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Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Waste Management
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/wasman
Forecasting municipal solid waste generation using artificial intelligence
modelling approaches
Maryam Abbasi ⇑, Ali El Hanandeh
Griffith School of Engineering, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, Australia
a r t i c l e
i n f o
Article history:
Received 23 May 2015
Revised 16 April 2016
Accepted 18 May 2016
Available online 11 June 2016
Municipal solid waste
Artificial intelligence
Support vector machine
Artificial neural network
k-nearest neighbours
Adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system
a b s t r a c t
Municipal solid waste (MSW) management is a major concern to local governments to protect human
health, the environment and to preserve natural resources. The design and operation of an effective
MSW management system requires accurate estimation of future waste generation quantities. The main
objective of this study was to develop a model for accurate forecasting of MSW generation that helps
waste related organizations to better design and operate effective MSW management systems. Four intelligent system algorithms including support vector machine (SVM), adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS), artificial neural network (ANN) and k-nearest neighbours (kNN) were tested for their
ability to predict monthly waste generation in the Logan City Council region in Queensland, Australia.
Results showed artificial intelligence models have good prediction performance and could be successfully
applied to establish municipal solid waste forecasting models. Using machine learning algorithms can
reliably predict monthly MSW generation by training with waste generation time series. In addition,
results suggest that ANFIS system produced the most accurate forecasts of the peaks while kNN was successful in predicting the monthly averages of waste quantities. Based on the results, the total annual
MSW generated in Logan City will reach 9.4 107 kg by 2020 while the peak monthly waste will reach
9.37 106 kg.
Ó 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Accurate projection of municipal solid waste quantities is
important for the successful planning of efficient waste management system. Future estimations of municipal solid waste generation serve as a basis in the development of existing waste
management infrastructures as well as their further sustainable
development and optimization. Imprecise forecasts may lead to
widespread problems, such as inadequate or excessive waste disposal infrastructure (collection, incineration, landfilling or processing) (Buenrostro et al., 2001). Therefore, the demand for reliable
data concerning waste generation is implicitly included in the
majority of national waste management laws (Antanasijević
et al., 2013). However, the process of forecasting MSW generation
is often challenging and compound by rapidly changing and
uncontrollable parameters (Beigl et al., 2008).
There is a growing body of literature on forecasting municipal
solid waste (MSW) generation which includes a high heterogeneity
of applied models from purely application-oriented to highly
sophisticated academically inclined tools (Chung, 2010). Over the
⇑ Corresponding author.
E-mail address: [email protected] (M. Abbasi).
0956-053X/Ó 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
period from 1970 to 2014, more than 80 studies addressing the
topic of forecasting of MSW generation have been published.
MSW forecasting methods can be broadly classified into five main
categories: descriptive statistical methods (Bider and Franklin,
1980; Even et al., 1981; Sha’Ato et al., 2007); regression analysis
(Denafas et al., 2014; Franchetti, 2012; Vivekananda and Nema,
2014; Wei et al., 2013); material flow model (Liu et al., 2014;
Schiller et al., 2010; Tonjes and Greene, 2012; Zhang et al.,
2012); time series analysis (Katsamaki et al., 1998; Navarro-Esbrí
et al., 2002; Xu et al., 2013); and artificial intelligence models
(Abbasi et al., 2014; Antanasijević et al., 2013; Kumar et al.,
2011; Noori et al., 2010). However, all modelling approaches have
their own strengths and weaknesses.
