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MSW DST Tool v2
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Municipal Solid Waste Decision Support Tool

One of the greatest environmental challenges is the cost-effective and environmentally sound management of waste. From a sustainability perspective, the generation of waste is an inefficient use of natural resources. In addition, once generated, waste can present adverse impacts to the environment and to humans who come into contact with it or with the resulting pollution. Wastes are produced and managed at all levels of society, from households to industrial facilities, and at all levels of government and commercial activities.

RTI works with federal, state, and local governments in the United States and abroad in solving waste management problems both by helping local governments to identify the economic and environmental costs and benefits of alternatives for managing municipal solid waste. In all of our work, we keep sustainable solutions at the forefront, looking for ways to manage waste cost-effectively while minimizing the environmental impacts of the waste management solutions.

With co-funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy through a cooperative research agreement, RTI led the development a comprehensive municipal solid waste decision-support tool (MSW DST). The MSW DST is designed to aid solid waste planners in evaluating the cost and environmental aspects of integrated municipal solid waste management strategies. The tool enables users to simulate existing MSW management practices and conduct scenario analyses of new strategies based on cost and environmental objectives. The MSW DST includes multiple design options for waste collection, transfer, materials recovery, composting, waste-to-energy, and landfill disposal.

The MSW DST can be used to identify and evaluate cost and environmental aspects associated with specific waste management strategies or existing systems. It can also be used to identify costs and environmental aspects of proposed strategies such as those designed to meet recycling and waste diversion goals, quantify potential environmental benefits associated with recycling, identify strategies for optimizing energy recovery from MSW, and evaluate options for reducing greenhouse gases, air pollutants, and environmental releases to water-bodies or ecosystems.


The MSW DST is the result of collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and RTI and its partners. Key members of RTI's team and their contributions to the MSW DST are as follows:

  • North Carolina State University - process model and prototype tool development
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison - compost laboratory analysis and process model developmen
  • Eastern Research Group - redesign of the user interface and preparation of user tutorials
  • Franklin Associates - development of life cycle inventory data for materials manufacturing and electrical energy production
  • Five Winds International - development of life cycle inventory data for materials manufacturing

The MSW DST has undergone formal peer review conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and including the following reviewers:

  • Dr. Gregory A. Keoleian - University of Michigan
  • Dr. Jay Lund - University of California at Davis
  • Ms. Lynn Scarlett - Reason Public Policy Institute
  • Dr. David Allen - University of Texas at Austin
  • Dr. Robert P. Anex - University of Oklahoma
  • Ms. Ruksana Mirza - Proctor and Redfern, Ltd. Canada
  • Mr. Mitchell Kessler - TIA Solid Waste Management Consultants, Inc.
  • Dr. Aarne Vesilind - Bucknell University
  • Mr. Kevin Brady - Demeter Group, Canada
  • Dr. Peter White - Procter & Gamble, Ltd UK
  • Dr Steven B. Young - SB Young Consulting, Canada
  • Dr. Jürgen Giegrich - Ifeu- Institute, Germany
  • Dr. Debra Reinhart - University of Central Florida, College of Engineering

The MSW DST also received extensive review and input from a wide variety of stakeholders including representatives from state and local governments, academia, NGOs, and industry including:
  • American Forest and Paper Association
  • American Iron and Steel Institute
  • American Plastics Council
  • American Public Works Association
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Association of County Commissioners for Georgia
  • Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials
  • Audobon
  • Bes-Pack, Inc.
  • Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc.
  • Can Manufacturers Institute
  • Chemical Manufacturers Association
  • City of Austin, Texas
  • City of Los Angeles, California
  • City of Madison, Wisconsin
  • City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • City of Portland, Oregon
  • City of San Diego, California
  • City of San Jose, California
  • Corporations Supporting Recycling
  • County Waste Management Division, Santa Barbara, California
  • Covanta Energy
  • Delaware Solid Waste Authority
  • E. Tseng & Associates
  • Electronic Industries Association
  • Electro-Prolysis, Inc.
  • Energy Answers Corporation, Inc.
  • Environment Canada
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Environmental Industry Associations
  • Glass Manufacturing Industry Council
  • Glass Packaging Institute
  • Indiana Institute of Recycling
  • Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.
  • Integrated Waste Services Association (now called Energy Recovery Inc.)
  • International City/County Management Association
  • International Joint Commission
  • Keep America Beautiful
  • Lucas County, Ohio Solid Waste Management District
  • Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
  • Monterey Regional Waste Management District
  • MSW Management
  • National Association of Counties
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • National Council of the Paper Industry for Air & Stream Improvements, Inc.
  • National Recycling Coalition
  • National Solid Waste Management Association
  • New York City Department of Sanitation
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
  • North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
  • Ogden Martin
  • Owens-Illinois, Inc
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Resource Recycling
  • Resource Recycling Systems, Inc.
  • Solid Waste Association of North American
  • Sound Resource Management Group
  • South Carolina Institute for Energy
  • State of Florida
  • State of Georgia
  • State of Iowa
  • State of New Hampshire
  • State of Pennsylvania
  • State of Wisconsin
  • Steel Recycling Institute
  • The Aluminum Association
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Union Carbide
  • U.S. Conference of Mayors
  • U.S. Navy
  • Virginia Association of Counties
  • Waste Industries, Inc.
  • Waste Management, Inc.



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