Table of Contents
1.1 Motivation and Relevance
1.2 Research Gap and Research Question
2 Theoretical Background
2.1 Socio-Technical Systems
2.2 Waste Management Practices
2.2.1 Waste and Waste Management
2.2.2 Developments and Concepts in Waste Management
2.2.3 Waste Management Value Chain
2.2.4 The Waste Management Ecosystem
2.3 The Internet of Things and its Application Areas
2.3.1 Definition of IoT
2.3.2 Classification of Internet of Things Technologies
2.3.3 Internet of Things Applications in the Concept of Smart Cities
3.1 Design Science
3.2 Framework Construction
4 The Smart Waste Management Ecosystem
4.1 Possibilities for the Value Chain in Waste Management with new Technologies
4.1.1 Challenges and Requirements for current Waste Management Operations
4.1.2 Evaluation of Internet of Things Technologies
4.2 The Smart Waste Management Value Chain
4.3 The Smart Waste Management Ecosystem
List of References
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
This thesis reports on the results of a Design Science Research (DSR) study that develops a Smart Waste Management (SWM) Ecosystem. It presents implications of the application of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies on Waste Management (WM) as well as the entire smart city. Therefore, appropriate IoT technologies are evaluated and integrated into the WM value chain which coincide with the requirements and challenges for the WM sector. It is shown that the transformation into a Smart Waste Management (SWM) value chain enables improved and more efficient operations that can handle increasing amounts of waste in the future. In addition, the final revised SWM Ecosystem artifact depicts the necessity for a holistic view to transformations in the smart city environment, as synergy effects contribute to additional value, sustainability, and increased knowledge. The thesis shows that interdependencies between social- and technical system in WM impede on its transformation, and technological possibilities alone are not sufficient enough to drive the change. Thus, the thesis suggests that a common vision towards sustainability is needed among all components in the socio-technical system, that must be initiated and governed from a higher (political) instance.
This thesis aims to expand scientific knowledge about Waste Management (WM) and its future possibilities with the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. The first chapter provides a brief introduction into the topic and illustrates the motivation as well as the research gap. Eventually, the research question is stated and the structure of the thesis demonstrated.
1.1 Motivation and Relevance
By 2050, and a total of 9.3 billion people worldwide, more than 80% of the world's population is projected to be living in urban areas in Europe (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2007, p. 5). With this growing amount of people that live in our world, new challenges arise which need to be solved to still be able to ensure livable conditions (Chourabi et al., 2012, p. 2289).
Within this context, cities represent a crucial and vital factor for a sustainable future of humanity. If they seek to be able to offer economic, social and environmental well-being for their inhabitants with the ultimate goal of public value, they need to move towards the smart city concept, to provide smarter, i.e. more effective, environmental considerative, sustainable as well as innovative ways to make better use of their resources. Hence, they can become more efficient in their operations (Dameri & RosenthalSabroux, 2014, pp. 6-7; Jin et al., 2014, p. 112).
This concept not only includes policies, regulation, citizens' involvement and standards but also a use of technology. For the latter, the IoT allows creating solutions which are innovative and increase productivity as well as efficiency, which is in turn needed to keep up with the speed of civilization. Therefore, the IoT makes use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to connect all kinds of real- world devices and objects to allow for cooperation and communication. Based on this interconnectivity of devices, a great number of heterogeneous “things" are equipped with increased smartness (Atzori et al., 2010, pp. 2787-2788).
Accordingly, the provision of knowledge, which is based on technological advancements, plays a significant and decisive role in the urban development, as it has always been a major contribution and necessity for human improvement and civilization. Especially in a world that is crowded with data and information, knowledge becomes the major contributor to creating assets that present competitive advantages (Angelidou, 2015, pp. 98-104). Besides this economic value, an environmental value can be created with the generation of knowledge, which in turn allows finding solutions to the global issues of a sustainable future. Therefore, valuable data is required, which can be created with the application of IoT technologies within the city.
The smart solutions within the city that need to be covered to create enhanced sustainability cover the broad application areas of environmental monitoring, health care, buildings and homes, business and inventory, mobility and transport, governance and people (Atzori et al., 2010; Jin et al., 2014; Portmann & Finger, 2015; Vermesan & Friess, 2015).
Many of those areas have been under careful consideration since the beginning of the smart city's development, however, the topic of Smart Waste Management (SWM) has only emerged in recent years. It was realized that an efficient management of waste presents one of the key challenges of the 21st century and a key responsibility of cities' governments. If managed well, it establishes increased effectiveness, sustainability and innovation (Scheinberg et al., 2010; Soltani et al., 2015).
Over the years, WM has developed from a simple system with only few alternatives and methods to a complex construct of interrelations and interdependencies in a strong ecosystem. This is composed of stakeholders and people with major influence on structures and rules. Additionally, it is embedded in an environment that sets rules for the management of waste and tasks, which need to be fulfilled to guarantee a well-working waste industry. Moreover, WM has changed from a mere disposal to a more sustainable management of wastes in terms of the life cycle approach (LCA) that needs to comply with concepts such as the waste hierarchy or the 3Rs (Reuse, Recycle, Reduce).
Even though WM has developed towards a more sustainable system, inefficiencies among the entire value chain still exist that will pose greater challenges to the WM operators, as well as the entire smart city, as waste volume grows.
Therefore, the WM sector requires the integration of IoT capabilities that allow improving the entire value chain, and eventually, the entire ecosystem.
1.2 Research Gap and Research Question
WM's enhancements based on technologies have been studied in a variety of researches, whereby relevant technologies have always been selected in accordance to presented research questions. As transportation and collection routes in WM have been found to be very inefficient, previous research focused intensively on the application of different route optimization algorithms for collection processes and their potential savings in emissions and costs (Johansson, 2006; Li et al., 2009; Nuortio et al., 2006). This research has been enhanced with the integration of IoT capabilities in the form of various sensors to bin systems to facilitate tracking and bin status monitoring, i.e. measurement of waste levels (Arebey et al., 2011; Chowdhury & Chowdhury, 2007; Faccio et al., 2011). In addition, systems' application of Cloud solutions and integration of latest network technologies for SWM systems have been examined recently (Aazam et al., 2016; Jin et al., 2014; Yinbiao et al., 2014; Raza et al., 2017).
Generated data from the inside of a technologically-oriented value chain has been proven to deliver improvements in the WM operations, however, additional value for other application domains can be created as well. Thus, these other application domains, which have not been in closer contact with any WM players before, could benefit from additional value generations. Similary, the WM sector could become more than just a “simple" service provider for the public well-being. However, neither of the conducted research has focused on a complete view of SWM systems which are created by utilizing different types of ICTs.
In regards to the smart city developments, various implementations for different domains of cities have been introduced which improve operations and services in the specific areas. Nonetheless, their integration into the broader ecosystem, which creates both, benefits from each single IoT application but also synergy effects that can be drawn from their aggregation, has been missing (Dameri & RosenthalSabroux, 2014, p. 2). It has been found that effective application of smart city systems move beyond the pure use of technology, and are required to consider the influential power of social, economic as well as psychological factors (policies, behavior, participation), as well as environmental impact, and existing structures and interrelations.
Therefore, this thesis aims at creating a holistic picture of the integration of IoT technologies to WM that are required to cope with challenges and requirements of the future. Consequently, appropriate technologies are applied to transform the original WM value chain into a SWM value chain, which is used for the creation of a SWM Ecosystem to answer the research question:
“What are the implications of IoT capabilities for the WM sector and how can they be used to enhance the value chain?”