Conventional and descriptive statistical methods of forecasting
MSW generation usually use population growth and average percapita waste generation as the main predictor (Abdoli et al.,
2012). However, this method is no longer effective due to the
dynamic characteristics of MSW generation process (Abbasi et al.,
2013). Regression analysis is a widely used modelling technique
because of the simplicity of underlying mathematics and welldeveloped statistical theory. In regression analysis, MSW generations are associated with economic and demographic variables
(Abdoli et al., 2011). In order to conform with the theoretical
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
assumptions of regression, input variables must meet stringent
requirements such as independence, constant variance and normality of errors (Hockett et al., 1995). All of these requirements
place limitations on the suitability of regression for predicting
MSW generation as a complex real-world problem. The material
flow model can fully characterize the dynamic properties in the
process of solid waste generation. However, this modelling
approach can be used for predicting total waste rather than collected waste (Beigl et al., 2008). Nevertheless, collected waste
may still be estimated where recycling and littering rates are
known. However, Hockett et al. (1995), after analysing results
obtained from input-output models like material flow analysis,
highlighted that comparisons of the results with real observed
waste data on the highest aggregation levels were questionable
due to the presence of different aggregations or because of low
consistency within the studies. Hekkert et al. (2000) further suggested that comparison may even prove to be impossible because
studies on final consumption are almost completely lacking. In
contrast with the previously mentioned methods, time series analysis does not rely on the estimation of social and economic factors;
thus it has the advantage of overcoming the lack of social parameters and other predictors. Time series data of waste generation are
dynamic in nature, and it is possible to employ non-linear tools in
order to discern relationships within the time series.
In recent years, artificial intelligence models and machine
learning such as support vector machine (SVM), adaptive neurofuzzy inference system (ANFIS) and artificial neural network
(ANN) have been gaining popularity because of their high flexibility and proven prediction abilities (Abbasi et al., 2013, 2014;
Antanasijević et al., 2013). Intelligent models are shown to be capable of predicting MSW generation on long, medium and short
term scales (Abbasi et al., 2014; Abdoli et al., 2012; Jalili Ghazi
Zade and Noori, 2008). However, there is limited information about
monthly prediction of MSW generation as well as optimal algorithm for this purpose. This paper will review the state of the art
of the intelligent modelling approaches for MSW generation forecast and then apply them to a real case scenario in order to identify
the most suitable algorithm to predict MSW collected by kerbside
service on a medium-term scale.
2. Application of artificial intelligence in forecasting MSW
Advanced artificial intelligence forecast systems have shown
superiority to conventional models in engineering problems as
well as in waste management research (Abdoli et al., 2012). Recent
research in this topic focused on using artificial intelligence models
to deal with the non-linearity of the historical data. In this section,
application of the techniques including ANN, ANFIS, SVM and knearest neighbours (kNN) will be reviewed in the field of MSW
2.1. Artificial neural network
Artificial neural networks are cellular information processing
systems designed and developed on the basis of the perceived
notion of the human brain and its neural system (Firat et al.,
2010). One of the most beneficial and significant features of ANN
in forecasting is its learning ability. ANN can construct a complex
nonlinear system through a set of input/output examples. Consequently, ANN has been successfully employed in nonlinear system
modelling (Firat et al., 2010). Accordingly, the nonlinear structure
of MSW generation makes the ANN an ideal candidate for forecasting waste generation. Literature survey returned applications of
ANN to forecast MSW generation in short, medium and long-
term periods (Abbasi et al., 2013; Abdoli et al., 2012; Noori et al.,
Ordóñez-Ponce et al. (2006) employed multi-layer perceptron
neural network to predict long-term generation rate of MSW in
Chile. Using a range of variables which covered sociodemographic, economic, geographic and waste-related factors,
ANN was able to predict waste generation with great accuracy
(R2 = 0.819). Ordóñez-Ponce et al. (2006) concluded that population, percentage of urban population, years of education, number
of libraries and number of indigents were the most important factors which affected waste generation in Chile.
The ability of ANN to predict short-term MSW generation was
also examined by other researchers (Noori et al., 2009a,b). These
studies focused on forecasting MSW generation by analysing time
series of waste generation rather than analysing effective factors in
waste generation. Results showed that feed-forward ANN with one
hidden layer and 16 neurons was the best structure to forecast
short-term waste generation rates (Noori et al., 2009a,b). However,
ANN accuracy may suffer when faced with large database due to
the effect of irrelevant, redundant and noise in the data. Therefore,
different input selection methods such as principal component
analysis, wavelet transform and gamma test were introduced to
deal with accuracy loss (Noori et al., 2009a,c). Although ANN model
has good ability to forecast MSW generation, its performance suffers because of its tendency to over-fitting training, local minimum, and poor generalization.
