Waste hierarchy index for circular economy in waste management.


MARE, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Campus de Caparica, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal. Electronic address: [Email]


The aim of current European Union waste management directives is to promote prevention of waste and the application of a waste management hierarchy: preparing for reuse, recycling, other recovery, and disposal. The Waste Framework Directive only measures the waste operations recycling, incineration, and landfill individually, not measuring the implementation of the waste hierarchy principle in Member States of the European Union. The present study proposes a waste hierarchy index (WHI) to measure the waste hierarchy within a circular economy context, applied to municipal solid waste. In developing the WHI, recycling and preparing for reuse, as defined by Eurostat, were considered as positive contributors to the circular economy, and incineration and landfill as negative contributors. The WHI was applied at different geographic scales (local and national levels) to verify its potential and limitations. The WHI is a direct and concise indicator that provides a holistic perspective on how waste is being managed. The WHI is more than a source of waste statistics; it is the beginning of a real discussion about how waste statistics should be managed to reach a circular economy through the implementation of waste hierarchy.


Circular economy,Preparing for reuse,Recycling,Source separation,Waste hierarchy principle,Waste-to-energy,