To be able to answer the research question appropriately, the following sub-questions are posed:
- How does the value chain look like?
- What are the requirements and challenges of current and future WM operations?
- Which IoT technologies are appropriate to enhance the WM value chain and to cope with the challenges?
- How is technology influencing the social system in context of WM?
This thesis focus specifically on municipal solid WM in developed countries.
The thesis starts with an introduction to the topic including its motivation and relevance, as well as the problem statement and research questions. In the second chapter, the theoretical foundation for the topics of the Socio-Technical System (STS), WM, and IoT is established. Thereby, definitions, developments, and classifications of WM and IoT are provided. The former is presented further within its value chain as well as ecosystem approach, whereas the latter's application is depicted within the smart city concept. This theoretical knowledge shall enable to follow the methodology and empirical part of the thesis. Chapter three presents the methodological approach of this study, introducing the Design Science Research (DSR) framework developed by Peffers et al. (2007). Consequently, the framework is applied to the context of SWM, introducing the procedure that has been followed for the artifact's creation, especially in regards to data collection that makes use of interviews, as well as evaluation. In chapter four, the SWM Ecosystem artifact is presented. Therefore, the interview's results as well as conducted literature are utilized. This serves an elaboration of requirements and challenges of the current WM and the provision of an evaluation of IoT technologies, that are suitable to overcome these challenges and support the requirements. Consequently, the resulting technologies are applied to the WM value chain, that has been introduced in the theoretical part, to present the enhancement capabilities of technologies for the WM value chain and answer one part of the research question. Ultimately, the resulting SWM value chain is set within the context of an ecosystem, which allows to depict the implications of technology on the entire WM sector. Thus the other part of the research question is answered, whereby the artifacts's development its adjustments, based on the interviewee's feedback, is directly integrated into this section. Chapter five discusses the SWM Ecosystem artifact within the STS. This allows setting implications and potentials of technologies' application to WM in the context of its environment, presenting inter-dependencies and inter-relations to the social system. In chapter six, the results are summarized, limitations of the study are presented and suggestions for future research are proposed.
2 Theoretical Background
This chapter establishes the theoretical foundations for the topics of the STS, WM and the IoT. These serve as a preparation for the empirical part of this thesis and will be applied in the broader context of SWM in the later course of the thesis.
2.1 Socio-Technical Systems
The STS provides a normative framework to identify the influence of technological developments on entire organizations, also presenting their interdependencies in the context of work systems (Trist, 1981). Thereby, the theory about the STS approach (Bostrom & Heinen, 1977a) presents organizations which are divided into two independent, but interrelated systems, containing four components - people, structure, task, and technology - that impinge on each other (Figure 1). The technical subsystem relates to tasks and technologies which are needed to transform a given input into an output, the social subsystem focusses on relationships among people, structures, and reward systems as well as their attitudes, values and skills (Bostrom & Heinen, 1977b, p. 14; Bostrom & Heinen, 1977a, p. 17). By that, the STS gives organizations a framework which allows optimizing technical requirements along with the needs and values of its members, always focusing on the joint optimization of both, technical requirements and psychological and social aspects.
STSs are complex constructs whose design requires a clear vision of requirements, identification of suitable value-adding technologies for the unique operative environment and an integration in, as well as coordination of, a variety of processes that are part of heterogeneous organizations. More complexity is added since STSs are part of evolving and dynamic operative environments that require the system's evolution and participation (Cabri et al., 2016, p. 4).
Figure 1: The Socio-Technical System (Bostrom & Heinen, 1977b, p. 25)
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Socio-technical studies are conducted at different levels, from a micro to macro level, which influence each other. At the micro level, primary work systems are included, which refer to bounded subsystems (i.e. departments or units consisting of groups of individuals, among them specialists, managers, workers, equipment and further resources) that carry out the activities. On a higher level, whole organization systems can be found which represent entire organizations or solely plants. They are characterized by their provision of environmental steadiness and stability for their subsystems. The STS as macrosocial system “includes systems in communities and industrial sectors and institutions operating at the overall level of a society" (Trist, 1981, p. 11). Especially in these large STSs, a close interaction of components among each other as well as with organizations and humans are required (Cabri et al., 2016).
Generally, the rise of technologies (especially the rise of IoT) is seen as an enabler of new ways of cooperation, communication, and work, which in turns allows for more effective solutions and productivity in a given environment. Likewise, making use of new technologies facilitates the improvement of the whole STS (Bostrom & Heinen, 1977b, p. 29), and also views and manipulates the environment's evolution in which technology is deployed.
Nonetheless, with latest technological developments, more complexity is added due to a wide set of heterogeneous entities that (need to) interact in secure, adaptive and responsive ways. Hence, the interconnection of a large number of various components inside the technology component presents one of the keys to design and transform a STS. Certainly, the interconnection to the other components cannot be underestimated. New entities, which offer great potential technology-wise, may also have unforeseen impacts on the individual, organization, and society while technology may intervene in people's work practices, decrease their level of satisfaction, hence also their productivity, and change the original set of power, relations, and control. Especially with a growing amount of data that is generated, privacy and security issues present a key issue that needs to be taken into consideration when designing new STSs. Additionally, the choices of technology and architecture of a STS have not only implications on legal, ethical and societal issues but also need to be compliant with national and international European Union (EU) regulations and norms (Cabri et al., 2016).
Generally, a co-evolution of disruptive technologies and user preferences as well as markets appears. However, a key criterion for the successful transformation always refers to the integration of new technologies by users into their practices and organizations (Geels, 2002).
Besides the encountering of certain requirements in the design of a STS, the socio-technical perspective presents a powerful tool to analyse not only technological developments and their potential for sustainable impact but also possibilities in a social interaction because it is evaluating the possible integration from an all-encompassing view (Shin, 2014).
Transformation of the socio-technical construct, which relates to changes from one socio-technical configuration to another, can be initiated from different levels. The transformations refer to changes in technology, and reallocations of elements, where changes in one element can provoke changes in others. Often, however, new technologies face problems in regards to their implementation because other components in the system are aligned with existing technology, which leads to a “mismatch with the established socio-institutional framework" (Geels, 2002, p. 1258).
The multi-level perspective on transitions, presented by Geels (2002), depicts possible entry points for change as well as their development and interrelations of a system (Figure 2). Most likely, disruptive innovation comes from niches, as they provide room for incubation, locations for learning processes (i.e. learning by doing, learning by using and interacting) and have a higher tolerance for failures. Among multiple innovations, individuals may become successful and gain a disruptive influence on the system as soon as a window of opportunity is opened in the socio-technical regime. Consequently, entire socio- technical regimes, consisting of markets, users, preferences, industry, policies, science, culture, and technology, have to adjust to the innovation. Thereby, the regimes provide stability in the system as they enable, as well as constrain, activities for its constituents. At the regime level, innovation may still occur, but at a lower pace. The socio-technical regime is generally embedded in a broader context, i.e. external structure for the interactions of elements in the system such as cultural and normative values or Figure 2: Multi-level Perspective on Transitions (based on Geels & Schot, 2007, p. 401)
Increasing structuration of activities in local practices Landscape developments put pressure on existing regime, which opens up, creating windows for opportunity for novelties.