2.2. Adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference systems
Adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference systems (ANFIS) are a wellknown data driven modelling technique that combines ANN and
fuzzy logic. ANFIS is composed of two parts, antecedent and conclusion, which are connected to each other by fuzzy rules based
on the network form. Limited attempts, 3 studies, to predict waste
generation using ANFIS were found in the literature. The studies
compared the performance of ANN and ANFIS models ability to
predict MSW generation (Chen and Chang, 2000; Noori et al.,
2009c; Tiwari et al., 2012). Tiwari et al. (2012) suggested that
ANFIS is a more reliable model than ANN for forecasting the aggregate impact of economic trend, population changes, and recycling
on solid waste generation. Chen and Chang (2000), on the other
hand, demonstrated the ability of ANFIS to forecast waste generation with limited input data. Chen and Chang (2000) and later
Noori et al. (2009c) applied fuzzy goal regression method to
improve the overall prediction accuracy of ANFIS.
2.3. Support vector machine
Support vector machine (SVM), a novel neural network algorithm, was developed by Vapnik and colleagues (Vapnik, 1995).
SVMs are a type of maximum margin classifiers which seek to find
a maximum margin hyperplane to the best line across data. The
hyperplane thus obtained is called the optimal separating hyperplane and the training examples that are closest to the maximum
margin hyperplane are called support vectors. While most of conventional neural network models implement the empirical risk
minimization principle, SVM implements the structural risk minimization principle. Neural network model seeks to minimize the
misclassification error or deviation from correct solution of the
training data but the SVM searches to minimize an upper bound
of generalization error. Therefore, the solution of SVM may be global optimum while other neural network models may tend to fall
into a local optimal solution. Thus, SVM is unlikely to result in
overfitting (Kim, 2003).
SVM model was used to forecast weekly MSW generation in
Tehran city, Iran by Abbasi et al. (2013). They concluded that
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
SVM could predict MSW generation in a short term scale with reasonable accuracy. Further, Abbasi et al. (2014) found that preprocessing of input variables by wavelet transform method can
improve the accuracy and robustness of the model.
2.4. k-nearest neighbours
Due to its simplicity and intuitiveness, k-nearest neighbours
algorithm is widely adopted for regression and classification (Wu
et al., 2008a). The application of kNN to time series forecasting
under nonparametric locally weighted regression condition was
presented independently by Yakowitz (1987) and Cleveland
(1979). kNN has also drawn attention in the field of time series
forecasting because of work presented by Meade (2002). The
underlying intuition to apply kNN to univariate time series is that
consistent data-generating processes often produce observations
of repeated patterns of behaviour. Therefore, if a previous pattern
can be identified as similar to the current behaviour of the time
series, the subsequent behaviour of previous pattern can provide
valuable information to predict the behaviour in the immediate
future. In the kNN regression algorithm introduced by Meade
(2002), the target variable of a time series forecasting problem is
presented as a sequence of interval scaled values. Given a pattern
whose future value is to be predicted, the algorithm identifies
the k most similar past patterns and combines them. So far, no
attempt has been made to evaluate the ability of kNN to forecast
MSW generation.
2.5. Summary of present studies
Forecasting of MSW generation can be classified into 3 different
groups according to how far in the future the forecast period is:
short-term forecasting (usually ranging from days to few months);
mid-term forecasting (usually range from few months to 3–
5 years); and long-term forecasting (usually attempting to forecast
many years ahead). Table 1 summarises the work which applied
intelligent modelling approach to forecasting MSW generation.
Choosing the best modelling approach for waste generation
depends on waste stream type, economic factors, purpose of the
modelling, and availability of data (Beigl et al., 2008). However,
aside from ANN and ANFIS, no attempt has been made to compare
the ability of different artificial models to predict MSW generation,
especially in midterm period with monthly time step. The following section will compare the ability of artificial intelligence models
including ANFIS, SVM, ANN and kNN for monthly prediction of
MSW collected by kerbside service. To the best of the authors’
knowledge, this study is the first to apply kNN for forecasting
MSW generation as well as evaluate prediction ability of SVM,
ANN and ANFIS models for estimating monthly waste generation.
