Decision making and software solutions with regard to waste management

Clayton, B.; Kalverkamp, M.; Pehlken, A.
Journal of Cleaner Production
Material efficiency in lifecycles is a challenge that affects product innovators, producers and political stakeholders. The recycling and waste management is a direct consequence of this challenge, heavily compounded by data requirements. Especially third parties such as recyclers, remanufacturers or waste treatment sites face limited documentation and data on products. In addition, those actors face additional data management challenges due to their distinct upstream supply chains of dispersed suppliers and hence due to interrupted information flows. This study investigated various software tools to critically compare the tool's potential to improve data availability and data completeness, as well as the management of the reuse or recycling business processes using Enterprise Resource Planning software evaluation metrics for each waste-related sub-domain. The main objective of this paper is thus to provide a framework for comparison through key features, measured adherence to these features and to infer how this affects the software landscape. Software packages were sampled using public software listings and keyword filters to arrive at a final subset of publically accessible software packages, which were then critically analysed and compared by feature support. The main results of the comparison of these software packages in the discussed waste-related sub-domains revealed that data compatibility between packages and reporting requirements is the largest issue on a general level. On the level of sub-domains, the results showed that software offerings lack essential domain-specific features in order to support circular lifecycles of products and materials. Secondary results revealed a lack of database interoperability and various lesser concerns, such as incorrectly reported pricing or obsolescence information. The impact of these missing features reinforces the “silo” effect of packages, reduces the adoption rate in larger companies, and compounds the problem of smaller start-ups and companies using manual paper-based solutions and lacking reporting capabilities. Publically available databases and an increased rate of sharing of information between Original Equipment Manufacturers and recyclers would improve the decision-making through software solutions in waste-related processing.
12 / 2018