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Time environmental problems. This socio-technical landscape can also change, however, this is rarely found. Nonetheless, as soon as developments on the landscape level appear, pressure is placed on regimes that need to react to them by creating novelties and feeding them back into the landscape. Generally, processes that arose due to tensions or shifts in the system create windows of opportunity that allow for innovation.
The multi-level perspective on transitions of STS underlines that (radical) innovation (from the niche level) can only be successful if developments in higher levels allow for novelties. On a regime level, this covers changes on wider dimensions such as regulation or infrastructure, which in turn might influence the landscape level (Geels, 2002). Embedding the complexity, which is created by the four components’ interrelations, enhances both, its broader context and its surrounding. Consequently, transitions in a system cannot be fulfilled through a simple alignment of the STS’s components, but require novel thinking and transformations on the entire landscape.
2.2 Waste Management Practices
2.2.1 Waste and Waste Management
Waste, according to Article 3 (1) of Directive 2008/98/EC, “means any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard". Besides, waste is an inevitable by-product of activities, which contains the same ingredients of “active" and useful products. The major difference is a lack of value in a specific situation. However, even if a product becomes waste after its use or consumption, it does not mean that it looses its value. On the contrary, its value can be restored with recovery or use of the generated “waste" for other activities. Following an example, this becomes evident: A garment is discarded by a person as it is not worn anymore, thus, without value. Making use of the garment as a cleaning material, though, restores its value for a different use case. As soon as it is not usable as a cleaning towel any longer, its material may be used for other products after it has been separated (reused) or is composed differently (recycled), This creates novel value for a new product. The chain can be expanded until the material either cannot be processed any further (is disposed) or is transformed into energy.
Generally, waste can be differentiated and clustered in six different schemes, with a first distinguishing characteristic referring to the physical state of waste being solid, liquid or gaseous. Within solid waste, further classifications (Bilitewski et al., 2000, pp. 28-46; European Commission, 2008; McDougall et al., 2001, p. 2; Scheinberg et al., 2010, pp. 213-215) can be made that are presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Classification of Solid Waste
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A handling and treatment of waste becomes very difficult based on these different types. Beyond that, WM is located in a very complex structure being influenced not only by society, politics, the market, and financials but also by technology while interfacing with other topics such as city development, water, energy and food security (Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, 2016). Moreover, WM needs to meet the needs of laws (EU, federal government, and fees), customers (inhabitants’ desires and acceptance) as well as demographics (age and culture) and financials (private fees and revenues) (Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, 2016, p. 20; McDougall et al., 2001, p. 8). This requires an effective system that is both, capable of dealing with complexity and able to ensure health, safety, and sustainability. Especially over the last years, sustainability has become a key driver in the management of waste. Therefore, sustainability-seeking WM systems need to address WM in terms of environmental (e.g. air emissions, water pollution, waste, land use, water use), social (e.g. livelihood, health, education, empowerment, community cohesion) and economic terms (e.g. intangibles, exports, investments, profits, payroll) (Morrissey & Browne, 2004, p. 298; Petts, 2000, p. 824). Only if the synergy between economic affordability, social acceptability and environmental effectiveness is taken into account, sustainability as a “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, p. 16) can be assured (Figure 3). Consequently, an efficient management of resources and proper sustainable businesses, which delivers ecological and social added value next to the economic benefit are necessary. Otherwise, a waste of resources, waste of energy and waste of time will appear (Ahrend, 2016, p. 23; McDougall et al., 2001, p. 4; Winthrop, 1980, p. 275).
To ensure a sustainable and appropriate handling of waste, WM practices have been introduced that include “the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste, including the supervision of such operations and the after-care of disposal sites, and including actions taken as a dealer or broker" (European Commission, 2008, Article 3). The responsibility for the proper operationalization of these practices lies at the national level, whereby all countries, that are EU members, have to transpose EU rules into national law (Bilitewski et al., 2000, p. 10). For WM, this refers to an alignment of national systems with the Directive 2008/98/EC that “establishes the legislative framework for the handling of waste in the Community" to protect the environment and human health by reducing and preventing waste generation and improving efficiency (European Commission, 2008). Consequently, waste’s management can be transferred to any original waste producer or private or public waste collector (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 215). Additionally, parallel WM systems in the urban area exist that take care of other wastes which are generated (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 7).
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On a broader level, WM should include the support of recycling, reuse, and recovery as well as the execution of the waste hierarchy (see Chapter 2.2.2). Moreover, measurements and plans for the entire life cycle of products and materials as well as the promotion of waste prevention programs are required. However, member states' different characteristics do not allow for general approaches for transitions. This refer not only to geographical circumstances but also to individual treatments that are required for regionally occuring waste (Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, 2016, p. 5).
A sustainable management of waste is often approached with the LCA, which aims at reducing the absolute amount of waste based on an execution of recycling and recovery. Accordingly, it includes an avoiding of negative influences on the environment and health through the consideration of economic and ecologic disposal- and recovery technologies (Del Borghi et al., 2009, p. 598). In doing so, the sustainable LCA not only takes care of an economic oriented recovery of materials and energy sources, but also their further processing, return into the industry- and manufacturing industry processes (including removal and delivery systems), and the substitution of primary raw materials (ISO, 2006; Wirtz, 2007, p. 58). As waste is thrown away (cradle), its life cycle starts, followed by all types of operations until waste's grave in the final disposal. The LCA thereby focuses on the optimization of the infrastructure system to manage waste and its composition. Therefore, waste prevention potential of certain products can only be evaluated on a product basis (Figure 4 - left side using a vertical LCA), which allows comparing different systems of waste treatment. The evaluation of different waste treatments (recycling, composting or landfilling), however, can be executed using the horizontal LCA (Figure 4 - right side using a horizontal LCA) (McDougall et al., 2001, pp. 108-110). By that, the long-term retention of materials in the system, after they have been used, can be accomplished. Furthermore, modern material flow management can be established that contributes to the protection of resources and climate (Antonopoulos et al., 2014; Köglmeier et al., 2010, p. 1885). Chapter 4.2 incorporates this approach in regards to the value chain in WM.
Moreover, several principles help to fulfill sustainable WM principles. Firstly, the waste hierarchy needs to be satisfied. Secondly, the precautionary principle ensures the defense of hazards for people and environment by the state. Thirdly, the polluter pays principle places impulses for a sustainable behavior through the transfer of costs to those that are responsible for environmental threats. Since several damages cannot be related to the individual but only the community, the burden-sharing principle is considered in the form of environmental taxes and constraints. Fourthly, the cooperation principle asks for a mutual agreement between all involved parties in cases of conflicts and the assertion of environmental targets. Additionally, the principle of subsidiarity places the duty for tasks in WM to the party that is able to do so best in terms of cost, benefit, and efficiency. Lastly, the proximity principle asks for the smallest possible transportation of waste to reduce environmental emissions and risks (Bilitewski et al., 2000, pp. 7-9).
Figure 4: Life Cycle Approach for Product and Waste (based on McDougall et al., 2001, p. 108)
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Besides these principles, WM should follow further political principles and goals, economic principles and goals as well as scientific-technical principles and goals (Bundesamt für Umweltschutz, 1986).
For political principles, this relates to:
- WM acting upon laws' objectives on the protection of men and his environment: WM's activities must not have any negative influence on men and the environment, which means values of health and environmental quality are of major concern while complying with economic activities.
