Making waste/discard flows visible at a city level

We were really intrigued by Fixfest speaker @Felipe_Fonseca’s post about his research, turning “smart city” on its head.

The London Waste and Recycling Board was too!

Thinking that data volunteer @Elena’s personal project to track London waste flows (using available data) could be of real interest to @Felipe_Fonseca.

Greater interest than ever, and funding

For the first time we are hearing that the statutory “producers” of electronics (who are tasked with dealing with electronic waste) want to understand the flow of reused electronics, with a view to counting them towards collection targets.

There is funding from one of the producer compliance schemes to research how to reduce “consumer confusion over WEEE recycling”, something we’ve flagged to friend-of-Restart researcher @Lara_Houston.

Lastly there is something important here in language - Josh Lepawsky and others prefer to talk about “discards” as this prevents potentially working and/or reusable products in becoming statutory waste, and end-of-life.


Thanks for weaving this comment, @Janet. Hi @Elena, where can I read more about your work?

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Hi @Felipe_Fonseca

I’m not sure if this is the latest iteration of @Elena’s work, but I know she has a git repository on it here:

With initial work on visualisation here:

Also that @James_Diamond has an interest and was looking at it with Elena.

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Hi Felipe,

I probably have more recent work than what’s on there.

The data is at local authority level and can be aggregated easily to city or regional level. Recycled materials are very detailed (aluminium/steel/nylon/compost), and so are the sources (e-waste/batteries/carpet/matrass/food waste). You also know the destination processing facility and it’s location.

Before new year I was in touch with people curating that dataset to clarify definitions of how to accurately measure tonnes of waste by material, in order to reconsile against government’s internal reports. It’s not a trivial dataset in that regard.

Great that you expressed an interest, I’ll pick this up again and share with you. Would be nice to keep the project going. Would you like to connect on a separate channel for more details?

For example, I have ideas on how to probabilistically estimate recycling at more granular level than local authority.


Thanks @neil, and nice to connect @Elena. I will mail you in a minute.