Measuring Environmental Degradation
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Measuring Environmental Degradation

Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe

Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale

Measuring Environmental Degradation is a unique book that provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the key issues of environmental significance addressed as part of the Eurostat ‘Environmental Pressure Indicators Project’. The book is part of the ‘Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU’ (TEPI) series that has resulted from the project.
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Chapter 31: Guidelines for an environmentally compatible management of waste

F. Cecchi and P. Pavan


F. Cecchi and P. Pavan 1. INTRODUCTION The problems of waste production and management can be understood with reference to the concept of entropy, which has been developed in recent years. According to the entropy law, all transformations in nature involve an entropy (disorder) increase, and waste must be considered as part of the production cycle. Therefore, entropy can be considered as a measurement of the required energy to restore a situation to the original state, before change. Applying this approach to waste production, we should look at entropy increase (disorder increase) in order to see how much energy is necessary to obtain the original situation. In fact, recycling or energy recovery from waste is a way of minimizing entropy (or disorder) increase. However, in applying this rule we should be aware that it is impossible to have 100 per cent process efficiency and that it is impossible to avoid dissipation of some amount of energy, however small, in any production process. Meanwhile, the optimal equilibrium depends on the market and political choices that are made worldwide. In fact, local modification of this equilibrium could create local negative repercussions on employment and production levels, and thus lead to negative social effects. Although the quality of waste to be disposed of is an important aspect of the waste problem, the main problem related to waste is the trend for increased production, despite initiatives for separate collections, recycling and so on, which have been adopted in recent years. Difficulties...

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