ISWA Groups

Task Forces

Task Forces

Ad Hoc Task Forces are established by ISWA to handle special new challenges identified by the Board which require expert and concentrated attention. The Task Forces provide a means for ISWA to obtain specialised information on current key issues and to assist ISWA in policy and programme determination. Task Forces are therefore established for a specific purpose and assignment, and only exist for a predetermined length of time.

ISWA Task Force Resource Mangement

Task Force on Resource Management

The potential for effective resource management and in particular the circular economy to drive economic growth has caught the imagination of leading thinkers across the globe.  


National environmental policies to reduce landfill and landfill gas emissions are being overtaken by demands to rethink industrial processes.  The waste industry has been driven to find new markets for secondary raw materials as across OECD countries landfill, as a sink of last resort is banned or all but priced out of the market. 


The unintended implication of these changes has been a global surge in secondary raw materials seeking markets.  New patterns of global trade have emerged for recovered paper, plastics, textiles and waste derived fuels despite strongly fluctuating commodity prices.  As the risks to raw material supply have become evident government and business interests have sunk growing research funding into how to change current operating business models and to secure investment in new treatment technologies 


In recognition of these challenges, the ISWA Board established the ISWA Task Force on Resource Management in June 2014. The task force has prepared a study into the current trends and a series of reports to help the waste industry to respond to these unprecedented pressures on our industry. 


The Final Report of the ISWA Task Force on Resource Management is now available. 


The reports of the Task Force were presented and discussed over multiple public and closed events, such as the ISWA World Congress 2014 Special Session in Sao Paulo in September 2014, the Task Force on Resource Management Expert Workshop in Paris in June 2015, the ISWA World Congress 2015 in Antwerp in September 2015 and the “Circular Economy: Resources and Opportunities: The Challenge of Circular Economy for the Waste Management industry’ conference in Brussels in November 2015. 


You can read and download the Task Force reports, key messages and view the Task Force video and further short video interviews with the report authors below.



Video: The Golden Resource

Video: The Golden Resource

ISWA's Key Messages on Resource Management

ISWA TFRM Key Messages on Resource Management
Task Force Key Messages flyer - click to download

Sustainable waste management has a crucial role to play

ISWA believes that resource management is central to sustainable development and that the waste management sector has a crucial role to play in optimising material and energy use within the circular economy. The circular economy is an opportunity for the waste management sector. It is a catalyst for new skills, innovation, knowledge and development; and will result in new technologies, business models and partnerships. To reach its potential, the waste management sector has to develop its own roadmap towards the circular economy, while recognising the need for cross-sector collaboration.


Sustainable waste management provides more goods and less environmental impact

The waste management sector is already making a pivotal contribution to the field of sustainable materials and energy management, by providing secondary raw materials for production, carbon matter and nutrients for improving and fertilizing soil and carbon neutral energy for electricity production, heating, cooling and transportation. Hereby, the sector is significantly reducing the environmental impact associated with raw material extraction and production as well as reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. The waste management sector has the skills and knowledge needed to facilitate the drive to a circular economy throughout the value chain


The first step starts with waste prevention

Effective waste prevention measures are key to resource efficiency and the circular economy. The waste management sector is already engaged in waste prevention initiatives, but the concept is not yet a fully integrated part of the waste management systems. Therefore, in order to support, facilitate and operate efficient and effective waste prevention initiatives, the waste management sector has to develop and integrate waste prevention activities, such as awareness training, feedback to designers and manufacturers as well as reuse and refurbishing, into the business models of the sector.


Technical challenges to closing the loop

Due to technological and scientific challenges, such as material deterioration and the lingering presence of hazardous substances, it is not possible to fully close the loops without substantial technological advances, which will take considerable time to reach.  Meanwhile, the effective life of materials can be extended through optimal cascade utilisation before they are recovered for energy or finally disposed in a safe way.


