Waste prevention indicators and their implications from a life cycle perspective: a review

Yano, J.; Sakai, S. (2016) Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management, 18(1): 38-56


The 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) approach to waste management has been established internationally as one of the fundamental concepts for a sustainable society. In particular, the ''reduce'' aspect, which is the highest priority and also refers to waste prevention, implies similar concepts and definitions among regions. To outline useful recent research findings related to waste prevention, this paper reviewed and discussed the current situation, including (1) definitions, (2) indicators, (3) policy and behavior, and (4) prevention effects from the life cycle perspective. It was found that although various waste prevention indicators have been proposed in the EU, Japan, and by international authorities, the indicators actually adopted in their policies are limited by some issues, for example, a lack of data availability. Food waste, C&D waste, and WEEE (e-waste) were identified as higher priorities for waste prevention. Some current challenges for promoting waste prevention are to (1) make the definition of waste types clearer; (2) develop a standardized, consistent monitoring method; (3) clarify the causal linkage between prevention effects and stakeholders' behavior, and (4) quantify the environmental effects of waste prevention. Each of these aspects is essential and will be useful when considering waste prevention indicators and targets.


Municipal solid waste (MSW); Waste prevention; 3Rs; Indicator; Life cycle thinking; Review