A Decision Support Tool for Cost Effective and Environmentally Sound Solid Waste Management

What is WastePlan?

WastePlan is a user-friendly computer-based model to facilitate integrated solid waste planning and analysis.  Initially developed by Tellus Institute in 1988, WastePlan has been continually enhanced and updated to meet the changing need of public agencies and researchers. In 2002 WastePlan was completely revised to provide an easier-to-use interface, more powerful modeling features, improved reporting, and enhanced linkage capability with other programs and databases, such as Excel.

With WastePlan you can "build" and run a comprehensive, integrated solid waste management system right on your computer screen.  You describe a community or region's waste generation, with any number of distinct sectors and waste types.  Generated wastes are routed into programs (which you define) of source reduction, recycling, composting, special wastes, and garbage collection.  Finally, you route the collected wastes to existing or planned facilities, which may be transfer stations, recycling or composting facilities, incinerators, or landfills. 

The results describe your simulation of an existing or planned solid waste system.  Waste flows, diversion rates, processing and disposal capacity needs, and total costs can be presented in a choice of output formats.  It is easy to change assumptions about technology, efficiency, costs, or performance of any part of the system to see their impact on results.

What issues can WastePlan help address?

WastePlan is generally used to conduct the following types of analyses:  

         Integrated solid waste management planningWastePlan provides a framework for conducting integrated analyses of specific information pertaining to waste generation and composition, collection systems, and processing and disposal facilities for a particular locality or region. Thus, within a single framework, a user can gain a more comprehensive understanding of how specific source reduction, recycling, and composting alternatives interact to affect collection, processing, and disposal system costs and operations.

         Full cost accounting: Through appropriate accounting and assignment of solid waste system costs, WastePlan facilitates least cost system planning for any combination of collection, processing and disposal options.  It also helps users identify specific cost centers in the system.

         Capacity/waste flow analysis: Detailed tracking of materials from the point of generation through the entire collection, processing and disposal system allows the user to identify specific quantities of materials diverted to source reduction, recycling, composting and solid waste collection programs and associated facilities.

         Data organization and management: Standardized data input and output screens provide consistency in data collection and processing. This helps solid waste managers ask the right kind of questions and seek the most useful data for analyzing their integrated solid waste system.

         Sensitivity/scenario analysis: The number of sensitivity analyses that can be conducted in WastePlan is virtually unlimited.  WastePlan allows easy development of alternative scenarios, which may contain any number of different assumptions about the generation, collection, and facility systems.

Where has WastePlan been used?

WastePlan has been used by dozens of municipal, state, federal, and international agencies.  State waste management agencies have adopted WastePlan for planning and training programs in Missouri, Indiana, Florida, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, and other states. Local agencies that use WastePlan range from New York City's Department of Sanitation to a regional planning board in North Dakota. 

WastePlan is also used widely for research purposes at Tellus Institute and at consulting firms and universities around the world. Tellus has used WastePlan in projects to address a range of issues including: preparing regional integrated waste management plans, quantifying the potential for and cost implications of specific source reduction programs, and evaluating the environmental impacts of specific waste management options. Contact Tellus for more information on any of our WastePlan projects.

How can I obtain WastePlan?

WastePlan runs on IBM-compatible computers, Windows 95 or later.  Click here to download a working demonstration version of the recently upgraded WastePlan. The demo is the same in every respect as the actual software currently in use EXCEPT that you cannot save changes to any data. However, a sample data set has been included to provide a better understanding of how the software interface and reports work. Click here to learn how to license a full working version of WastePlan. We also recommend that you download a copy of the WastePlan 5.0 Userís Guide.

For more information or to discuss licensing WastePlan, please contact:

James Goldstein
Senior Research Director