Integrated Waste Management (IWM) looks at the life cycle of municipal solid waste, from the moment it becomes waste (loses value) until it ceases to be waste by becoming a useful product, residual landfill material or an emission to air or water. Integrated Waste Management provides a more sustainable alternative to waste management than the widely used Waste Hierarchy.

The goal of a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) for solid waste is to be able, as accurately as possible, to predict the environmental burdens of an Integrated Waste Management (IWM) System.

The inputs for an integrated waste management system are waste, energy and other raw materials. The outputs from the system are useful energy, useful products in the form of reclaimed materials, compost, emissions to air and water and residual landfill material. A parallel model calculates the overall costs of the integrated waste management system based on local cost data.

  • Problems with the traditional Waste Hierarchy

    The Waste Hierarchy has little scientific or technical basis. There is no scientific reason, for example, why materials recycling should always be preferred to energy recovery.

    The hierarchy is of little use when a combination of options is used, as in an IWM system. In an IWM system, the hierarchy cannot predict, for example, whether composting combined with incineration of the residues would be preferable to materials recycling plus landfilling of residues. What is needed is an overall assessment of the whole system, which the Waste Hierarchy cannot provide.

    The Waste Hierarchy does not address costs. Therefore it cannot help assess the economic affordability of waste systems.

    Effective schemes need the flexibility to design, adapt and operate systems in ways which best meet current social, economic and environmental conditions. These are likely to change over time and vary by geography.

    The need for consistency in quality and quantity of recycled materials, compost or energy, the need to support a range of disposal options and the benefit of economies of scale, all suggest that integrated waste management should be organized on a large-scale, regional basis.

    Any scheme incorporating recycling, composting or waste-to-energy technologies must be market-orientated. There must be markets for products and energy.

  • How does the Integrated Solid Waste Management System work?

    How does the IWM system work?

    Practically, a IWM analysis consists of the following major activities:

    • Use the existing waste management strategy as the "Baseline scenario"
    • Compare the performance of different IWM strategies
    • Choose the optimum IWM strategy based on the needs of the local environment, economy and population

    System boundaries for the Environmental Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) of solid waste

    Once the waste management system has been described, the inputs and outputs of each chosen treatment process must be calculated, using fixed data for each process leading to a so-called Environmental Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) of waste. Results are expressed as: net energy consumption, air emissions, water emissions, landfill volume, recovered materials and compost produced.

    The LCI tool does not make the decisions but is a helpful tool to help the waste management decision making process.

    The methodology and case examples can be consulted via the listed scientific publications.

  • GARP: A Waste Success Story

    GARP (Global Asset Recovery Purchases) was initiated by P&G in 2007 with the target of zero waste going to landfill. By coordinating the data on solid waste streams and considering waste not as a problem but an opportunity, GARP was able to develop a system on each site to recycle or find alternate uses for solid waste. The goal is for P&G sites to move toward near zero waste to landfill by 2020. Within four years of the launch of GARP, sixteen sites had already achieved zero waste to landfill. In 2010, GARP was able to recycle over 10,000 tonnes of solid waste.
    See the case study on GARP.

  • Scientific publications authored or co-authored by P&G scientists

    • McDougall, F., and Fonteyne, J. (1999) Towards an integrated approach to waste management - the lessons learned from case studies of European waste management systems. International Directory of Solid Waste Management 1999/2000. The ISWA Yearbook. p. 16-26. Pub. James & James Ltd. London.
    • McDougall, F. (2000) LCA supports integrated approach to solid waste management systems. Local Authority Waste & Environment. Vol.8 Issue 5, pp. 10-11.
    • McDougall, F., and Hruska, J.P. (2000). The use of Life Cycle Inventory tools to support an integrated approach to solid waste management. Waste Management & Research. Vol. 18, No.6 pp. 590-594.
    • Davison, S., Bennett, P. and McDougall, F. (2000) Local authority decision making: LCI tools for solid waste management. Waste Management. September 2000, pp.17-20.
    • Ryu, Y.K., McDougall, F.R., Peng, C-G., Arakaki, T. and Ahn, J.W. (2000) Integrated Waste Management and the Tool of Life Cycle Inventory: A Route to Sustainable Waste Management for Asia. Korean Journal of LCA, Vol.2, No.2, pp. 41-48.
    • McDougall, F. (2001) Life Cycle Tools for Integrated Waste Management systems. Warmer Bulletin, No. 76, p 4.
    • Wilson, E., McDougall, F. and Willmore, J. (2001) Euro-trash: searching Europe for a more sustainable approach to waste management. Resources, Conservation and Recycling. Vol. 31, No. 4, pp327-346.
    • McDougall, F. (2001) Life Cycle Inventory tools: supporting the development of sustainable solid waste management systems. Corporate Environmental Strategy, Vol. 8, No.2, pp.142-147.
    • McDougall, F., White, P., Franke, M., and Hindle, P., (2001) Integrated Solid Waste Management: a Life Cycle Inventory. Published by Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-632-05889-7.
    • McDougall, F. (2001) "Recycling is best" is not always true. Recycling International, May 2001, No. 4. p. 3.
    • Nordone, A.J., White, P.R., McDougall, F.R., Parker, G.G, Garmendia, A-M. and Franke, M. (2002) Integrated Waste Management in Environmental And Ecological Sciences, Engineering And Technology Resources in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS) Developed under the Auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK, []
    • McDougall, F., Thomas, B. and Dryer, A. (2002) Life Cycle Assessment for sustainable solid waste management - an introduction. Wastes Management, May 2002, pp. 43-45.
    • McDougall, F. and Ryu, Y.K. (2002) The Role Of Landfill Within A Sustainable Solid Waste Management Strategy. Proceedings of the 2nd Asian Pacific Landfill Symposium. Seoul, Korea.
    • McDougall, F. and Anderson, D. (2003) The Development Of More Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems Using Life Cycle Tools Proceedings of International Solid Waste Association Annual Conference 2003, Melbourne, Australia.

The Head Line


Illustrations from P&G's Science-in-the-Box website can be used freely for educational, non-commercial purposes provided that the source will be published as follows: "Obtained from (P&G website)"


Top of page
Top of page