Improved cost estimation for solid waste management in industrialising regions
Parthan, Shantha Rashmi
Thesis DisciplineCivil Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The need for improving cost estimation for solid waste management (SWM) is particularly strong in emerging (industrialising) economies where problems of solid waste are severe, expectations for improvements are high, but finances are constrained. Using literature-based evaluation, traditional methods used to estimate costs of SWM in industrialising regions are classified into two categories- the unit cost method and benchmarking techniques. These current approaches are unable to satisfy two important SWM objectives in industrialising regions- 1. provide an understanding of variables affecting costs of SWM in developing countries, which in turn helps in developing a sound financing strategy, and 2. ensure that scarce financial resources are used to best effect while planning for increasing populations, and raising service levels in developing countries The development of cost models using the cost function approach, which are sometimes used as a cost estimation technique for developed countries' waste management case studies, is deemed as an improvement over current cost estimation approaches for SWM used in industrialising regions. The usefulness, applications and limitations of the cost function approach for developing countries is shown in four ways. First, the application of the cost function methodology to a developing country dataset is shown using data from approximately 300 Indian municipalities. Second, future developmental scenario analyses is conducted at the city level to estimate marginal costs to improve solid waste management (SWM) to handle increasing populations and to raise the level of service. Third, the basic intents for conducting cost function analyses are categorised based on the rich experiences from another public service with many similar characteristics, namely the healthcare sector, and translated for easy understanding for future solid waste engineers. Finally, the potential implications of the health care analyses on the developing city case study demonstrates the way forward in terms of the most important data that needs to be collected and future cost analyses that needs to be conducted. The results from this work indicate a strong need for careful selection and management of data, and awareness of the challenges that developing country datasets pose. The thesis is designed to encourage planners in developing countries to ditch heuristic thinking when planning improvements to SWM, and instead adopt modern rational methods to make cost-wise decisions. Specifically, this thesis provides solid waste management analysts the necessary tools to gather, analyse and interpret cost information in a way that facilitates planning of restricted finances in industrialising regions.