Sustainability approach: Food waste-to-energy solutions for small rural developing communities

Shakira R. Hobbs, Evvan V. Morton, Nicole Barclay, Amy E. Landis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The primary objective of this research is to show how waste-to-energy solutions can be introduced to small rural developing communities, while employing unique methods of community engagement and using the three pillars of sustainability to guide decisions. Waste management provides unique challenges to developing communities with no formally established way of disposing waste. It requires a revamping of social norms to develop a waste management system that the community accepts and also provides safe, efficient disposal. Thus, it is essential to understand how economics, energy, environment, community acceptance, and community engagement interact in the creation and employment of waste-to-energy systems in developing communities. A multiphase and mixed-methods research approach was employed in Sittee River, Belize that included waste audits, waste reduction modeling, and community interviews. The waste audits quantified the amount of food waste generated by the community and evaluated whether or not waste could be used to meet local school cooking needs. The USEPA’s waste reduction model (WARM) quantified and compared the amount of greenhouse gases associated with burying, burning, river dumping, and anaerobic digestion of food waste. Additionally, community interviews explained the perceptions of current waste practices. While the WARM model proves the environmental advantage of using the anaerobic digester, the interviews reveal that the community does not understand the impacts of their current waste management practices. Community members are less concerned about the harmful effects of burying and burning trash, but are still interested in alternative waste management systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Common Ground Research Networks, Shakira R. Hobbs, Evvan V. Morton, Nicole Barclay, Amy E. Landis, All Rights Reserved.


  • Anaerobic Digestion
  • Community Engagement
  • Developing Countries
  • Sustainability
  • Waste Management
  • Waste-to-Energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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