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A qualitative model to evaluate biowaste composting management systems using causal diagrams: a case study in Colombia

Oviedo-Ocaña, E.R., Dominguez, I., Torres-Lozada, P., Marmolejo-Rebellón, L.F., Komilis, D., Sanchez, A.
Journal of cleaner production 2016 v.133 pp. 201-211
business enterprises, case studies, commercialization, composting, ecosystem services, management systems, marketing, models, monitoring, product quality standards, public policy, wastes, Colombia
This paper uses a systems thinking approach to analyze the elements that influence biowaste composting implementation. The review of local, national, and international experiences as well as the knowledge gained by the monitoring of the operation of five biowaste composting facilities in Valle del Cauca (Colombia) over an 8-year period has enabled to identify the elements that interact in an integrated composting system. Twenty-five key elements were identified and divided into four subsystems relevant to composting performance: quality and commercialization of the product, technological component, substrate characteristics, and business and financial management. Several causal diagrams were produced illustrating the interactions and integrating those elements. The systemic analysis helped to elucidate key strategies to improve biowaste composting sustainability: promoting administration within a business perspective, promoting marketing and commercialization initiatives, and implementing local technological development. In addition, some strategies more distant along the causal chain were proposed such as: developing standards and public policies to promote source separation, recognizing the economic and environmental benefits of composting, encouraging the use of products, such as compost, setting product quality standards in accordance with the potential uses of products and supporting technological development.