3. Material and method
Time series analysis comprises methods that attempt to understand the nature of the series and is often useful for future forecasting and simulation. In time series forecasting, past observations are
collected and analysed to develop a suitable mathematical model
which captures the underlying data generating process for the series. The future events are then predicted using the model. This
approach is particularly useful when there is not much knowledge
about the statistical pattern followed by the successive observations or when there is a lack of a satisfactory explanatory model.
Here a model was built to predict one step ahead and the variable which is used as an input is the waste generation, where Wt is
the waste generation at time instance t. A simple time series prediction performs the following functional mapping:
W tþ1 ¼ f ðW t ; W t1 ; . . . ; W tp1 Þ
In Eq. (1), the waste generation at time (t + 1) is a function of the
waste generations at previous time. Therefore, at time t, a one step
ahead forecast Wt+1 is computed using p number of the past observations Wt, Wt1, . . . , Wtp1. While, p was 12 in this study, Wt+1
was forecasted by waste generation in past twelve month equivalent to a year. To compare forecasting ability of artificial intelligence models to predict MSW generation, real data on waste
generation obtained from the city of Logan, Australia was used.
3.1. Theory and development of ANFIS
The most basic and common Sugeno method of fuzzy inference
structure system which has validation capability by training data
was used in this study (Rezaee and Zarandi, 2010). Fig. 1 shows
an ANFIS system with two inputs, one output and two rules. This
system has two inputs x and y and one output, where its rules are:
If x is A1 and y is B1 ; then f 1 ¼ p1 x þ q1 y þ r1
If x is A2 and y is B2 ; then f 2 ¼ p2 x þ q2 y þ r2
Ai and Bi are fuzzy sets, fi is the output within the fuzzy region
specified by the fuzzy rule, pi, qi and ri are the design parameters
that are determined during the training process.
Every node computes the degree of activation of any rules in the
second layer. The membership functions are then multiplied in this
wi ¼ lAi ðxÞ lBi ðyÞ
Noori et al. (2009c)
Jalili Ghazi Zade and Noori (2008), Noori
et al. (2009a,b, 2010)
Abbasi et al. (2013, 2014), Noori et al.
Lupu et al. (2008)
Chen and Chang (2000), Tiwari et al.
Abdoli et al. (2012), Antanasijević et al.
(2013), Jahandideh et al. (2009), Kumar
et al. (2011), Ordóñez-Ponce et al. (2006)
i ¼ 1; 2
where lAi (x) is membership degree of x in Ai set, lBi (y) is the membership degree of y in Bi set.
The ith node computes (third layer) the ratio of activity degree
of i rule to the sum of activation degrees of all rules. wi is normalized membership degree of i rule.
Table 1
Summary of MSW generation classified by forecast period and algorithm.
w1 þ w2
i ¼ 1; 2
The output of any node is calculated in the fourth layer:
wi f i ¼ wi ðpi x þ qi y þ r i Þ
where p, q and r are changeable consequent parameters. The final
network output f is produced by the node of the fifth layer as a summation of all incoming signals. The final outputs (number of nodes
equals to output parameters) of all nodes are derived in the fifth layer.
Ov erall Output ¼
wi f i
wi f i ¼ Pi
i wi
In the ANFIS system, each input parameter might be clustered
into several class values to build up fuzzy rules, and each fuzzy rule
would be constructed using two or more membership functions
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
Fig. 1. Structure of the ANFIS network.
(Abraham, 2001). Several methods have been proposed to classify
the input data and to make the rules. In this study, the one-pass
subtractive clustering algorithm is used for data classification. It
is a fast algorithm for estimating the number of clusters and the
cluster centres in a set of data by getting the cluster radius (r).
The radius (r) of each data cluster should be optimized and may
vary between 0.1 and 0.95 (Noori et al., 2009c).
