The article “Robust information for effective municipal solid waste policies: Identifying behaviour of waste generation across spatial levels of organization” by J.M. Torrente, Rosaria Chifari (ENT), M. Rippa and M. Giampietro has been published in Waste Management.
Existing studies have studied influencing factors of MSW generation behaviour at different spatial levels of organization, but always one at a time and not simultaneously. Income is a strong influencing factor, affecting MSW generation from the individual to the country level, capable of hiding the effects of the others. This study shows that when MSW generation behaviour is holistically analysed across multiple levels of organization (individuals, households, and communities) hierarchically organized as functional units of MSW generation within a specific study area, it is possible to identify influencing factors in addition to income (education, demographic, health, ethnic, economic activity and financial types) as explanatory variables. Increasing the number of influencing factors of MSW generation makes it possible to create a robust knowledge base for MSW management policies in fast-growing urban areas of developing countries, improving the information used to select proper policies and plans within their MSW management systems and avoiding overlapping policies causing legal gaps. Betania, an urban area ofthe Panama City district, has been chosen as a case study area. The results show that the household income explains 86% of its members´ MSW generation and the community indigenous population explains 21% of households´ MSW generation. It is concluded that MSW generation is not linear across levels, it has as many degrees of freedom as influencing factors shaping the levels of organization where functional units generating waste exist. Influencing factors appearing at each spatial level affects MSW generation in an interdependent manner in variable degrees of magnitude.