Waste Flow Diagram


The Waste Flow Diagram (WFD) helps map and visualize municipal solid waste management system material flows to quantify amounts, sources and fates of waste leakage into the environment.

The WFD was developed in a collaboration between Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, University of Leeds, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and RWA-Wasteaware to help city authorities assess the quantities and fates of unmanaged municipal solid waste (MSW) released into the environment.

It maps the waste flows using a Material Flow Analysis (MFA), covering all stages of the solid waste management (SWM) system from generation to collection, transport, treatment/recovery, and disposal. This assessment can be the basis for informed decision making at city level to improve the solid waste service and infrastructure system. Scenarios of improvements can also be run through the WFD to assess how a proposed intervention may affect the system and reduce plastic pollution into the environment.

WFD Portal

To facilitate WFD assessments, to show data and to foster data sharing, a WFD data portal has been developed. It features full WFD computations, as well as a graphic generator for the Waste Flow and Sankey diagrams, and integrates with the Waste Wise Cities Tool and its data portal. The WFD portal also includes general information about the WFD, a repository of case studies, a blog, tutorial videos and training material. Furthermore, it allows for peer-to-peer exchange and support through a forum.

With a growing repository of case studies, it is now possible for people to apply data analytics and, for instance, categorise case studies along key parameters, which could assist in finding suitable measures of improvement for SWM systems based on their city profile.

WFD Compendium

In addition, general lessons from two years of WFD applications and the results of 50 case studies were published in a compendium covering a wide range of realities of solid waste management and cultural practices.

Additional information

  • Local authorities wanting to understand waste flows within municipal solid waste management systems, to estimate amounts of plastic leakage into the environment, and to identify crucial areas to invest in their solid waste management infrastructure
  • Development and donor agencies supporting capacity development and funding for solid waste management to improve the understanding of project impacts
  • Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and civil-society organisations wanting to make an improvement in the solid waste sector
  • Entrepreneurs and private investors intending to set up waste collection, treatment or disposal activities as a business venture or social enterprise
  • Any stakeholder, public or private organisations and individuals concerned with solid waste management and plastic pollution

The WFD is an excel-based tool that maps municipal waste flows using Sankey diagrams and quantifies the sources as well as fates of plastic waste entering the environment. The toolkit is specifically designed to integrate with SDG 11.6.1 by informing on the sub-indicators and can be operated either as a baseline assessment or used for scenario forecasting.

The User Manual provides an explanation of the WFD toolkit and in-depth guidance on how to apply it. This includes information on data collection issues, how to estimate plastic leakages, how to run scenarios, and how to visualise the waste flows. Decision trees and descriptive tables for each part of the solid waste management system facilitate the calculation of leakage potentials.

Resources and trainers for the WFD can be found here.

Additional information