Best Practices in Urban Solid Waste Management

Cover of Best Practices in Urban Solid Waste Management

Ownership, Governance, and Drivers of Performance in a Zero Waste Framework



Table of contents

(10 chapters)

Public service provision in the European Union has received great attention in the last decades. Waste management is among the most important public services and challenges for a sustainable world owing to its impact on the environment, economic development, human health, and equity. Throughout Europe, along with the circular economy, the related zero waste (ZW) framework is also rapidly spreading. This introduction provides information about research questions and methodology used to discuss the most relevant and critical issues for good management of waste service provision under the ZW framework.


This chapter provides an overview of waste management across Europe. It offers an outlook of evolution of waste generation and how European Union (EU) countries treat waste, by providing historical and current data as well as by describing a few best practices of waste management companies and municipalities throughout Europe. The circular economy framework applied to urban waste management and the zero waste strategy are described.


The chapter will describe the genealogy of the international social movement “Zero Waste (ZW)” and highlights its role of cultural, organizational, and scientific reference point for the waste management, in particular the public one in Italy. The chapter proposes to interpret ZW as a part of a wider social movement on “common goods” that in Italy proposed a radical critics of the neoliberal governance of local public services. The climax of this movement was the referendum of 2011, when 27 millions of Italian citizens voted against the privatization of waste, water, and transport management at an urban level. By door-to-door recycling, composting of community, pay as you throw system (PAYT), reuse centers, and environmental communication, ZW movement succeeded to create an apparatus of driver concepts for the management of waste. In particular, some of the proposed case studies were the actors that implemented the ZW strategy findings on the territory, experimenting new organizational and social practices aimed at increasing recycle and at converting the local economy into a circular one.


Chapter 3 discusses existing management models and corporate governance best practices for waste management firms. It provides some relevant experiences across Europe. It offers a focus on the ongoing remunicipalization process in the public service provision and urban waste management.


Chapter 4 focuses on how can we best measure and compare performance of waste management companies, discussing the triple bottom line perspective as a driving approach for public service provision like urban waste management. This approach contributes to extend relevant performance dimensions, broadening its scope to encompass not only cost and efficiency in waste collection and treatment but also environmental and social implications.


Chapter 5 deals with key drivers allowing waste management systems to meet circular economy goals, targeting a zero waste approach aimed at eliminating waste and changing the concept of waste into secondary materials. Case studies around Europe highlighted conditions and drivers of sustainable urban solid waste management systems; innovation, responsibility, stakeholder engagement, and knowledge sharing are factors enabling effective and viable urban waste management.


The chapter illustrates the relationships between concepts, theories, and processes presented so far in the book.

The cases explored show how this model can be recognized first and foremost in publicly owned waste operators linked to the territory where the service is provided. The content that justifies and legitimizes their presence is that of the integral recovery of materials through the zero waste strategy.

Innovation, responsibility, stakeholder engagement, and knowledge sharing have been highlighted as the four key drivers of sustainable urban waste management. These drivers reciprocally reinforce each other in a virtuous exploitation system that generates a positive circular path of new managerial and technical resources and competencies, and new responsibility schemes shared among managers, policymakers, employees, and users.

Further, each key driver impacts the economic, environmental, and social performance of urban waste operators, increasing the overall impact and strengthening the effect of the other drivers in a virtuous exploitation of benefits for waste operators and stakeholders beyond the served territory.

Cover of Best Practices in Urban Solid Waste Management
Publication date