In a resource-constrained world, there is ongoing concern over the exploitation and potential future shortage of Earth’s natural resources. In this paper, we present the results of two pilot studies in which we used drone technology with spatial mapping tools and environmental and economic analysis to map illegal waste sites. Besides the technical feasibility, we aimed at understanding the benefits, costs, and tradeoffs of extracting the materials stocked therein, transforming illegal waste sites into valuable resources. The innovation of our work is reflected in the integration of existing technologies for aerial mapping and economic\environmental assessment methodologies for promoting a local circular economy. The pilot results suggest that it is feasible to identify valuable materials left on the ground in the form of unattended, illegally disposed waste. Our initial national estimates for the illegal waste cleanup based on the pilot results suggest that the treatment cost in Israel can be reduced by 58 million USD and even reach zero, with the potential to generate up to 82.8 million USD profits. Finally, we link our results to the Sustainable Development Goals framework and suggest how mapping and implementing the recycling potential can promote achieving some of the goals. Our work provides missing data that the state, local authorities, contractors, and companies that monitor and manage waste and recycled raw materials may find useful.
- data analysis
- drone technology
- economic assessment
- illegal waste site
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)