Energy for the circular economy

The circular economy relies on energy as much as it does on material feedstock.  Circular flows will always have a residual waste stream, either due to market conditions, technologies available or social barriers. This residual waste stream shall be considered as an important energy resource, along with the biodegradable fraction of municipal solid waste and industrial wastes.


Time for innovation and research

The successful emergence of the circular economy calls for research and development involving multiple disciplines, cross-sector technologies, economic considerations and the natural and social sciences. The work will find effective and viable means to overcome challenges and barriers on the road towards the circular economy as well as develop a robust systemic approach to the circular economy itself.  The waste management sector’s experience in developing and operating solutions for material and energy recovery as well as its everyday experience of facing the challenges of taking care of the residues of the linear economy will make a valuable contribution to this task.


Markets for materials

Well-functioning markets are crucial for sustainable resource management and the circular economy. The preconditions for such markets are well defined and commonly agreed quality standards, testing methods, trading conditions and dispute resolution mechanisms.  Furthermore, trading systems and exchanges providing transparent and open trading information will reduce price volatility and transactions risk and make the trade more attractive and viable. The waste management sector, can together with the other actors in the value chain, support the establishment of such conditions and markets mechanisms. 


Policies for resource management

There is a need for revised, consistent long-term policy, legal and fiscal frameworks to support the emerging circular economy and the development of sustainable resource management.  Such frameworks have to supplement the supply-pushing material recovery targets in place today with incentives to create sound market demand for recovered materials. In addition, they have to secure an unbiased relation between virgin materials and new products on one side and recovered resources and refurbished products on the other, as well as foster research and development within the field of resource management and the circular economy. 


Teamwork of actors


All actors in the value chain need to interact and be involved in the transition toward a circular economy – designers, producers, manufacturers, consumers, policy makers, and the waste management sector. The waste management sector wants to engage proactively with all actors along the value chain.

Report 1 - Circular Economy: Trends and Emerging Ideas

Video: Martin Brocklehurst, on trends and emerging ideas in the field of circular economy
Report 1 - Circular Economy: Trends and Emerging Ideas
Video: Martin Brocklehurst, on trends and emerging ideas in the field of circular economy

Report 2. Circular Economy: Cycles loops and Cascades

Report 2. Circular Economy: Cycles loops and CascadesVideo: 2. Circular
Video: Cycles loops and Cascades – Andreas Bartl

Report 3. Circular Economy: Closing the Loops

Report 3. Circular Economy: Closing the Loops
Video: Closing the Loops – Costas Velis

Report 4. Circular Economy:Carbon, Nutrients and Soil

Report 4: Carbon, Nutrients and Soil
Video: Carbon, Nutrients and Soil – Jane Gilbert

Report 5. Circular Economy: Energy and Fuels

Report 5. Circular Economy: Energy and Fuels
Video: Energy and Fuels – Energy and Fuels

Report 6. Circular Economy: Resources and Opportunities

Report 6. Circular Economy: Resources and Opportunities
Video: Resources and Opportunities

ISWA Task Force Globalisation and Waste Management Publications

Task Force on Globalisation and Waste Management

The globalisation of waste is a major concern for ISWA since it is one of the major challenges for the long-term sustainability of waste management. Recognising that Globalization creates substantial changes and brings new unprecedented challenges for Solid Waste Management, ISWA established a Task Force (TF) in September 2010. The TF aims to examine and make recommendations on a range of issues arising from the interaction between globalisation and waste management.


List of deliverables/results of the Task Force under different thematic areas

Globalisation and Waste Management

ISWA TFGWM Report Globalisation and Waste Management

It is with pleasure and a certain sense of pride, that I introduce the ISWA Globalisation Task Force’s Final Report, which covers a series of important issues regarding waste management.


