Resource productivity and waste

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Materials Management



The OECD report “Greenhouse gas emissions and the potential for mitigation from materials management within OECD countries” provides support to governments in showing the importance of using a life-cycle approach to analyse GHG mitigation options from materials management. Further, the literature suggests that substantial emission reductions can be achieved at low or zero costs. Consult the Policy Brief on this topic.

Due to the integrated stages of materials production, consumption and end-of-life management, a systems view is needed to assess GHG emissions associated with materials and waste.

When viewed from a life-cycle perspective, GHG emissions arising from material management activities are estimated in this study to account for 55 to 65 percent of national emissions for four OECD member countries. This suggests that there is a significant opportunity to potentially reduce emissions through modification and expansion of materials management policies.

Integrated waste management practices represent one set of materials management options available that can achieve GHG reductions in OECD member countries.

An order-of magnitude estimate of life-cycle GHG reductions across potential municipal solid waste management scenarios shows that achievable reductions are on the order of current annual emissions from the conventional waste sector quantified in OECD countries’ GHG inventories. In other words, in most countries, at least 4 percent of current annual GHG emissions could be mitigated if waste management practices were improved.