January 2014


In this issue

One of the most pervasive myths about waste is that there’s always an “out”—as in, when something is no longer useful, you can throw it out. But trash stays with us long after we think we’re rid of it. And this is not your grandfather’s trash. The alarming accumulation of waste today is a product of unrelenting urbanization as well as the materials that power growing economies. This waste pollutes air, land, and sea, hastening climate change, which in turn worsens the effects of natural disasters.

New approaches in public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the waste sector combine public sector leadership, private sector skill and efficiencies, community involvement, and innovative financing methods to tailor solutions to local conditions that can beat back this grim vision. Partnership successes in Berhampur, India, for example, create a model ripe for replication, as we see in “Consensus for Cleanup.” The Clinton Climate Initiative’s support for PPPs that reduce methane (“Nurturing New Partnerships”) may ultimately blunt waste’s impact on the climate.

Technology can provide solutions for many different waste management scenarios. “When does EFW work?” and “Due Diligence” both guide municipal officials toward a tailored solution that’s best for their area. In “Burn or Bury,” authors Daniel Hoornweg and Perinaz Bhada-Tata, known most recently for sounding the waste alarm in Nature, explore the choices of landfill versus incineration.

It’s critical to engage communities in partnerships to reduce and manage municipal waste. The 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, Chad Pregracke, founder of the nonprofit cleanup group Living Lands and Waters, knows this first-hand. As he says in the first Handshake podcast: “These are big problems with no easy answers, but we’re creating solutions as we go.”