3.2. Theory and development of SVM
For forecasting purpose, e-type support vector regression
method was employed in this study (Clarke et al., 2005). The einsensitive sparse solution saves CPU time during prediction
because it does not take into account small residual errors. In a
SVM regression model, the functional dependence of the dependent variable y on a set of independent variables x should be estimate by a deterministic function f(x) (f(x) = wT K(x) + b) plus the
addition of some noise (y = f(x) + noise). The noise can be usually
defined by error term (e).
To find a functional form for f(x) the SVM model should be calibrated on a sample set, a process that involves the sequential optimization of an error function. Then, w and b are derived by
minimizing the error function (Eq. (8)) subject to Eq. (9):
1 T
w w þ C ni þ C ni
ni ; ni P 0 ;
i ¼ 1; 2; . . . ; N
The above objective function in Eq. (10) is a convex function,
and the solution to Eq. (10) is unique and optimal. Subsequent to
the determination of Lagrange multipliers in Eq. (10), the parameters w and b in support vector regression function can be calculated
under Karush-Kuhn-Tucker complementarities conditions (Wu,
2009), where W ¼ Ni¼1 ðai ai Þ/ðxi Þ. Consequently, the support
vector regression function can be written as
f ðxÞ ¼
ðai ai ÞKðxi ; xÞ þ b
the kernel function K corresponding to
Kðxi ; xÞ ¼ /ðxi ÞT /ðxÞ
Kernels can be any symmetric function satisfying the Mercer’s
condition. Different kernels can be selected to construct different
types of SVM. Typical examples include (Noori et al., 2009d):
where x and xi is the unlabeled input and each of the training
inputs respectively. Where c and a are constants and the parameters of the kernels. Gaussian radial basis function due to its popularity and accuracy was used as a kernel function in this study
(Kumar et al., 2011).
It is well known that SVM generalization performance depends
on a good setting of meta-parameters, especially: regularization
parameter (C); precision parameter (e) and kernel parameter (c).
The regularization parameter (C) determines penalties to estimation errors, e. The parameter e represents the radius of the tube
located around the regression function. In other words, choice of
e defines the magnitude of errors that can be neglected. Improper
selection of these parameters can cause over-fitting or underfitting problems. In data mining and machine learning 10-fold
cross-validation is the most common (Refaeilzadeh et al., 2009).
This method has been employed to obtain optimal SVM parameters in two step grid search method. In the first step, a coarse grid
search is taken using sets of values for C, c and e. In the second step,
a finer grid search is conducted around the optimal values obtained
in the first step.
yi ðai ai Þ e ðai þ ai Þ 0:5 ðai ai Þ
0 6 ai 6 C
i ¼ 1; . . . ; N
ðaj aj Þ/ðxi ÞT /ðxj Þ
1. Polynomial kernels K(x, xi) = [x xi + 1]a
2. Radial basis function (RBF) kernels K(x, xi)=exp(c||x xi||2)
3. Linear kernels K(x, xi) = x xi
where C indicates a positive constant, u denotes a set of nonlinear
transformations, N is the sample size, and ni and ni are slack variables specifying the upper and lower training error subject to an
error term e. In the regression problem, most data examples are
expected to be within the e-tube. If a data example falls outside
the tube, then an error ni and ni will exist. SVM reduces underfitting and over-fitting problem by minimizing both the regularizaP
tion term wT w/2 and the training error term C Ni¼1 ðni þ ni Þ in Eq.
(8). Therefore, introducing a dual set of Lagrange multiplier i.e. ai
and ai allows the optimization problem to be solved by maximizing
the quadratic programming algorithm (Eq. (10)) subjected to Eq.
0 6 ai 6 C
wT /ðxi Þ þ b yi 6 e þ ni
yi wT /ðxi Þ b 6 e þ ni
ðai ai Þ ¼ 0
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
3.3. Theory and development of k-nearest neighbours
k-nearest neighbours (kNN) regression is an instance based lazy
learning algorithm (Wu et al., 2008b). It is a nonparametric
method, where a new observation is placed into the class of the
observation from the learning set that is closest to the new observation, with respect to the covariates used. The determination of
this similarity is based on distance measures. Formally this simple
fact can be described as follows: Let
L ¼ fðyi ; xi Þ; i ¼ 1; . . . ; nL g
be a training or learning set of observed data, where yi 2 {1, . . . , c}
denotes class membership and the vector xi = (xi1, . . . , xip) represents
the predictor values. The determination of the nearest neighbours is
based on an arbitrary distance function D (x,xi). Then for a new
observation (y, x) the nearest neighbour (y(1), x(1)) within the learning set is determined by:
Dðx; xð1Þ Þ ¼ minðDðx; xi ÞÞ
^ ¼ yð1Þ , the class of the nearest neighbour, is selected as predicand y
tion for y.
