

The results of the Flemish waste and resources policy are impressive. Many waste management companies are making the area around Antwerp, Europe's third largest port and the world's second-largest petrochemicals zone, a show-case of best practices and trend-setting technologies.
As a pocket-size metropolis, the city also has a lot to offer in terms of history, culture and gastronomy. The organizers, backed by the industry and in close cooperation with the Board of ISWA, aim to make this congress in Antwerp a memorable success.

The ISWA World Congress 2015 in Antwerp will guarantee a balanced mix of internationally renowned keynote speakers, representatives of institutions and agencies worldwide that determine waste and materials policy, interesting insights into the latest scientific and technological developments in the sector, and above all, a lot of opportunities for networking and exchange of experience.

If you would like to find out more, if you are interested in collaborating on our congress or if you are convinced that our congress is the ideal showcase for your business, please don't hesitate to contact us!
The ISWA 2015 committee invites authors to submit abstracts for presentation within any of the ISWA themes. Submissions are welcome for oral and online poster presentations.

Please note the deadline for abstract submission is 9am 11 December 2014 GMT!
Abstracts must be submitted online via .

2016 September


Novi Sad, Serbia

ISWA WORLD CONGRESS 2016, Novi Sad, Serbia

ISWA World Congress 2016

ISWA World Congress 2016 will be hosted by Serbia and will take place in Novi Sad. SeSWA (Serbian Solid Waste Association) have started with the promotion campaign of the ISWA World Conference 2016.

The official promo video can be seen on the website .


Lead author: Antonis Mavropoulos, ISWA STC Chair
Contribution from David Newman, ISWA President
The report has been prepared as a part of ISWA’s Scientific and Technical Committee Work Program 2014 - 2015.

Dumpsites are a global problem. They receive roughly 40% of the world’s waste and they serve about 3.5 - 4 billion people. The 50 biggest dumpsites affect the daily lives of 64 million people, a population the size of France.
As urbanization and population growth will continue, it is expected that at least several hundreds of millions more people will be served by dumpsites, mainly in the developing world.
Although there is a lack of systematic long-term epidemiological studies that fully document the health impacts from dumpsites, the existing scientific evidence demonstrates very important health risks.

The health problems associated with dumpsites are related to their emissions, which usually involve POPs (persistent organic pollutants), heavy metals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
The actual health risks depend on the practices followed and on the type of the waste disposed of in each dumpsite, as well as on the environmental and social conditions of the area. Open burning and animal feeding increase the health risks substantially, the first by direct emissions of dangerous pollutants and the second by transferring the pollutants to the food chain.
Uncontrolled disposal of hazardous and healthcare waste as well as manual on-site treatment and disposal of e-waste by informal workers result in important increases of all the health risks and the negative environmental impacts.

ISWA calls upon international organizations, governments and local authorities to develop emergency programs that will identify the riskiest dumpsites and proceed with their closure.
ISWA considers the closure of the dumpsites as a global health emergency and it will work closely with all the involved stakeholders to accelerate programs, initiatives and investments that will result in a world free of dumpsites.
The report starts with facts and figures regarding dumpsites in the modern world. Then a conceptual framework for dumpsites is presented and their main characteristics are discussed. The main part of the report presents the scientific evidence for health risks from dumpsites, the impact on workers, informal recyclers and nearby residents and the factors affecting the extend of those impacts.

A note of economic valuation of the health impacts is also included in order to highlight the importance and the difficulties involved in such an analysis. Finally, the report closes with some conclusions and recommendations for further research.

More information: .


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