Invited Session: Circular Economy

Accounting for Non-hazardous Industrial Waste in the United States (0.5 CEU)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
14:45 – 15:15
Room 319

Moderator: Frank Caponi, Division Engineer, Air Quality Engineering, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, California

In contrast to municipal waste, non-hazardous industrial waste (NHIW) is vastly under-studied, owing in part to a lack of a U.S. federal mandate to track its management and the nature of its production, which limits even simplified top-down estimates using economic data. In fact, confidence in any official or popularly accepted NHIW estimates crumbles under even modest interrogation, leaving behind a major gap in the national accounting of material flows that is essential to gauge progress towards resource and materials management goals. On the basis of a broad array of data sources and models, we present a method to populate the first reliable, economy-wide account of NHIW in the U.S. Our results reflect a robust, repeatable and updatable estimate of roughly 300 million metric tons per year. Our approach evaluates NHIW generation quantity and composition at the industry level and disposition (landfilling, recycling, and beneficial use) at the state level. With such detail, opportunities for increased circularity can be systematically identified whereby underutilized wastes (such as ash, slag, sludge, etc.) can be effectively substituted for raw materials in other sectors, thereby taking strides towards a more sustainable materials management.

Following this presentation, the audience will be able to:

  • COMPREHEND non-hazardous industrial waste flows in the U.S.
  • EXAMINE newly-developed approaches to understand non-hazardous industrial waste flows and understand higher and better uses compared to current management
  • COMPARE industrial waste generation, recycling, disposal and beneficial use behavior from industry to industry and from state to state
  • APPRECIATE the importance of effective waste accounting in both measuring and enabling transitions to a more circular economy
  • ENVISION new opportunities for the large-scale beneficial use and recycling of non-hazardous industrial waste


Jonathan Krones, Postdoctoral Associate, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Connecticut

Jonathan Krones

Jonathan Krones is postdoctoral associate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, working under the supervision of Professor Marian Chertow in the Center for Industrial Ecology. His research involves the use of innovative industrial ecology methods to quantify the stocks and flows of waste materials throughout the economy to identify opportunities for improving resource efficiency and reducing environmental impacts via the large-scale reuse and recycling of wastes. His current work is focused on the development and use of the first economy-wide estimate of non-hazardous industrial waste generation in the United States in more than 30 years. He received a Ph.D. degree in engineering systems from MIT and a Master’s degree in Earth resources engineering from Columbia University.

Jon Powell, Ph.D. Student, Yale University, Connecticut

Jon Powell

Jon Powell is a registered professional engineer in Florida, Puerto Rico and Connecticut, and has more than a decade of experience as a researcher, consultant, entrepreneur and engineer in the waste and materials management sector. His research focuses on developing the field of waste informatics, which is how data and software tools can rapidly accelerate the development of more sustainable management solutions for a variety of wastes and byproducts. Currently, Mr. Powell is focusing on developing new, robust data sets and companion analyses that will reveal material-focused industrial symbiosis opportunities in the U.S., inclusive of existing stocks of non-hazardous industrial and municipal wastes. Additionally, Mr. Powell’s research delves into relevant business strategies and multi-level regulatory policy instruments that can substantially impact the sustainability of materials management for improved environmental and economic outcomes.