Integrated resource planning for urban waste management

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Resources, 2015, 4 (1), pp. 3 - 24
Issue Date:
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© 2015 by the authors, licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. The waste hierarchy currently dominates waste management planning in Australia. It is effective in helping planners consider options from waste avoidance or "reduction" through to providing infrastructure for landfill or other "disposal". However, it is inadequate for guiding context-specific decisions regarding sustainable waste management and resource recovery, including the ability for stakeholders to compare a range of options on an equal footing whilst considering their various sustainability impacts and trade-offs. This paper outlines the potential use of Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) as a decision-making approach for the urban waste sector, illustrated using an Australian case study. IRP is well established in both the water and energy sectors in Australia and internationally. It has been used in long-term planning enabling decision-makers to consider the potential to reduce resource use through efficiency alongside options for new infrastructure. Its use in the waste sector could address a number of the current limitations experienced by providing a broader context-sensitive, adaptive, and stakeholder focused approach to planning not present in the waste hierarchy and commonly used cost benefit analysis. For both efficiency and new infrastructure options IRP could be useful in assisting governments to make decisions that are consistent with agreed objectives while addressing costs of alternative options and uncertainty regarding their environmental and social impacts. This paper highlights various international waste planning approaches, differences between the sectors where IRP has been used and gives a worked example of how IRP could be applied in the Australian urban waste sector.
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