The Task Force’s interim report, in 2012, highlighted the links between globalised supply chains, consumerism, population growth, urbanisation, resource depletion and waste management. It underlined the crisis humanity faces in needing to stop open waste dumping and to bring collection services to half the world’s population living that don’t have them. Dumping and incomplete collection damage our health and environment. We underlined how a collective global effort is needed, such as in the fight against diseases (malaria, AIDS), in order to stop hundreds of millions of tonnes of waste polluting our water, soil and air. This requires co-operation between a wide range of stakeholders and above all funding. In this, the Task Force’s Final Report, we face a series of issues. We look at recycling of plastics and how the global supply chain is affected by recycling practices in developed nations that rely on market, particularly China, to ensure their sustainability. We search for answers to the growing challenge of informal sector workers, particularly in developing nations, and how to protect them through a transition to more formal structures, a highly contentious issue among waste professionals. And finally we examine the role of international co-operation in the development of waste management in economically poorer nations and find that the amount of international co-operation going to protect people’s health and their environment from uncontrolled waste is almost nothing, a miserable record for the International co-operation community and one which must be changed in the near term. This report has been elaborated by several authors and let me thank all of them for the integrity and intensity with which they faced these topics. I remind all readers that most of the work ISWA undertakes is voluntary and when paid, comes from the donations which ISWA members worldwide contribute to our association. So my thanks go to all ISWA supporters globally for making this report possible.


David Newman, ISWA President


Globalisation is one of the major challenges for the long-term sustainability of waste management  and vice-versa, appropriate waste management is one of the key conditions for sustainable globalisation.


The relationship between globalisation as a dominant worldwide process and solid waste management activities on a local and global scale has not previously been investigated systematically. Increased international trade in the last few decades has reduced poverty in many developing countries and raised living standards and purchasing power. At the same time it has radically changed the footprint of waste management around the world. Until a couple of decades ago, products were dominantly manufactured near their areas of consumption and wastes were managed near their source of production. Nowadays, vast amounts of mass-produced consumer products are being distributed worldwide. Solid waste management is linked increasingly to resource management and so it has evolved into a complicated global network of material and recyclable waste flows, affecting various aspects of the environment and everyday life.


The quantity, volume and the diversity of waste streams are increasing, and many countries, especially in the developing world, are facing serious degradation of their natural and urban environments. Increasing waste generation is not just a waste management issue. It is a symptom of inadequate methods for production and consumption worldwide. Waste represents not only an environmental threat but also a loss of valuable items, resources and energy that could have been reused or recovered. In addition, the impacts of resource extraction often occur far away from where manufacturing and consumption takes place.


In order to address these issues, in September 2010, the ISWA Board established a Task Force on Globalisation and Waste Management. The Task Force’s overall aim is to establish a conceptual framework for understanding the relationship between globalisation and waste management. To achieve this aim, the Task Force has addressed four thematic topics, which are discussed in this report:

  • Global recycling markets and their impact on sustainable waste management
  • Megacities and waste management
  • The informal sector asa global stakeholder inwaste management
  • International development co-operation in waste management

Key Figures

Sources of Waste Plastics Imported in China in 2010
Sources of Waste Plastics Imported in China in 2010
Megacities and Urbanisation
Megacities and Urbanisation
International Development Co-operation
International Development Co-operation

Global Recycling Markets: Plastic Waste

ISWA TFGWM Report Global Recycling Markets: Plastic Waste China

A story for one player - China


Plastics are emblematic materials, transforming our everyday life for over 60 years, delivering unprecedented functionality. Plastics global production, mainly from fossil raw materials, has skyrocketed: from 1.5 million tonnes (Mt) in 1950 to 288 Mt in 2012. Sustainable consumption and production, and the circular economy, require minimising use of virgin materials and greenhouse gasses emissions, while delivering clean material cycles. To this end, globalised trade in waste plastics is a major option.

A Review of International Development Co-operation in Solid Waste Management

ISWA TFGWM Report a Review of International Development Co-operation in Solid Waste Management

Rapid urbanisation and increasing global consumerism are driving unprecedented levels of waste generation in low and middle income countries. This rising tide of waste represents an increasing environmental, social and economic burden, particularly for the poorer parts of society.


In many parts of the world waste collection is still limited to more affluent areas and communities, disposal via open dumping is still widespread, and many of the world’s poorest people depend on informal recycling activities to survive.