The notation x(j) and y(j) here describes the jth nearest neighbour of x and its class membership, respectively.
The weighted kNN learning has two user-specific parameters to
be determined including the number of nearest neighbours, k, and
the weights assigned to the selected neighbours. Specially, the performance of kNN learning mainly depends on the locality control
parameter, k, which is usually chosen by empirical crossvalidation. The weights are specified by kernel methods using a
density function. In the implementation of kNN regression used
in this study, Gaussian kernel method is used with Gaussian density function.
3.4. Theory and development of artificial neural network
Multi-layer feedforward neural network is the most popular
ANN method. It has been applied widely in many fields because
of its superior ability to approximate non-linear functions with
high accuracy. Most applications of feedforward neural network
use some variation of the gradient technique, back propagation
algorithm, to optimize neural networks (He et al., 2005). A feedforward network is made up of several layers of processing elements.
The three layer feed forward neural network constructed in this
study with input layer, one hidden layer and output layer. Each
neuron in a certain layer is connected with all neurons in the next
layer. The connection between the ith and jth neuron is characterized by the weight coefficient wij. The output value of xi is determined by Eqs. (16) and (17).
X i ¼ f ðni Þ
ni ¼
wij xj
where ni is the potential of the ith neuron and function f (ni) is called
the transfer function.
f ðnÞ ¼ 1=ð1 þ expðnÞÞ
The weight coefficients wij is revised to minimize the sum of the
squared differences between the computed and required output
values. This is accomplished by minimization of the object function
E ¼ 1=2ðx0 x0r Þ2
where x0 and x0r are the computed and required activities of the
output neuron. A back-propagation training algorithm is used to
vary the weight coefficients. It holds that
¼ wij k
where k is the learning rate. The training mode begins with random
numbers of the weights and proceeds iteratively. The crucial problem in the model is how to determine the numbers of hidden units.
An optimal network topology from the number of inputs and outputs depends critically on the number of training cases, the amount
of noise and the complexity of the function or classification. The
optimal number of neurons in hidden layer is determined by trial
and error in this analysis.
3.5. Evaluation metrics
There are many criteria that can be used to evaluate the performances of forecasting models in the numerical study. In this paper,
the prediction performance of the proposed forecasting models is
evaluated through statistical metrics: coefficient of determination
(R2), Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE), Mean Absolute Percentage
Error (MAPE), and Mean Absolute Error (MAE).
ðW i W i Þ
R2 ¼ 1 Pi¼1
i¼1 ðW i W i Þ
1 Xn
jW i W i j2
n 1X
W i W i MAPE ¼
n i¼1
Wi MAE ¼
jW i W i j
n i¼1
where W, W⁄ and n is actual weight of generated waste, model output and number of observation, respectively. All computations were
run on Windows XP operating system and MATLAB (Version
R2009a, Mathwork Inc.).
3.6. Case study and data
Logan City Council is one of the fastest growing regions in south
east Queensland, Australia. It is situated between the City of Brisbane to the north and Gold Coast to the south as shown in Fig. 2.
Logan city has a population of more than 280,000 inhabitants.
The city is divided into 63 suburbs and 12 divisions with one Council. Logan has a subtropical climate, typical of the eastern coastal
locations of the high pressure belt of the southern hemisphere
(Mollasalehi, 2015).