- All kinds of WM systems need to be sustainable as a whole: Not only individual parties along the system need to coincide with sustainability regulations, but the entire system.
- Disposal of waste happens inside a country: Individual treatment of waste streams, as well as enough disposal capabilities, are required in a country. However, international collaboration, especially in regards to cross-border trade, is preferable.
- WM and its activities vary in different regions: The entire process of WM (related to quality, quantity, transport routes) can differ regionally very strongly. Therefore, a uniform WM does not exist but rather individual management for different cities and regions.
For the scientific-technical principles, this relates to:
- Only two kinds of materials must be created in disposal systems: Only recyclable materials and materials suitable for disposal are allowed to be processed in the systems.
- Environmentally hazardous substances need to be handled in the most concentrated form and environmentally friendly substances in the purest form: With the processing of these materials, a large volume can be reduced and easier disposal sites can be used.
- Organic substances do not belong in any permanent disposal site: Natural organic connections should be reused (e.g. using composting), other organic substances that are not recyclable should be mineralized.
- Permanent disposals are mono-landfills: Making use of mono-landfills, which only store nonreacting materials, increases security and resource potential for future generations.
For the economic principles, this relates to:
- Fees for WM have to be appropriate in terms of cost and risk: Costs for WM are based on offsetting the total expenditure against the revenues from reuses. Thereby, risk is considered in total expenditures in the form of potential subsequent costs.
- Fees are applied proportionally to the amount of private households' waste creation: A uniform rate seems inappropriate as a calculation method.
- Waste is supposed to be recycled as long and as much as possible.
- The waste hierarchy presents the appropriate handling of waste.
2.2.2 Developments and Concepts in Waste Management
Since its beginnings, WM has undergone major changes. These developments and modernization in WM have been driven throughout the past and present by public health, environmental protection and the resource value of waste (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 19), which appear in the context of urbanization and the management of waste.
Until the 19th century, WM and public hygiene were primarily depending on individuals' activities. The ongoing urbanization not only led to a higher density of people in cities, but also to greater amounts of waste that were generated and could not be handled efficiently anymore. In the middle of the 19th century, a shift became apparent as diseases and urban hygiene crisis were linked for the first time to poor WM services and uncollected waste (Scheinberg et al., 2010). This knowledge led to an establishment of stronger municipal authorities that gained more responsibility for the WM services. In particular, better public health was supopsed ot be ensured with both, waste's removal and its collection. Hence, urban solid waste infrastructures and services were originated that allowed for a better organized waste collection in the late 19th century (Strasser, 1999).
Even though waste was collected in a more structured way, wastes were uncontrollably disposed for the sole purpose of best availability and proximity. This induced contaminations of water, air, and land impacting the public health of those living close to hazardous dumps. Only in the 1960s, environmental protection drivers were born, that were followed by laws on water pollution, and in the 1970s on solid WM policies from the EU. These laws were mainly formed due to pressure from media and politics that raised awareness and assertiveness for change (Bilitewski et al., 2000, pp. 2-7; Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 20; Scheinberg, 2011; Wilson, 2007). The most recent environmental driver refers to the increased pollution and the arising climate (Wilson, 2007, p. 200) as larger populations and more activities have created higher levels of emissions and changes in the environmental conditions. Additionally, the negative impact on future generations and a deterioration of the environmental quality has led to a growing awareness that the “environment should not be considered as an external sink for wastes from society, but as part of the global system that needs careful and efficient management" (McDougall et al., 2001, p. 8).
Resource value of waste:
Prior to the industrial times, materials and money were scarce. Hence, recycling, reuse, and repair were necessary activities to ensure a living with shortages of materials. Certainly, people started to realize that waste came with an economic value, started picking up waste and making money by selling it to developing value chains. However, with the industrialization and an increasing amount of available materials, people lost their relationship to resources, as well as their skills, values, and opportunities in the reuse of products. Both, the production industry as well as waste grew further, but industries and individuals were not able to return waste back into the system for further usage. Thus, waste’s additional value was ignored (Bilitewski et al., 2000, pp. 2-7; Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 20; Scheinberg, 2011, pp. 4-11; Strasser, 1999) and waste mainly placed in disposals. However, with WM’s modernization and better organized waste collections, the value of waste reclaimed importance. Additionally, thoughts about waste in a more sustainable manner were created when people started to realize that placing waste in holes presented an inefficient materials management (McDougall et al., 2001, pp. 4-10).
The thought about waste as a resource has been driven by the EU’s Second Environment Action Programme (CEC1977) in the form of the “waste hierarchy", firstly introduced in 1977, to increase the 3Rs. This development appeared through the rising awareness that instruments for low-waste production techniques and prolonged preservation of products, as well as instruments for the reduction of waste, their reuse, and a proper energy content utilization were missing even though waste collection had been drastically improved (von Köller, 1997, pp. 1-36).
With the waste hierarchy, the first move towards a sustainable resource management from a governmental perspective was made, instead of dealing with waste as a finite product. This led to an alignment of both, WM pollution strategies as well as laws towards the concept (Papargyropoulou et al., 2014, p. 106). Conceptually, the waste hierarchy (Figure 5) presents the waste handling’s desirability. It generally states that strategies which eliminate or reduce waste before it is created are preferred over costly and (sometimes) risky treatment or disposal. The prevention of waste, however, has the highest desirability, which refers to neither a production nor formation of waste in the first place. It is followed by a waste’s minimization, reuse or recycling approach that may lead to further usages e.g. in the form of energy recovery. Controlled disposal presents the least favorable solution, albeit some materials require this form of treatment to produce no harm (Anschütz et al., 2004, p. 20; European Commission, 2008). The waste hierarchy includes an additional underlying layer that refers to the uncontrolled disposal of materials, also known as dumping. Dumping has become a major obstacle resulting in late adoptions and overcoming of this hurdle even for some developed countries only during the 1980s (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 105 ).
Thereby, each country is responsible for the waste hierarchy’s operationaization. Thus, flexible and individualized approaches that support the life cycle and provide optimal environmental outcome in the respective area are established (European Commission, 2008).
In a supportive manner, the Zero Waste concept has been established that emphasizes waste prevention and focuses on the reconstruction of any production or distribution systems to enable waste reduction. Zero waste presents one of the concepts which is highly dependent on players in the industry as well as legal regulations. However, it often lacks active support of those. Therefore, additional concepts, such as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) have been introduced, which delegate responsibilities for products' environmental impact to the producers' area of responsibility (Fishbein et al., 2000; Spiegelman, 2006).
Figure 5: Waste Hierarchy (based on European Commission, 2008; Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 106)
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The gained knowledge about consequences for the environment and public health as well as economic value of waste allowed for the modern landfill development. Related to additional knowledge about waste composition, further laws were adopted introducing not only landfill bans for recyclables but also recycling and composting goals and standards for disposal facilities. By that, up to 50% more waste was recovered (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 20). With the risen understanding of waste's economic value, especially through materials' valorisation (“combination of repair, reuse, recycling, composting, and organic waste management activities that are based on commercialising materials and selling them into the agricultural or industrial value chains" (Scheinberg, 2011, p. 5)) and their reuse in other value chains, the aim for recycling and recovery grew steadily. Besides being ecologically worthwhile with the conservation of valuable resources, the recycling operations mainly became popular due to their antidote to expensive disposal. Newly created disposal sites were located outside the urban areas, which caused longer distances, more time, increased administration costs and new landfill fees for the WM service providers. In turn, making use of recycling cut costs drastically by keeping materials from disposal.
