Waste management beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: Bibliometric and text mining analyses
School of Business and Law
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the demand for personal protective equipment, in particular face masks, thus leading to a huge amount of healthcare waste generated worldwide. Consequently, such an unprecedented amount of newly emerged waste has posed significant challenges to practitioners, policy-makers, and municipal authorities involved in waste management (WM) systems. This research aims at mapping the COVID-19-related scientific production to date in the field of WM. In this vein, the performance indicators of the target literature were analyzed and discussed through conducting a bibliometric analysis. The conceptual structure of COVID-19-related WM research, including seven main research themes, were uncovered and visualized through a text mining analysis as follows: (1) household and food waste, (2) personnel safety and training for waste handling, (3) sustainability and circular economy, (4) personal protective equipment and plastic waste, (5) healthcare waste management practices, (6) wastewater management, and (7) COVID-19 transmission through infectious waste. Finally, a research agenda for WM practices and activities in the post-COVID-19 era was proposed, focusing on the following three identified research gaps: (i) developing a systemic framework to properly manage the pandemic crisis implications for WM practices as a whole, following a systems thinking approach, (ii) building a circular economy model encompassing all activities from the design stage to the implementation stage, and (iii) proposing incentives to effectively involve informal sectors and local capacity in decentralizing municipal waste management, with a specific focus on developing and less-developed countries.