Logan Council manages a range of waste services and facilities,
across residential and commercial waste streams. In addition, it
operates all waste facilities in the City and manages contracts with
private companies for collection services. The majority of waste
received and managed by the council is classified as MSW. The
monthly average MSW generation was 6,400,000 kg in 2014. Based
on Council audits of domestic waste bins, Council’s MSW is composed of 25% food waste, 27% garden waste, 15% paper and cardboard (recyclable), 4% textiles, 4% nappies, 6% recyclable glass,
metal, and plastics, and 19% ‘others’ (including wood, rubber,
leather, non-recyclable paper, cardboard, metal, and glass) (Logan
city council, 2014). In this study, monthly time series of MSW generation were collected over a eighteen-year period from July 1996
to June 2014.
4. Result and discussion
This study simulated monthly MSW generation by 4 different
artificial intelligence models, SVM, ANN, ANFIS and kNN, to find
the best predictive model. Before starting the modelling process,
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
Fig. 2. Location of Logan city in Australia.
we needed to determine the best model structure for each algorithm by determining model parameters. These parameters are different according to each model theory as discussed above.
One-pass subtractive clustering algorithm was used for data
classification in ANFIS, radius, r, was determined by trial and error
method. The cluster radius indicates the range of influence of a
cluster and consequently number of rules. In general, as the number of rules is increased, the difference between the predicted and
the obtained values decreases and more complex relations can be
modelled with a large number of rules. In this study, ANFIS model
was developed with different cluster radius to determine the number of clusters by results obtained from the model. Results showed
the best fuzzy structure in neural-fuzzy network for estimating
MSW generation was at radius of 0.14 where R2, MAE, RMSE, and
MAPE values were 0.98, 52.16, 175.88, and 0.008 respectively.
Fig. 3 demonstrates the model performance with different r values
with the optimum value marked by an arrow.
For SVM model, optimization using grid search method showed
that optimum values for C, c and e were 100, 41 and 0.001, respectively. Optimal values were obtained by R2 and MAPE estimators as
shown in Fig. 4(a), and (b) respectively. Fig. 4 visually illustrates
parameter interdependencies, as expected, of C and c. In SVM,
the trade-off between complexity of decision rule and frequency
of error is controlled by changing the parameter C. the c parameter
defines the influence of a single training input. The bulge in Fig. 4
suggest that increasing C and c lead to better results but no longer
after the optimum value. Moreover, same results were obtained
using MAE and RMSE.
In kNN method, a large k value produces more precise predictions as it reduces the overall noise; however, the compromise is
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
Fig. 5. Determining k variable in kNN method.
Fig. 3. Optimal r to construct the best structure for ANFIS model.
that the distinct boundaries within the feature space are blurred.
Fig. 5 provides optimization information. As it can be seen, optimum k was 6 with R2 = 0.51, MAE = 250.26, RMSE = 308.19 and
MAPE = 0.4.
As mentioned above, ANN includes the interconnections of a
number of neurons. The information received by the input layer
is processed by neurons in hidden layer with appropriate nonlinear transfer functions. The number of hidden neurons affects
the network complexity. If the network is too small, it will not
completely solve the problem or parts of it, and a too complex network has the tendency to memorize the data. It concentrates too
much on the data presented for learning and tends toward modelling the noise which may lead to underfitting or overfitting.
Number of neurons needs to be optimized by trial and error
method. The Optimal number of neurons in hidden layer was
determined to be 8 where R2 is 0.46 as shown in Fig. 6. As expected,
performance of the model was improved as number of neurons
increased to 8 and then performance decreased due to overfitting
Fig. 4. SVM parameter optimization by grid search method.
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
Fig. 6. Determining optimal neuron number in ANN method.
4.1. Forecasting monthly MSW generation by artificial intelligence
In order to get an effective evaluation of kNN, ANN, ANFIS and
SVM models performance, the best model structures were used.
85% of the data was used for training, 15% for testing and 10% of
the training dataset for validation. Monthly MSW generation in
Logan city was predicted by ANFIS, ANN, SVM and kNN as shown
in Figs. 7 and 8. Moreover, Table 2 summarises accuracy of each
model during training and testing stages.
As evident from Figs. 7 and 8 and Table 2, the results indicated
that all models performed well during the training stage with a
high R2, more than 0.8. However, during the test stage, there were
substantial differences between the models. ANFIS performed the
best (R2 = 0.98). It showed good agreement with the observed data,
and close predictions of the observed peaks. SVM ranked second in
terms of its accuracy in matching the observed data (R2 = 0.71).
