Integrated Sustainable Waste management (ISWM)

Accomplishing sustainable waste management and a thriving business environment to support that:

Introducing a new system means a big change in how things are done. A sustainable system can only be robust and sustainable if different dimensions are taken into account when setting up, building and shaping the system. We use the ISWM (Integrated Sustainable Waste Management) methodology that we applied successfully in the field.

ISWM helps us understand the WHO, HOW and WHAT of waste management and change. The model recognizes three important dimensions:

  • Multiple stakeholders working together.
  • Building a stable service and value chain in waste management.
  • Enabling aspects that ensure sustainability.

To create the right synergy within and between these elements we have developed the following approaches as part of the ISWM methodology:


  • A true circular economy is zero waste. Nothing is thrown away, because waste is designed out by making things for repair, disassembly and reuse.
  • If this industrial cycle is to be sustainable, then the energy that powers it needs to be entirely renewable. This also reduces businesses exposure to resource depletion or supply shocks.


  • There are two types of industrial ‘ingredients’: disposable and durable. Disposable ingredients are those that can biodegrade, such as paper or fabric. Second, there are ‘technical’ ingredients like metal or plastic that can be reused.
  • Things must be one or the other so that everything can be either reused or put back into nature.


  • Customers are no longer consumers, but users. This means that companies will want the materials back when you’re done with them.
  • That could mean an incentive to return things at the end of their useful life, or it could mean more leasing, renting and sharing.

Circular Economy

In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognizes the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organizations and individuals, globally and locally.Looking beyond the current “take, make and dispose” extractive industrial model, the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design.

Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimizing negative impacts. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital.

The circular economy model synthesizes several major schools of thought. They include the functional service economy (performance economy) of Walter Stahel; the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy of William McDonough and Michael Braungart; bio-mimicry as articulated by Janine Benyus; the industrial ecology of Reid Lifset and Thomas Graedel; natural capitalism by Amory and Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken; and the blue economy systems approach described by Gunter Pauli.