The analysis and prediction of the quantity and composition of household refuse

  • Nicholas M. Rufford

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis describes the development of a simple and accurate method for estimating the quantity and composition of household waste arisings. The method is based on the fundamental tenet that waste arisings can be predicted from information on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of households, thus reducing the need for the direct measurement of waste arisings to that necessary for the calibration of a prediction model. The aim of the research is twofold: firstly to investigate the generation of waste arisings at the household level, and secondly to devise a method for supplying information on waste arisings to meet the needs of waste collection and disposal authorities, policy makers at both national and European level and the manufacturers of plant and equipment for waste sorting and treatment. The research was carried out in three phases: theoretical, empirical and analytical. In the theoretical phase specific testable hypotheses were formulated concerning the process of waste generation at the household level. The empirical phase of the research involved an initial questionnaire survey of 1277 households to obtain data on their socio-economic characteristics, and the subsequent sorting of waste arisings from each of the households surveyed. The analytical phase was divided between (a) the testing of the research hypotheses by matching each household's waste against its demographic/socioeconomic characteristics (b) the development of statistical models capable of predicting the waste arisings from an individual household and (c) the development of a practical method for obtaining area-based estimates of waste arisings using readily available data from the national census. The latter method was found to represent a substantial improvement over conventional methods of waste estimation in terms of both accuracy and spatial flexibility. The research therefore represents a substantial contribution both to scientific knowledge of the process of household waste generation, and to the practical management of waste arisings.
Date of Award1984
Original languageEnglish


  • quantity
  • composition
  • household refuse

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