However, it tended to underestimate the peaks and generated volumes. Prediction ability of kNN was in middle. Nevertheless, it was
the closest in estimating monthly average values of generated
waste. ANN was the least accurate in matching the observed data
(R2 = 0.46).
ANFIS is a class of adaptive networks that provides nonlinear
ability, capacity for fast learning, and adaptation capability
(Tiwari et al., 2012). Earlier studies demonstrated good ability of
SVM and ANFIS for forecasting MSW generation (Abbasi et al.,
2014; Noori et al., 2009c). Results obtained from this study support
these findings, but also shows the superiority of ANFIS algorithm
Fig. 8. Comparison of models’ performance by R2 and RMSE.
for forecasting monthly waste generation. Although kNN was less
accurate than ANFIS, it could predict average value of waste generation accurately. This can be explained according to the fundamental of kNN theory which estimates future values based on nearest
data. In addition, results revealed ANN had the lowest performance
in comparison with the other models.
Estimating maximum and average quantities of waste produced
by household in a region is critical for designing and operating the
waste management system. Understanding maximum waste generated in a city allows managers to estimate required facilities
related to waste collection and disposal accurately at the highest
demand. In addition, regular operation of a waste management
system depends on estimating an average generation rate in a year.
As shown in Fig. 6, ANFIS could produce accurate estimates at
peaks, while results obtained from kNN model were close to the
average value of waste generated in Logan City Council region.
Therefore, in the next section, ANFIS and kNN were employed to
determine maximum and average of monthly waste generation
for the future period 2015–2020.
4.2. Projection of monthly MSW generation in Logan city
As demonstrated in the previous section, ANFIS accurately estimated waste generation at peaks while kNN was successful in estimating monthly average values. Fig. 9 shows projections of
monthly MSW generation in Logan city for the coming five years
period (2015–2020). Results predict that 1,270,000 kg will be
added to the monthly average value of generated waste by 2020.
Fig. 7. Modelling results produced by ANFIS, ANN, SVM and kNN.
M. Abbasi, A. El Hanandeh / Waste Management 56 (2016) 13–22
Table 2
Accuracy of SVM, ANFIS, ANN and kNN models to forecast monthly MSW generation in Logan city.
Fig. 9. Monthly MSW generation predicted by ANFIS, SVM and kNN.
Moreover, peak waste flow is forecast to grow by 2.7% in comparison to year 2014 peak value. Therefore, Logan Council may need
more facilities to deal with the peak demand over the next 5 years
5. Conclusion
To ensure suitable MSW management in a town, the problem
must be addressed from its roots. Forecasting solid waste generation is a fundamental step in planning and operation of a waste
management system. Therefore, it is necessary for MSW managers
and decision makers to develop a tool for accurate predictions of
solid waste quantities generated.
Due to limitation of conventional methods of waste generation
estimation, choosing one statistical model may limit the ability to
find the best predictive model for waste generation data. In artificial intelligence models, the data inform the choice of model rather
than imposing a specific model a priori. In this study, four algorithms of artificial intelligence were compared for their accuracy
of predicting waste generation rates. They were then employed
to forecast monthly MSW generation in Logan city, Australia. Our
results showed that artificial intelligence models provide promising tools that may allow decision makers to successfully forecast
future trends in MSW generation for planning and design of
MSW management purposes.
Based on the results obtained from the study, it can be concluded that kNN, ANFIS and SVM models can give good prediction
performance and may be applied to establish the forecasting models that could provide accurate and reliable monthly MSW generation prediction. In addition, results suggest that ANFIS model
produced more accurate forecasts than kNN and SVM. This study
is also the first to apply kNN modelling to waste generation forecasting. kNN was able to estimate average monthly waste generation rates with good accuracy.
The authors would like to acknowledge Logan Council for providing municipal waste generation data. The authors would also
like to thank Mr Brett Lee from Logan Council for his cooperation. The authors would also like to thank Ms Siti Amri for
preparing the study area map.
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