Continuous-discrete simulation-based decision making framework for solid waste management and recycling programs

Eric D. Antmann, Xiaoran Shi, Nurcin Celik, Yading Dai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Solid waste produced as a by-product of our daily activities poses a major threat to societies as populations grow and economic development advances. Consequently, the effective management of solid waste has become a matter of critical importance for communities. However, solid waste management systems are inherently large-scale, diverse, and subject to many uncertainties, and must serve numerous stakeholders with divergent objectives. In this study, we propose a simulation-based decision-making and optimization framework for the analysis and development of effective solid waste management and recycling programs. The proposed solution includes a database and two main modules: an assessment module and a resource allocation optimization module. The assessment module identifies the sources of uncertainties in the system, which are then parameterized and incorporated into the resource allocation optimization module. The resource allocation optimization module involves a novel discrete-continuous model of the system under consideration, in which the continuous nature of decision variables is maintained while inherently discrete processing and transfer operations are accurately captured. The model operates with respect to the waste types and characteristics, costs, environmental impacts, types, location and capacities of processing facilities, and their technological capabilities. Then, an optimization mechanism embedded in the resource allocation optimization module solves the multi-criteria problem of the allocation of limited resources by simultaneously optimizing all relevant decision variables, evaluating performance in real-time via the model. Here, the optimum solution is considered as the combination of parameters that will lead to the highest recycling rate with minimum cost. The proposed framework has been successfully demonstrated for the Miami-Dade County Solid Waste Management System in the State of Florida.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-454
Number of pages17
JournalComputers and Industrial Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Continuous-discrete modeling
  • Modeling of large scale systems
  • Recycling systems
  • Simulation based optimization
  • Solid waste management systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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