The current linear “take-make-dispose” economy has resulted in excessive use of resources and simultaneously increased burden on landfills. While waste management infrastructure in the UK is considered to be well developed, it is still insufficient to handle the continuously rising amount of solid waste generated. Organic waste (such as food waste and green waste) is a fraction of utmost importance because not only it contributes to carbon emissions and air and soil pollution when mismanaged, but they also represent a biological nutrient that if left unrecovered can lead to a massive value negation. Existing strategies for organic waste management are mainly targeting pollution prevention and recycling, placing little emphasis on the need to fundamentally improve resource efficiency. Furthermore, most of the existing treatment facilities for organic waste are running on marginal profits, relying on government subsidies to sustain their business, because products from anaerobic digestion such as digestate and biogas have low market value.
This research study will explore the environmental and economic impacts associated with organic waste management in England with an aim of developing a more sustainable strategy in treatment, recovery, valorisation and disposal. The research will map the flows of organic waste generated in England, placing emphasis on their management from a systems perspective. It will explore waste management system including prevention, reuse, recycling, recovery, valorisation and disposal, by employing a computational system modelling approach. Finally, the study will seek to conduct a holistic sustainability assessment of baseline and alternative management scenarios.