Already back in the 1990s, the recycling industry presented itself as a highly developed industry and was quickly integrated into other materials industries (Scheinberg et al., 2010). During the last 15 to 20 years, it has been included into WM systems as an integral part. Next to the recycling sector, the collection sector started to make use of new technology in the 1970s to 1980s when route optimization and selection of facility sites started to be supported by computational power and sophisticated models for optimal cost structures (Gottinger, 1988; Khan & Faisal, 2008, p. 1501; Truitt et al., 1969).
Additionally, WM practices were driven by public awareness in political agendas. These asked for behavioral changes in terms of people' and organizations' WM practices (Wilson, 2007, p. 201).
Generally, WM in the 21st century, follows a much broader approach incorporating the entire value chain, stakeholders as well as technological and non-technical aspects to ensure a successful and sustainable integrated WM that focuses on its needs alongside the appropriate regulations.
The impact of climate change, as well as resource scarcity, presents a key component on the European agenda, which has driven their efforts in the development of WM practices in recent years. Hence, existing legislations are continuously improved along these issues, e.g. the increased promotion of life cycle thinking in WM, as well as concurrent integration of economically feasible and environmentally sustainable practices. As such, waste definitions have been redefined, the end-of-waste criteria was introduced and the 3Rs further propagated. Due to issues caused by climate change, additional measures (in regards to Green House Gas emissions, energy diversion or recycled materials’ quality) at the EU level were implemented (Pires et al., 2011, p. 1036). Consequently, a variety of common procedural requirements and principles were introduced to ensure high level environmental protection among all EU member states (European Commission, 2001).
EU regulations also introduced the need for a more “effective public participation", referring to associations and other organizations, who actively advocate for the environmental protection. Thus, the public environmental education and awareness may be fostered, supplementary to accountability and transparency of decision-making processes (European Commission, 2003). Accordingly, these attempts should be supported through sustainable communities that are able to manage resources efficiently, seize environmental protection, support economic growth and the social fabric (Pires et al., 2011, p. 1035).
The latest adoptions from a legal perspective are presented in the New Waste Directive 2008/98/EC by the European Commission 2008 which seeks to improve both, present quality of life, as well as future generations’ through maximizing renewable energy, enlarging recycling, preserving natural ecosystems and seeking for socially acceptable solutions. The prevention of waste and the waste hierarchy are further emphasized, which induces new challenges in the promotion of reuse and recycling, waste prevention programs, selection of technologies, which can enhance WM operations, and also EPR (Pires et al., 2011, p. 1039).
Besides the regulatory developments, the importance of data generation and knowledge sharing is addressed through different systems. These provide besides statistical information, also reference data and further indicators for well-working practices in WM operations along the value chain to support member countries in their waste policies (Pires et al., 2011, p. 1039).
WM’s developments can be broadly combined in 4 broad phases, that are presented in Figure 6. After a certain level of control over WM activities had been reached, solutions for the modernization of WM processes were primarily seen in a technical or engineering manner. However, with changes in the system, the need for cooperation between institutional, governance and policy frameworks became apparent as well a closer cooperation with users. The latter was tackled through targeted public education as well as social marketing to promote desired behavior (Scheinberg, 2011). Generally, incentives for change in the treatment of waste have been started from policies with the introduction of new laws. After certain standards had been accomplished, though, also citizens and politicians started to ask for qualitatively better, sustainable and more thoughtful ways of WM (Bundesamt für Umweltschutz, 1986, p. 22). The prevention of waste has been in the focus ever since.
Especially over the last years, waste quantities have increased drastically and are forecasted to keep growing steadily. These growth rates are attributed to not only to an increasing number of people living and working in cities but also to worldwide increases in wealth. Additonally, waste’s complexity and variety of substances, as well as increasing amounts of waste from businesses enhance this development (Scheinberg et al., 2010).
Figure 6: Development of modern Waste Management (Wilson, 2007, p. 200)
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The overall waste volume generated in the EU in 2012 was recorded to a total of 2.515 million tons of waste, whereby 8% were held by households. Excluding major mineral wastes, each inhabitant in the EU-28 generated 1.8 tons of waste in relation to the population size (Eurostat, 2017). 5.9 billion tons of waste could be generated in 2025 if waste generation in the world followed the average Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) per capita rate. This would result in almost three times the current estimate and sum up to approximately 59 billion cubic meters each year, which can be compared to the country size of Ireland covering it to one-meter height (Anschütz et al., 2004, p. 13). Consequently, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals covers this issue and holds a substantial reduction of waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse in its resolution (United Nations, 2015). Additionally, by 2020, the rate for reuse, recycling, and recovery of municipal solid waste should grow to 50% by weight (European Commission, 2008). On a broader level, the Europe 2020 strategy has been introduced to create a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, specifically enhancing employment, research & development and innovation, climate change and energy, education as well as poverty and social exclusion (Manville et al., 2014, p. 61). Here, climate change is specifically addressed with the 20-20-20 Renewable Energy Directive which sets the target for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 20% cut in energy consumption based on improved energy operations, and 20% increase in renewable energy use (all in comparison with the 1990's level), which requires precise and resounding actions (Zanella et al., 2014, p. 24).
Even though rules and regulations at the higher European level are in place, it is important to understand that no generalized WM practice and system can be applied to all countries due to different cultural backgrounds, political systems, and structures. Member countries need to transpose European law into national law, however, they have the freedom to adopt these regulations to their specific environment (Pires et al., 2011, p. 1039).
Even if regulations and modern WM exist, there are still ongoing challenges in developed countries that present the difficulties that WM incorporates. Only in 2008, collectors stopped picking up waste due to overfilled landfills, which brought the entire system to fall apart and solid waste growing mountains in the streets (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. xxi). Moreover, precise and appropriate systems for evaluation of WM practices and treatment strategies in the different member countries of the EU are missing that allow for an accurate evaluation and potential European interventions (Pires et al., 2011, p. 1044).
Besides the overall goal of waste prevention, waste managers require more efficient operations and better technology. Accordingly, they can keep streets clean and process waste to newest landfills and incinerators with optimized efficiency. This is followed by improvements atrecycling facilities and operations that provide better environmental output in the value chains (Scheinberg, 2011, p. 21).
2.2.3 Waste Management Value Chain
Value is usually associated with a positive economic value and refers to “the amount buyers are willing to pay for what a firm provides" (Porter, 1985, p. 52), which is generated through all value-adding as well as secondary activities that are performed.
In the context of waste, a distinction between different kinds of values need to be considered. Firstly, the most present form of value implies its extrinsic positive economic factor. The “extrinsic economic value" is achieved as soon as collected and sorted materials gain value as secondary material. This refers to both, a sorted material’s further selling (to other industries) as well as recovered materials’ entrance into (new) systems and usage in manufacturing process of new products (McDougall et al., 2001, p. 110; Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 116). Additionally, an “intrinsic economic value" can be generated with the simple reuse of a product that becomes worthless for one person but is worthwhile for another. Here, value either refers to the same form of usage and purpose as they were conceived or the usage in a less complex form. The latter directly implies the third form of value that is produced with waste, which can be stated as the “environmental value". Through the reuse of materials and their return into the life cycle as “new" materials, a decrease of the consumption of raw materials can be accomplished, as well as energy saving and emission reductions (McDougall et al., 2001, pp. 109-111; Scheinberg et al., 2010, pp. 124-126).
