From this presentation by Berlin-based consulting firm UEC comes the below Sankey diagrams on sorting of waste in a waste treatment facility in 2003.

No absolute values are given, only a percentage breakdown of the waste that is being treated.

After the first steps, the drum sieve (‘Siebtrommel’) splits the waste flow in three main fractions based on the size of the shreddered waste. The blue arrow are unsorted remains, the colored ones are recovered materials.

Only apparent flaw of this Sankey diagram is that the arrow labels show ranges for values. An accompanying table in the presentation has the minimum and maximum sorting quotas. Not clear which value was used for determining the arrow widths.

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and The Connecticut Energy & Environmental Protection Agency have conducted a study on waste flows titled ‘Unlocking the Value: Transforming the Connecticut Materials Economy’.

The study features two Sankey diagrams that show the present situation (2010) and a an alternative scenario, where much of the materials are recovered.

This is the current situation in which only 25% of the 3.16 Mt of waste (Building C&D Waste not considered) are recycled.

The authors explain that

“Each year Connecticut residents and businesses generate more than three million tons of munici pal solid waste (MSW, or “regular trash”). Currently existing recycling and reuse programs capture a portion of the value of Connecticut’s waste, while waste-to-energy facilities process and recover energy from most of the MSW that is not recycled. With our recycling infrastructure underutilized, and resource recovery facilities at capacity, there is vast potential to transform our management and processing systems to further unlock the economic potential of waste.”

The optimized scenario with much increased recycling of materials (almost 80%) is shown in this diagram:

Connecticut is looking into the environmental and economic benefit of a recycled materials econonmy.

via Talismark blog

While some of you might think of their favourite lunch time snack, in the UK the term WRAP refers tp the ‘Waste & Resources Action Programme’, an independent not-for-profit company.

WRAP now presented their vision for a circular economy in the United Kingdom by 2020, using Sankey diagrams:

The material flows for the baseline year 2000 are shown in a first diagram here:

In that year, apparently, 212 Mt of material were disposed of as waste (orange arrow), while only 47 Mt were recycled.

The situation in 2010…

… and the vision for 2020 (from this page):

The goal is to use less input materials, to reduce waste output and to recycle 3/4 of the materials.

See diagrams in high resoultion directly on their website.

This post on the MFA diagram blog directed me towards a study on computer waste in Chile. The Sankey diagrams featured are for CRT/LCD displays and laptop/desktop computers,

These are the flows of CRT (red) and LCD (blue) in 2010 and expected units in 2020

and the desktop (green) and laptop computers (dark blue) flows in 2010 and expected for 2020 (no. of units).

The full scientific paper can be found here.
(via MFA Diagram blog)

Austrian consulting and engineering company Intergeo offers site investigation and remediation as well as waste management services. In a reference project for the city of Bourgas a waste management plan was developed. It shows the following Sankey diagram:

From what I understand despite the small print in the diagram, it is a breakdown of household waste in the city by waste types, and the different treatment paths (recycling, composting, landfill, etc.). Values are in ton/year refering to 2007. Waste fractions are color-coded.

After the rather complex Sankey diagrams presented in my previous post, here’s another comparatively simple one. It is presented on the website of consulting and planning company UMTAS in Germany, to support their services offers in the field of material and energy flow management.

The diagram is just symbolic and doesn’t indicate any absolute quantities or a time period. It merely shows the compsition of waste.


The process labeled “compost plant” seems to be a kind of sorting station, where non-compostable items such as metals are being removed. Hospital waste appears to be absent and the arrow line is shown dotted. The input and output flows of the compost plant don’t seem to match – or is this just a trompe d’oeil?

In fact, the information conveyed in this Sankey diagram is no different from a typical pie chart. [This reminds me of a categorization of Sankey diagrams I had on my to do list]. Still, I think it is a valid representation of the data, and the diagram will get even more interesting, if one starts to study where the waste flow outputs are going to and how they are treated.