Managing the world’s waste and why it should be a global political priority

The management of waste on a global scale is the subject of a new report Global Waste Management Outlook which Dr Costas Velis, from Civil Engineering, and his team played a key role in producing.

Requested by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) governing council, GWMO presents a global outlook of the challenges, trends and policies relating to waste prevention, minimisation and management. It links to the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. 

As well as being part of the core author team, Dr Velis was co-author of a chapter looking at the global status of waste management. “I had the pleasure of contributing in areas of my expertise, such as the global picture, marine litter, technologies for resource recovery from waste, and circular economy aspects,” says Dr Velis. “My additional role in the core author team was that of the overall academic advisor, ensuring scientific rigour.”

“GWMO is not just a comprehensive account, but also a call for action to international decision makers. Our objective is that the international community will welcome GWMO, making sound management of solid waste a key priority in the new millennium, and delivering tangible societal and environmental benefits, especially for the least developed parts of our planet.”

Speaking about why this report is so important, Dr Velis says: “Release of the first ever GWMO is a milestone for the waste and resource management sector, and I am extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to this achievement. For the first time we managed to look around the planet and compare how solid waste is managed across the entire spectrum of socioeconomic and environmental development, from the poorest to the most affluent. Working to fulfil the mandate of UNEP was a great pleasure, but also a major challenge – having to coordinate with experts dispersed around the world!”

Dr Velis lectures in Resource Efficiency Systems at the University, and coordinates a recently established network on Circular Economy and Resource Recovery (CERRY) as part of the Cities and Sustainable Societies Theme. He serves on many international initiatives, including the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) Globalisation and Waste Management Task Force, and chairs the scientific committee of the Waste Atlas Partnership.

The GWMO report can be found on the UNEP website.