Assessing the value of resource recovery and reuse: social, environmental and economic costs and benefits for value creation and human well-being

Resource recovery and reuse (RRR) contributes to a range of social, economic and environmental benefits that affect human well-being in developing and emerging economies. Energy, nutrients and water can be recovered for safe reuse in agriculture or industry from urban wastewater, including fecal sludge from on-site sanitation systems, as well as other sources of organic waste, such as the agro-industry and municipal solid waste (MSW). To understand the full value of RRR to justify action, there is a need for a systematic assessment approach that balances complexity with practicality. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a well-established tool for weighing social, economic and environmental costs and benefits based on a common economic metric. This report highlights the methods available for quantifying and valuing social, environmental and economic costs and benefits of RRR, focusing on CBA as the primary framework. Rather than prescribing a standardized technique for conducting CBA for RRR, this report presents broad frameworks and several examples that can be catered to individual contexts.