A multi-scale analysis of urban waste metabolism: Density of waste disposed in Campania

Giacomo D'Alisa, Maria Federica Di Nola, Mario Giampietro

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53 Citations (Scopus)


The waste crisis in Campania has inspired a vast amount of studies. Nevertheless, very little research has been done to explain the figures of waste generation and disposal in the region. The analyses carried out so far according to the indicators used by official statistics-i.e. Waste Generated, Waste Generated per capita and Separate Collection-fail to represent this hot spot case. This paper attempts to bridge this gap. Adopting the rationale of a new accounting system, the Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM), two waste indicators are proposed to complement the conventional ones: the Metabolic Rate of Waste and the Density of Waste. Then a multi-scale analysis of the Density of Waste Disposed (DWD) tests its suitability to characterise Campania's waste patterns. The data cover the period from 1999 to 2007. The results show that the DWD complements available indicators and further helps to explain the biophysical pressure and ecological unsustainability of the waste management in the region. The multi-scale analysis shows that regional data hide a relevant territorial diversity, emergent in the provincial analysis and even more so in the municipal one. These results have implications for governance and for the debate about mono-scale versus multi-scale solutions to waste management problems. Finally, the analysis allows some analytical generalisations on the suitability of the DWD to detect situations of potential waste crisis in other study-contexts. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Campania
  • Density of waste disposed
  • I-PAT
  • Multi-scale analysis
  • Urban waste metabolism
  • Waste indicators


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