Environmental justice studies that focus on the management of municipal solid waste (MSW) typically examine the unequal distribution of associated health and environmental risks in minority social groups and the political processes that generate these inequalities. With the aim to complement current views on the field, in this work, we explore whether there is an issue of environmental justice in municipal systems' grade of self-sufficiency in treating the MSW that they generate and in their effort to close their material cycles. The methodology used is based on the concept of urban metabolism and is applied to 12 coastal municipalities of Barcelona's Metropolitan Region in Spain. The metabolism of the MSW flows of each system is analysed to examine (i) the system's efficiency to close its MSW cycles, corresponding to an indicator of environmental sustainability, and (ii) the MSW export and import flows, as an indicator of social sustainability. The results demonstrate a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and the externalisation of MSW treatment-related hazards. The proposed indicator proves to be an excellent tool for the evaluation of both the environmental and social performance of a system considering MSW management. © 2013 © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
- Barcelona Metropolitan Region
- environmental justice
- municipal solid-waste management
- social metabolism
- urban sustainability