North Carolina State University, Ph.D.
Lonnie C. Poole Jr./Waste Industries Scholar 2013
Developing an LCA Model for Residential/Commercial MSW Collection
Solid waste management (SWM) influences the natural environment and ecosystems as well as human health, safety and quality of life. SWM has short- and long-term, local and global implications. Although the methods, infrastructure and policies vary in different regions of the world, SWM is a process with which most people interact daily. Consequently, individual actions and practices at the household level can have a large effect on the system. Developing innovative ways to educate and involve the public in waste management decisions, and encouraging utilization of technologies and processes to decrease municipal waste streams will contribute to a culture of sustainability and can positively impact SWM and the environment. However, new SWM strategies, stimulated by regulation, policy or even public awareness campaigns could result in large changes in consumer interaction with the SWM system. Therefore, it is critical to evaluate changes to the SWM system to identify potential unintended consequences.
The goal of Megan’s research is to study the impacts of waste management policies, regulations, incentives and other initiatives on waste generation and composition, and to evaluate the potential influence of consumer practices on the broader SWM system. The research objectives are to: (1) characterize potential impacts to a SWM system due to changes in consumer behavior as a result of SWM initiatives, (2) quantify impacts to the SWM system, such as waste generation, composition, cost and environmental impact, using life-cycle analysis techniques, (3) compare the effects of SWM initiatives on the broader SWM system and identify strategies which may be effective at altering consumer behavior to achieve reductions in cost and environmental impact. Performing life-cycle analyses to evaluate how changes in consumer habits resulting from a particular SWM strategy impact the environment will ensure that new policies and regulations are well-aligned with high-level goals as defined by the implementing authority.
Megan studied mechanical engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology and graduated with honors with her BS in May 2006 and MS in December 2007. After graduation, she worked as a system safety engineer for Millennium Engineering and Integration Company supporting NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center. She became a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Florida in 2012 and also completed a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in December 2012.
In August 2012, Megan was admitted to the Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering department at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and received a dean’s doctoral fellowship for her academic achievement.