Introducing the EcoSwaD model. A Model designed to simply the process of assessing the sustainabilitry of waste disposal sites, to be practical, and easily understood by waste disposal site managers or other practitioners who do not have in-depth understanding of all sustainability issues.
Need for ecologically sustainable disposal sites
The requirement to keep Waste Disposal Sites (WDS) sustainable is important now, more than ever, due to the growing waste quantities being generated worldwide with several countries experiencing significant waste management challenges. Although the need for sustainability of WDS is largely agreed upon by the various stakeholders, including researchers, policy makers, environmental conservationists, a comprehensive method for determining if a disposal site is sustainable is yet to be achieved. Much progress has been made in assessing sustainability of cities, with reference to the waste management sector (James, 2014. Link for circles of sustainability), and assessment of waste management as a whole but the definition of sustainability assessment of WDS is still limited.
There are limitations in the methodologies for comprehensive assessment of the sustainability of WDSs, with the existing models giving the environmental impacts of landfills, while not fully describing the sustainability status of sites. Moreover, several methodologies are limited to specifically the environment while excluding the social or economic aspects.
Additionally, although indicators of sustainable WDS are present, these vary across different fields of waste management with emphasis placed on only those indicators that relate to a context. However, WDS are complex systems with effects on community, economy and the environment, and as such current WDS assessments do not fully account for all aspects of WDS sustainability. In this regard, comprehensive assessment of WDS should include the ecological sustainability of WDS as the minimum. Hence, the widely recognised need for a proper methodology to adequately assess the ecological sustainability of a WDS cannot be over emphasized.
Methodologies that can easily show the unsustainable areas of a WDS and need improvement are desirable as they make decision making easier. For effective assessment of the ecological sustainability of WDS, methodologies need to provide a quick assessment of the sites that is easy to interpret by people across the different fields the economy. Therefore, the EcoSWaD was developed as a framework for evaluation of the ecological sustainability of WDS was designed to fill the gap that exists in comprehensive assessment WDS sustainability.