To create value from waste (through reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery) several services and activities are required that range from generation and separation to collection, transfer and transport to treatment and disposal. These present a system of interdependent WM activities (Yuan et al., 2011, p. 606), and can also be referred to as the WM value chain.
In the course of the economic division of labor, the individual activities are executed by different economic entities. Withal, each entity incurs products or materials from the upstream entity and contributes to the transformation, processing and reuse to pass the material with higher value to the downstream stages. Thus, the value added can be interpreted as the generated value of one economic entity minus the used materials and assets. Simplified, it is the added value in each processing unit (Hollstein, 2000, p. 346; H. Weber, 1993, p. 2173).
In the waste chain, “waste passes through all the activities of the chain in order and at each activity the volume of waste is minimized by various waste management activities" (Yuan et al., 2011, p. 606). Generally, these activities cover the waste generation (incentive to manage waste, environmental awareness, waste collection, costs of collection), reduction (regulation, incentive to manage waste, environmental awareness, on-site sorting of waste, costs of waste sorting, disposal cost savings, transportation cost saving), reuse (ratio of reuse, cost of waste reuse, disposal cost saving, purchasing cost saving, transportation cost saving), recycling (ratio of recycling, cost of waste recycling, disposal cost saving, purchasing cost saving, transportation cost saving), and disposal (illegal disposal, regulation, waste disposal to landfill, sectors disposal cost, unit landfill charge, transportation cost, environment cost) (Yuan et al., 2011, p. 607).
Figure 7: The Value Chain in Waste Management (based on Caruso et al., 1993, p. 16;Cleary, 2009, p. 1259; European Commission, 2008; Kranert & Cord-Landwehr, 2010, p. 459; Lemser et al., 1999, p. 55; McDougall et al., 2001, pp. 108-115; Yuan et al., 2011, p. 607)
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In the scope of this thesis, the WM value chain follows the general definition of activities in WM, defined by the Directive 2008/98/EC (European Commission, 2008, Article 3). However, it is complemented by the life cycle and material flow approaches as well as the Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) concept to gain more detailed activities. Figure 7 depicts the composed WM value chain, which is based on prior research from Caruso et al. (1993), Cleary (2009), European Commission (2008), Kranert & Cord-Landwehr (2010), Lemser et al. (1999), McDougall et al. (2001) and Yuan et al. (2011).
The WM value chain is embedded in a more complex context as it receives inputs on the one hand from other energy and material sources, on the other hand produces outputs to other industries (Kranert & Cord-Landwehr, 2010). The flows into and out of the system can be viewed within a LCA. Therefore, it is important to define the cradle and grave of WM. The cradle starts at the moment a product is perceived to be valueless for the owner and is thrown away, followed shortly in time by its collection or delivery. This also refers to the moment that waste leaves its property. After its transport, the wastes' grave is represented in its “final disposal back into the environment" (McDougall et al., 2001, p. 109) which is reached as soon as waste is fossilized as landfill material or converted into water or air emissions. When waste is reused, recovered or recycled, it regains value and ceases to be a waste to stays in the life cycle (Cleary, 2009, pp. 1260-1261).
WM's activities in the value chain follow the purpose of either disposing or reusing waste in a given manner. For the disposal, this refers to sustainable and environmental-friendly final storages, while reusability seeks for the utilization of materials for the purpose of recycling of materials (potential of materials) or an energetic utilisation (usage as substitute fuel) (Lemser et al., 1999, pp. 55-57).
Inside the value chain, the collection generally refers to organized mechanical as well as physical activities to gather wastes from households, waste collecting points, public spaces and any other points of waste generation. Consequently, the removal of wastes followed by its transport to waste treatment facilities is executed (European Commission, 2008, Article 3; Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, 2013). The process either moves along a separate collection, in which specific types of materials are collected in different containers being gathered a certain time, or happens within a collective and non-separate gathering. The transport includes a compaction, size reduction and pre-sorting of wastes and moves waste to its treatment destination. Wastes' sorting presents an optional activity, depending on the specific waste sector and local processes (private or public). It is the separation of materials, which can either take place mechanically or manually and presents the preparation for secondary materials to be returned into further production processes resp. the system without adding value to them (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 215).
The decision whether to recycle, incinerate or dispose is based on the specific type of waste and its composition. Hence, treatments' downstream processes differ, as well as involved parties. Here, recycling refers to any operation that reprocesses waste into products, materials or substances whether for the original or other purposes (European Commission, 2008, Article 3). In WM, recycling is the most favorable form of treatment since is evokes considerably less environmental pollution than the production of natural resources (Köglmeier et al., 2010, p. 1886).
Since recycling does not include the return of energy into the system, this is presented specifically in the form of incineration. Incineration allows to create energy from waste and return it into the waste life cycle or other industries. Recycling and incineration are based on the recoverability of materials. However, certain materials must not be recovered due to their composition and are therefore disposed in storage sites, i.e. landfills, which are designated by the municipalities (Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 214).
To establish a sustainable WM of the future, a value chain and life cycle economy need to be established which allows for an efficient usage and recovery with littlest losses of resources. Thus, resources need to be handled considerably more efficient. This does not only concern the players directly involved in the value chain of WM but rather the entire society, as well as world economies (Köglmeier et al., 2010, p. 1883). Therefore, not only the value chain needs to be considered, but also the entire ecosystem in which it is located.
2.2.4 The Waste Management Ecosystem
Incorporated in a larger surrounding, WM presents a vital part of every day's life and ensures people's well-being with the provision of products and services along with their waste generation and consumption. WM in a holistic way can be related to the term of an ecosystem, which can be broadly defined as a “complex causal network of various living organisms and their inorganic surroundings" (Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2010, p. 328).
Generally, the term “ecosystem" is widely used among different areas, covering terms such as natural or biological ecosystem, industrial ecosystem, business and digital business ecosystem as well as the social ecosystem. The application areas differ and so do their specific definitions. However, they all refer to a system of organisms that performs certain activities in a closed surrounding, being closely associated, influenced by and also influencing the physical environment with which they interact. By this, they become “nodes in networks of relationships" (Rothschild, 1990, p. 213), in which organisms are dependent on each other to reach effectiveness and survival (Iansiti & Levien, 2004, pp. 8-9).
For the survival of an entire ecosystem, a key feature is presented in its ability to cope with new situations from the inside or outside at all time by at least one out of a variety of distinct species (Peltoniemi & Vuori, 2008, p. 269). Generally, each individual ecosystem has to stem key phenomena of competition, specialization, cooperation, exploitation, learning, and growth that can be related to nature, industrial manufacturers and suppliers, consumers or legal institutions. Those phenomena exist between direct and indirect competitors, who, as circumstances change, may also become collaborators. This being said, the surroundings of ecosystems enable organisms to evolve, engage and interact (Peltoniemi & Vuori, 2008).
Nonetheless, there are major differences between the broad concepts of natural, business, industrial and social ecosystems. In natural ecosystems (which present the origin of the word ecosystem), the ecosystem “is considered to be a unit of biological organization made up of all of the organisms in a given area [...] interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to characteristic trophic structure and material cycles within the system" (Odum, 2005, p. 58). It refers to ecological and natural processes that allow energy to pass in different forms as a result to complex interactions between living organisms and chemical as well as physical components in the universal matter. Based on this, benefits can be derived by humans such as e.g. food production or waste treatment (de Groot et al., 2002, p. 394). Organisms in natural ecosystems choose habits as well as behavior and live in the present to ensure their survival. While innovation or future prospectives are not included in this concept, they are in business ecosystems.
