This year the 7th International Marine Debris Conference (7IMDC) will take place from the 18th to the 23rd of September in Busan, Republic of Korea. GIZ along with partners (University of Leeds, Eawag, Wasteaware, RWA groups, and David Newby Associates) will be presenting about increasing plastic data accountability and circularity in cities – understanding plastic leakage using the Waste Flow Diagram (WFD) under one of their topics for this year, which is Interoperable Data and Plastic Pollution Modelling Towards National Action Planning (TS-1.11). You can find a short summary of our topic here, tune in hear more and be part of a discussion.

Around 80% of marine litter is believed to be from land-based sources. According to estimates, 2 billion people worldwide have no access to waste collection services, and 3 billion people’s waste is managed in an environmentally unsound manner. Inadequate waste collection services, waste handling practices, and infrastructures play a huge part in macro-plastic litter, especially in the low- and middle-income countries. 

To better understand the sources of plastic leakage and inform decision-making leading to interventions addressing marine plastic and debris, GIZ, University of Leeds, Wasteaware and Eawag launched the Waste Flow Diagram on behalf of German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2020. It provides a rapid assessment of waste (quantity) flows in a municipal waste management system and estimates macro plastic leakages (emissions) into environment. Besides baseline and impact assessment of interventions, it offers a scenario planning function, including standardised visualisation of the subsequent results. Since launch it has been applied in more than 100 cities and encouraged informed-based decision-making and infrastructure investments in improving municipal solid waste management especially in cities in low-to-middle income countries. 

The WFD collects data through primary and secondary data collection, observations, and interviews along waste management stations (from generation, collection, transport, treatment/recovery, to disposal). This data is entered in 5 sections: waste generation information, waste treatment and disposal, waste management in controlled facility, plastic leakage, and plastic leakage fate. It combines a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) approach with systematic and observation based qualitative assessment. To quantify plastic leakages though various municipal solid waste management stages, it uses leakage and fate influencers, potential levels, factors, and such data, of which options are selected based on observations. The leakage influencers list state of infrastructure and applied practices for each process. 

The WFD and UN-Habitat’s Waste Wise City tool are harmonized with the same data points, using the SDG 11.6.1 monitoring method (Proportion of municipal solid waste collected and managed in controlled facilities out of total municipal solid waste generated). This provides ample opportunities for benchmarking and comparison of data between different cities, and between data from these two tools. Further developments to facilitate the use of the WFD tool by municipalities and consultants are currently in progress. This includes an online portal for uploading and analyzing data, which further allows quality control and analysis of the results as well as the possibility to compare and benchmarking among cities. The online portal is designed in an open data approach enabling data sharing with other relevant data bases. To assist the users in conducting WFD assessments, further training materials are being developed. 

These efforts enhance mainstreaming of the tool for worldwide use and foster successful data cooperation and interoperable data models for informed decision-making as well as action planning on the ground, in line with the National Action Planning process to address marine litter and plastic pollution. 

Team members:  Steffen Blume (GIZ), Christian Zurbrügg (Eawag), Costas Velis (University of Leeds), Josh Cottom (University of Leeds), Andrew Whiteman (Wasteaware Ltd.), Mira Nagy (GIZ), Nidhi Thakkar (GIZ), David Newby (David Newby Associates), Andreea Oros-Baias (Wasteaware Ltd.), Maya Zaatar (Resource and Waste Advisory Group), Dorian Tosi Robinson (Eawag) 

About 7IMDC: 7IMDC will build on the momentum of past IMDCs by bringing together governments, industry, academia, civil society, and all relevant stakeholders, to discuss the latest science, strengthen collaborations, find solutions, and catalyse action to address the urgent, global problem of marine litter and plastic pollution. 

The 7IMDC will be organized by an Executive Committee comprised of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea (MOF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the organizational support of the Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation (KOEM), and the technical support of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Waste Flow Diagram