2014-03-28 12.48.15Waste management is a wicked problem: it is complex, there are many actors involved and, on top of this, it is never clear if and when it has been solved .

To tackle a wicked problem as if it were not usually generates even bigger problems; it is therefore necessary to know very well the system we are dealing with and to accept the complexity of the decision forming process that leads to solutions. Policy makers, who are in charge of implementing effective solutions, and citizens, that have to approve them and live together with the industrial plants and the thermal treatment plants that an efficient management requires, must have available all the tools that are useful to evaluate rationally and scientifically the pros and cons of the different possible technical alternatives. All actors must be able to understand the role that their community can play to reach an effective resources and waste management.

Waste management can not be entrusted only to the sum of individual behaviors, such as that of citizens that practice segregated collection aimed at recycling. Governance of waste management requires:

  • a strong engagement by public institutions to design feasible and effective solutions and put them into practice
  • the capability of the private sector to build and operate technologically complex plants
  • periodic public controls on the performance of plants and of all the management systems.

Where does the illusion of being able to solve the problems generated by the scraps of a massive industrial production without operating an industrial system of waste management, adequate to the complexity of what we discard, stems from? In this site several elements necessary to put in practice a successful management are discussed together and integrated:

  • the technical and technological elements that compose an integrated waste management system are presented
  • the importance of describing the waste network of actor is underlined
  • the synthesis of the results of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of integrated waste management systems are shown, discussing the changing of the environmental impacts with different infrastructural scenarios of waste management
  • the way the risk representation with respect to the plants that enter an infrastructurally complete system of waste management is discussed.

Dealing with waste management planning is it better to drop the generic term ‘citizens’, because what is needed is the acknowledgment of the main actors that must enter in a debate over the risk of an industrial installation, such as that of a thermal treatment plant. This way one can begin to observe their relative positions in the network and their capability to affect decisions. Among these waste network actors are:

  • great groups that can have an interest in showing that the risk, a community is interrogating itself about, is low: waste management and energy industries ; finance and banks;….
  • politicians that at the local, regional, and national level can affect the decision;
  • policy makers and technical personnel of controlling agencies (environment and health);
  • activists, either environmentalist or community members at all levels;
  • the workers of the sector;
  • resident in the proximity of plants and every person potentially impacted by the plant operation;
  • citizens aware of the impacts of the decision;
  • scientists and expert of the sector;
  • scientists and experts of other sectors;
  • the media personnel.