Business ecosystems deal with a different flow of energy. The energy is analogous to resources, which include capital that should be used efficiently for the ecosystem’s prosperity (Power & Jerjian, 2001, p. 263). Being part of such an ecosystem, the businesses do not present unconnected organisms, but gain significant improvements from innovation, cooperative work, and competitive product support. Business ecosystems make use of conscious choice by evaluating and understanding actions and their varying possible outcomes. Moreover, survival presents a key element of business ecosystems, especially presented by their aiming for customer satisfaction. However, their ambitions relate to posterior innovation creation to ensure future success. To reach such innovation, the ecosystems consist of organizations with origins in different industries (Iansiti & Levien, 2004, pp. 35-39; Moore, 1996, pp. 15-18).
Industrial ecosystems, as presented by Frosch & Gallopoulos (1989), refer to an integration of formerly isolated steps and material flows that are executed by the multiple players in an industry sector to create more sustainability in a globalized world. This industrial ecosystem optimizes energy and material consumption, minimizes waste generation and improves processes. In addition, the maintenance of living standards without adversely affecting the environment is based on an integration of both, manufacturers and consumers. By that, not only raw material supplies may be decreased, but also the increasing problems of waste and pollution may be tackled as well as sustainable development in industrial operations may be reached (Frosch & Gallopoulos, 1989; Peltoniemi & Vuori, 2008).
A major component, which is highly relevant in the technologically advanced environment, has been missing out in the previously mentioned concepts. Therefore, the term of digital business ecosystems is introduced, which includes the “adoption of Internet-based technologies for business” (Nachira, 2002, p. 10). By utilizing adaptive and scalable technologies, new business models can be developed. This kind of ecosystem is built upon intelligent Software (SW) components and services, interaction among business processes and knowledge transfer that are merged by a SW environment with self-organizing behavior (Nachira, 2002).
For the sake of completeness, the term social ecosystem is presented. It refers to organizations and firms that co-evolve in a social ecosystem. Here, an “organization is a fully participating agent which both influences and is influenced by the social ecosystem made up of all related businesses, consumers, and suppliers, as well as economic, cultural, and legal institutions" (Mitleton-Kelly, 2003, p. 32). All actions that are undertaken by one entity affect the whole ecosystem, presenting their power and responsibility at the same time.
Ecosystems can be further broken down through the lense of complexity. Their complex construct appears due to the inter-relationship, interaction, and interconnectivity of elements within a system and between a system and its environment. Decisions of individuals (groups, organizations, etc.) have an effect on others, while impact differs for on each corresponding party based on their interdependence and connectivity. Closely related to connectivity is the co-evolution of parties where “the evolution of one domain or entity is partially dependent on the evolution of other related domains or entities" (Mitleton- Kelly, 2003, p. 30). This phenomenon always takes place within an ecosystem and not in separation. Hence, co-evolution affects on the one hand entities in an ecosystem, but on the other hand also their relationships and interactions, which is an important factor that needs to be considered. Complexity should be approached by the analysis of different subsets of interactions between entities that are relevant for the investigated case (Holling, 2001, p. 391).
For their survival in a complex environment, entities need to explore their spaces of possibilities and create variety. Here, retrieving novel functions of already existing objects, namely “exaptation" is useful. Exaptation may be exploited in an explorative manner by using building blocks that already exist but putting them together in a novel way, which is called the “adjacent possible" (Kaufmann, 2000, pp. 130-131). This concept is expandable in an infinite manner.
However, exaptation does not present the only possibility to create novelty and variety. Pulling new technology to enable and attract further developments, called “path dependence", serves the same manner. New technology clusters may only have a limited acknowledgment in the beginning, but gain increasing importance over time by successful proof-of-concepts. By that, technology has the power to eventually change the way business is conducted and even influence society's behavior (Mitleton-Kelly, 2003, pp. 17-19).
Complexity is enhanced by a multi-dimensional view on ecosystems. These dimensions are of social, cultural, technical, economic and global matter and impinge upon one another. Therefore, ecosystems should be evolved and evaluated at a macro level to include all possible affections on the dimensions. Accordingly, the gained knowledge about connectivity, interdependence, exaptation, and path-dependence need to be shared to create sustainability, innovation, and survival in a fast changing environment (Mitleton-Kelly, 2003). Generally, interdependencies on a certain level, as well as their interrelations enhance the complexity in such systems but need to be considered to create performing solutions.
Previous research discusses ecosystems mainly in conceptual broad terms and a specific WM Ecosystem, related to those concepts presented above, has also not been addressed yet.
The topic is rather analyzed in the context of the ISWM framework (Figure 8), which incorporates not only stakeholder that are involved and affected by WM, but also tasks which are executed to process waste's flow, and sustainability aspects to improve solid waste system's performance (Anschütz et al., 2004, pp. 18-20; Scheinberg et al., 2010, p. 23).
ISWM partially covers the aspects of cooperation and interconnectivity when looking at its stakehold- ers. This framework recognizes the importance of stakeholders' co-operation for a common purpose which is presented in the improvement of the waste system. However, the indispensable need that rests on their interaction is missing. Additional dimensions that allow for a macro-perspective view are considered through the different sustainability aspects in the form of financials as well as legal, political, institutional, environmental and socio-cultural aspects that influence the system's activities and its sustainability. Closely related to the thoughts of an ecosystem is ISWM's reference to the flow of materials which starts with the extraction of natural resources, followed by its processing, production, and consumption leading to its final stage of treatment and disposal (McDougall et al., 2001, p. 18; White et al., 1995, p. 16).
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Figure 8: Integrated Solid Waste Management (Anschütz et al., 2004, p. 18)
The ISWM includes specific principles that play a crucial role in WM, and need to be considered when utilizing the concept: equity, fairness, sustainability, effectiveness, and efficiency. As such, the system needs to serve everybody, even if not necessarily at the same time (equity), costs need to be split suitably and not to the detriment of the poor (fairness), and stable operations on a daily basis need to be ensured when (long-term) changes are introduced (sustainability). In addition, the processes of collection and disposal have to be effective as well as efficient, which is related to the measurement of waste services e.g. per household, ton of waste, labor or energy. With the ISWM framework, technically appropriate, socially acceptable and economically viable solutions to WM issues are addressed (Anschütz et al., 2004, pp. 18-24). These represent the dimensions of sustainability, which are highly important for WM (Anschütz et al., 2004, pp. 18-20).
As technology is seen as a key enabler for improvements in ecosystems and also the STS, the potentials, and variety of the IoT will be further elaborated in the subsequent chapter.
2.3 The Internet of Things and its Application Areas
2.3.1 Definition of IoT
Cutting-edge technologies have always allowed organizations to adopt new structures, forms and activities to enable changes in the way business is conducted (Hevner et al., 2004, p. 78). The IoT has been credited to be the promising technology for the future which has the power to drive innovations in the widest variety of industries (Atzori et al., 2010, p. 2787). Therefore, innovation possibilities and change not only refer to IoT's potential of increasing (business) processes' efficiency, but also to its ability of improving entire societies with the provision of full information infrastructures (Shin, 2014, pp. 521527). Consequently, additional value at stake will be created if this innovation is intelligently connected and combined with processes, things, data and people (Alam et al., 2013, p. 112).
