This article illustrates the result of a study based on the life-cycle costing technique applied to urban waste management in a typical Italian setting, in order to discuss the economic and ecological foundations of a management paradigm inspired by the "zero-waste" philosophy. We identify landfill availability as a critical natural capital requiring the adoption of strong sustainability indicators. We argue that the zero-waste approach is neither feasible nor desirable. Instead, strong arguments can be found in favour of a "zero-landfill" strategy, to be achieved through an adequate mix of material and energy recovery.
Keywords: Waste management, Sustainability, Natural critical capital, Life-cycle, Costs externality
Jel Code: Q53, Q57, H23