EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

Summary and Activities


Summary and Activities

This lesson contains a significant amount of information on existing and developing methods of resource conservation and waste treatment. This information is mainly related to dealing with municipal waste and does not cover special types of waste such as nuclear or agricultural waste. Wastewater and sewage treatment is a separate topic that will be addressed in the next lesson. The general thought that summarizes this lesson is that treatment of waste is a dirty and expensive business - it is better to prevent it than clean it up. New technologies that would change the situation to a more sustainable world must involve transformative design innovations that increase the recyclability and biodegradability of the waste stream outputs. Life cycle thinking and modeling will help to identify the best scenarios for sustainable actions.

Assignments for Lesson 5:
Type Assignment Directions Submit To
Reading Complete all necessary reading assigned in this lesson.

Clean-up Innovations. 

1. Search the web for innovative ideas aimed at efficient waste disposal or removal. 2. Post the link to the story or source. 3. Briefly explain the principle of technology or approach. 4. Express your own opinion on the promise of this idea.

This search can be related to any scale of waste disposal or cleanup (from industrial to small household or community wide). Let us stick to the solid waste area (wastewater treatment is a separate topic). It can be both a technological system or simply a strategy, but it should provide a way to make our living environment cleaner.

Canvas: Lesson 5 Module

For this assignment, choose one of the two research articles (available via PSU Library or as PDF in Module 5 in Canvas): 

1. Jin, H., Frost, K., Sousa, I., Ghaderi, H., Bevan, A., Zakotnik, M., and Handwerker, C., Lifecycle Assessment of Emerging Technologies on Value Recovery from Hard Disk Drives, Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, 157 (2020), 104781. 

2. Hu, Q., et al., Biochar Industry to Circular Economy, Sciences of the Total Environment, 757 (2021), 143820. 


  • Read the article of your choice and use the Lesson 5 Worksheet to summarize the following information: 
  • Box 1: Input the type of waste to be treated / converted. Comment on the problem and opportunities presented by the circular economy approach.
  • Box 2: List the key materials, resources, value to extract and re-direct from the waste stream.
  • Box 3: List the industry sectors, material flows, or applications that can use the above resources as valuable inputs. 
  • Box 4: Discuss the main challenges for the implementation of the extraction / conversion technology into practice (these may include technical, economic, or other issues) 

For more details, please see Lesson 5 Dropbox and Worksheet in Canvas.

Deadline: Wednesday (before midnight)


Lesson 5


Solid Waste Technology & Management, Volume 1 & 2, Christensen, T., Ed., Wiley and Sons., 2010.

McDonough, W. and Braungart, M., Cradle to Cradle. Remaking the Way We Make Things, North Point Press. New York, 2002.

The Hannover Principles. Design for Sustainability, William McDonough Architects, 1992.