The very basic idea of the IoT is represented in its use of ICT and ability to connect all kinds of real- world devices and objects which are able to cooperate and communicate with each other. Based on the interconnectivity of devices, a large number of heterogeneous things are consequently equipped with increased smartness (Atzori et al., 2010, pp. 2787-2788). Among these “things" are personal objects, such as smartphones, elements in the environment, e.g. vehicles, houses, lightning, and any other devices which are provided with a tag resp. sensor that allows generating certain data (Coetzee & Eksteen, 2011, p. 2).
Previous research has created several definitions for the IoT, which view the concept from a semantic- oriented, things-oriented or Internet-oriented point-of-view (Atzori et al., 2010). Semantically, the IoT is defined as “a world-wide network of interconnected objects uniquely addressable, based on standard communication protocols" (CASAGRAS, 2009, p. 11). However, the semantic-oriented definition lacks IoT's capabilities which go beyond the mere ability of interconnected networks and uniquely identifiable objects. Including characteristics of the things-oriented approaches, which elaborate on specific technologies such as Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID), Near Field Communications (NFC), Wireless Sensor and Actuator Networks (WSAN), smart items are introduced that create the link between real world objects and the digital world. These entail their own personalities and autonomy, being connected and able to communicate with society, environment and users (Atzori et al., 2010, p. 2789). These approaches are complemented by the Internet-oriented vision which implies the use of light protocols that include low power consuming devices. The latter presents a necessity for a connected world bringing IoT to reality (Gershenfeld et al., 2004).
Since IoT reaches its full potential in the combination of these approaches, it is defined in the course of this thesis as a “global network infrastructure, linking physical and virtual objects through the exploitation of data capture and communication capabilities. This infrastructure includes existing and evolving Internet and network developments. It will offer specific object-identification, sensor and connection capability as the basis for the development of independent cooperative services and applications. These will be characterized by a high degree of autonomous data capture, event transfer, network connectivity and interoperability" (CASAGRAS, 2009, p. 10). This definition is complemented by the interconnectivity to people and embedded intelligence that smart objects establish by enabling “intelligent sense, prediction and response to physical world situations" (He et al., 2010, p. 327).
Generally, the IoT has the potential to add value to businesses and consumers based on several drivers (Fleisch, 2010, pp. 8-12):
- Simplified manual proximity trigger, which create efficiency increases as well as cost savings through the communication of object's identities to other gateways or sensors as soon as they find themselves in a defined proximity,
- automatic proximity trigger, which automatically trigger a transaction when the connection between two sensing objects drops below or above a threshold. By that, not only increases in accuracy of operations, but also speed can be accomplished that reduces (failure) costs,
- automatic sensor triggering, which enhances the first value drivers with the provision of additional information from sensors, such as temperature, humidity, noise, localization, smell or others to establish more effective and efficient real-time operations,
- automatic product security, which is created through the provision of product-related security allowing to authenticate, authorize and validate objects,
- simple and direct user feedback, which allows users to receive remarks (audio or visual signals) whether their actions were executed successfully or not,
- extensive user feedback, which enhances the simple user feedback by additional graphical representations within the user interface in the form of augmented reality. Consequently, a new way to establish connections and better user experiences is generated that provides additional economic value, and
- mind-changing feedback, which connects physical activities and physical world to digital information that are gathered from data in objects. By that, people's behavior can be traced and reconstructed more precisely.
These value drivers facilitate next to better decision-making, more accurate situative analyses, a creation of more integrated approaches to decision-planning, process automation and optimization. This allows decreased costs as well as the creation of new business models which were not feasible in the past (Chui et al., 2010; He et al., 2010, pp. 328-329). However, the applicability to and resolution of technical and business challenges present a major obstacle that every IoT solution needs to overcome (Pang et al., 2015, p. 291).
Generally, the IoT aims at creating connectivity, which takes place “any-time" at “any-place" with “anyone" and “any-thing". By that, the IoT moves beyond the Internet which did only include people but not things (Coetzee & Eksteen, 2011, p. 3). However, based on these envisioning characteristics, a new centralized architecture is required which allows establishing the interconnectivity of a heterogeneous and dense set of devices. Additionally it is required to cope with the massive amounts of data with different data types that need to be stored and processed after their delivery into a database (Delicato et al., 2013, p. 25). This establishes an IoT system, that requires characteristics of different kinds of technologies' integrity within existing or new communication infrastructures, and the provision of access to the collected data to authorities and citizens (Zanella et al., 2014, p. 25).
For the creation of an IoT system that is able to provide smartness, further capabilities need to be established. These include sensing and monitoring of heterogeneous devices in a system to collect detailed data and create information. Additionally, a fast processing of information, which takes decisions in a reliable manner, acting and control mechanism that allow to implement decisions accurately and shortly in time as well as (wireless) communication capabilities that ensures the communication among sensors, processors and other objects are required. Moreover, security and privacy preserving mechanism have to be embedded, as well as standardizations, the semantic interoperability, and an efficient data management. Therefore, the precise identification of smart objects is necessary. The previously mentioned capabilities are complemented by the need for energy-optimized solutions and the solution's scalability. These capabilities build the foundation for further smart operations in the IoT system that are based on big data- and predictive analytics. Furthermore, the capability of a smart system to heal occurring problems without any human intervention and the possibilities for prevention mechanism represent the ultimate level that may be accomplished (Debnath et al., 2014, p. 49; Delicato et al., 2013, p. 26; Miorandi et al., 2012, pp. 1499-1502).
From a high-level perspective (Figure 9), the IoT consists of four layers. A hardware layer entails things and objects with sensor nodes or other tags, actuators as well as gateways which allow creating a connection to the various sensor nodes. This layer is required for the data generation from things. Middleware is demanded to ensure storage as well as computing power for analytics, while the application layer not only visualizes outputs of data analyses, but also allows for interactions with the generated information in the Graphical User Interface (GUI) (Gubbi et al., 2013, p. 5). Additionally, a networking layer is required to ensure the (peer-to-peer) data transmission from sensor nodes to gateways and middleware, which refers to a data infrastructure (Atzori et al., 2010, p. 2791; He et al., 2010; Madakam et al., 2015, p. 167; Shin, 2014, p. 525).
Figure 9: High-level Perspective on Internet of Things Layers (own figure)
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Questions that are addressed in the context of the IoT refer to its potential application areas. Firstly, it needs to be clarified, if the potential application area is ready for any IoT integration. If it is, questions towards specific technology selection, implementation (also regarding cost and resource funding), security and regulation need to be considered. Secondly, a core challenge for the IoT is depicted in the aggregation of heterogeneous services, technologies, and components provided and executed by different user groups, which need to collaborate in a future smart world. In addition, IoT’s efficient use by society has to come to the fore as it presents an enormous complexity of interaction of multiple stakeholders and technology. However, if countries seek to stay competitive, there will not be any other option besides the active participating and pushing of IoT developments hand in hand with the successful integration of the IoT into society.
IoT’s success is largely depending on people’s acceptance, as these are not only users but “integral parts" of the system. Therefore, key issues of security, privacy and standards need to be addressed (Shin, 2014, pp. 526-528).
- Quote paper
- Sina Reubelt (Author), 2017, Waste Management in the smart city. Future possibilities with the integration of "Internet of Things" (IoT) technologies, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/899948