Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Global Landfill Mapping Initiative

Contributors: Anne van den Heuvel, Ljupka Arsova, Ranjith Annepu, Roxanne Cason

The Cason Family Foundation (CFF) has launched the Global Landfill Mapping Initiative (Help us choose an Acronym). CFF intends to make this a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment with Esri in September, 2012.


Why? We are on the brink of an environmental and social crisis surrounding the issue of solid waste landfills. Improper disposal of waste is an enormous environmental and public health concern. Demand for recyclables is increasing due to scarcity of primary raw materials, rising commodity prices, Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility initiatives and general  economic incentives. 
1-2% of urban population in developing countries (where the largest unsanitary landfills are situated) are waste pickers who live and work on or around landfills [i].
It is estimated that 100 square kilometers of greenfields are converted to landfills every year, globally [ii].
Improper waste management emits 10,000 gTEQ of dioxins/furans and 22,000 metric tons of air pollutants every year in Mumbai alone
Despite these facts, locations of the existing landfills around the world remains unknown. There are no basic tools to facilitate a global approach to integrated solutions. Therefore, the Global Landfill Mapping Initiative (Help us choose an Acronym) aims to create an open-source interactive map of the of waste disposal sites around the world. 

Implementation of the project will begin with identifying a pilot city in Brazil. Primary target regions to be mapped are: Brazil, Latin America, India, Philippines, China and Africa.
Most high income countries already have existing databases of their waste management infrastructure, which will also be included in our initiative.

Impacts of this Initiative include but are not limited to:

The map, associated database and available data analytic tools will make a phenomenal contribution to many global concerns related to solid waste management including Public Health, Climate Change, Air, Water and Land Pollution, Material Cycles, and Poverty Reduction by enabling:
  • Estimation of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions to achieve GHG reduction targets;
  • Estimation of Health and environmental impacts associated with improper waste management;
  • Estimation of the amount of waste dumped and recyclable materials recovered/available for recovery;
  • Strategic, sustainable integrated waste management and urban planning;
  • Monitoring of the evolution of global solid waste management towards a sustainable and integrated landscape;
  • Estimation and addressing sub-types of water pollution like ocean pollution due to plastics; and
  • Optimization of recyclable supply chains involving individual/groups of waste pickers and final buyers.
      This map would contribute to the informal waste sector's efforts to organize, respective local and national authorities, academia, researchers, international organizations and private companies involved in the formal and informal waste sectors. The map would also increase public understanding of the solid waste and surrounding issues, an exciting prospective which has been difficult to achieve until now.

[i] Martin Medina
[ii] Dr. Nickolas Themelis
[iiiRanjith Annepu

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