Exploratory Study of Sustainable Industrial Solid Waste Management Systems

Sustainable industrial management systems are important in achieving environmental, social and economically viable company practices. This exploratory research investigates and analyses elements that are needed to establish and maintain such systems. Initiatives and publications supporting the introduction of such systems are available but are incomplete because many elements have not been reported in detail. This research follows a triangulation approach: a variety of data, sources of information and research methods are applied in examining and analysing industrial solid waste management systems. Various methods to increase the qualitative and quantitative understanding of sustainable industrial solid waste management systems are developed and tested. Using different companies from different industrial sectors as case studies ensures that the methodologies are applicable across different circumstances. Stakeholders relevant to industrial solid waste management systems are analysed by using the literature and a case study. The legal and stewardship requirements for such systems are reviewed and assessed. The opportunities such requirements may present for companies are highlighted. Statistical methods are utilised to assess waste handling practices. A functional model is developed to illustrate material flows, waste flows and cumulative costs throughout supply chains. The statistical methods and functional model are applied using case studies in order to analyse and illustrate existing systems. A questionnaire is developed to conduct analyses of the perceptions and dispositions of, as well as external situational influences on, employees from six companies in the North of England. Based on these analyses, the dispositional and situational variables are identified to improve the understanding of industrial solid waste management behaviour. Finally a standardised database for the handling of waste is developed and applied. Various waste streams and materials are incorporated in the database that is illustrated by using a case study. The database is capable of generating job instructions automatically by following existing quality management system templates. The qualitative and quantitative understanding of the principles underpinning sustainable industrial solid waste management systems is increased substantially by combining physical and social science methodologies. Some of these methodologies have been incorporated, resulting in the provision of general advice and guidance for introducing more sustainable systems. It is hoped that those responsible for such systems will capitalise and benefit from the methods developed, results reported and recommendations made by this thesis.

Where to find

Newcastle University

Author Oliver Heidrich
Institution Newcastle University
Advisor Tom Donnelly (Unilever and CEG) and Joan Harvey (Newcastle University, Psychology)
Expected graduation 2006