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RPS Health & Social Impact Director co-authors new World Health Organisation (WHO) report

Our Health & Social Impact Director, Ryngan Pyper, has once again collaborated with WHO on its new report: Assessing the health impacts of waste management in the context of the circular economy.

03 June 2022 | 1 min read

Our Health & Social Impact Director, Ryngan Pyper, has once again collaborated with WHO on its new report: Assessing the health impacts of waste management in the context of the circular economy.

His latest report focuses on the public health implications of transitioning to a Circular Economy (CE) in the waste sector.

Published yesterday, the new report covers the use of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) as a tool to support strategic and project-level decisions about waste management policy and infrastructure. The report presents six HIA case studies and a literature review, which point to potential wins for the CE and population health.

Ryngan outlines below the top questions and takeaways from the report. 

Q What is the Circular Economy?

The Circular Economy (CE) is a concept of moving the use of resources from a linear model, of extract-use-discard, to a circular model, of reuse-recycle-recover. It reduces the use of new resources and minimises disposal. The waste management hierarchy is fundamental to CE delivery. In order of preference, it is: prevention of waste > re-use, recycle and energy recovery > disposal, if no other option.

Q What is Health Impact Assessment?

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a process used to systematically judge the potential and sometimes unintended effects of proposals on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population.

Q What is the relationship between CE and health?

There are win-win synergies between the CE and health. Population health risks are lower further up the waste management hierarchy, and accrues wider benefits.

Q What are the key takeaways from the report?

Through a literature review and six international case studies, we found:

  • The CE benefits to public health are not only environmental but also social, behavioural, economic, and institutional. These are ‘wider determinants of health’.
  • Benefits include a healthier, more productive society, through reduced direct hazards, skilled jobs, and new markets. These promote economic prosperity, an environment that promotes physical activity and mental wellbeing, and reduced healthcare demand.
  • This assumes the adoption of well-designed, operated and maintained modern waste management practices.
  • HIA can make a strong case for shifting up the waste management hierarchy, away from disposal.
  • The ability of HIA to influence the CE transition depends on taking a wider determinant of health approach, particularly where integrated forms of impact assessment are used.
  • Critically, strategic level HIA and decision-making need to create a policy context that limits the project level options to those that are high on the waste managing hierarchy, i.e. avoiding disposal.

This marks Ryngan’s second co-authored WHO report in the space of three months, following Learning from practice: case studies of health in SEA and EIA across the WHO European Region, which launched in March.

Senuri Mahamithawa is also a fellow RPS author on the report. 

About RPS

Founded in 1970, RPS, A Tetra Tech Company (RPS) is a leading global professional services firm of 5,000 consultants and service providers. Operating in 125 countries, working across six continents we define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

RPS delivers a broad range of services in six sectors: property, energy, transport, water, defence and government services and resources. Services provided across RPS' six sectors cover twelve service clusters: project and program management, design and development, water services, environment, advisory and management consulting, exploration and development, planning and approvals, health, safety and risk, oceans and coastal, laboratories, training and communications, creative and digital services.

RPS stands out for its clients by using its deep expertise to solve problems that matter, making them easy to understand. Making complex easy.

For further information, please visit www.rpsgroup.com.