Using plastic bag waste to assess the reliability of self-reported waste disposal data

Shan Shan CHUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Direct waste analysis (DWA) and the material flows approach are the two standard methods to quantify aggregated waste streams and analyze waste composition. Yet, with the increasing application of producer responsibility measures, product-based waste data rather than aggregated waste data are becoming important. It is over this requirement that both approaches fail to some extent in delivering the type and quality of information that is needed. This study uses plastic bag waste as an illustration to show how self-reported questionnaire survey data may be used to assess disposal quantities of product-based waste types. The estimates from a large-scale questionnaire survey with over 4100 completed cases were verified against DWA data of the same year in Hong Kong. It was found that self-reported data give systematically lower figures (on the order of 1.3-5 times) than those obtained from standard methods such as DWA for Hong Kong and the UK. However, it is demonstrated that self-reported data can be internally consistent. Also, the magnitude of underestimation may not be as considerable as it appears since the data from DWA are not themselves entirely accurate owing to the difficulties in obtaining a pure load of waste for field analysis and the variable moisture contents or contamination levels in waste material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2574-2584
Number of pages11
JournalWaste Management
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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