Welcome to the Debris Management Website

Post-disaster debris is any waste generated by a disaster. Debris on the ground has significant short and long term impacts. The amount of debris generated after a disaster can be equivalent to normal years of solid waste.

Debris management activities generally fall into one of the following three categories:

Clearance: Unblock roads

  • Prioritize roads to be cleared
  • Connect relief supply to demand points

Collection: Transport debris to collection sites

  • Assign roads to collection teams
  • Minimize collection time and balance workload

Disposal/recycling: Sort debris and decide on final processes

  • Debris processing site location
  • Process selection: wood grinding, concrete crushing, incineration, compaction, etc.
  • Landfilling / recycling tradeoff

Clearing, collecting, and disposing/recycling debris involve costly, long, and complicated processes, and can acocunt for 20-30% of disaster management costs. Debris management efforts often continue for years after a disaster (for example, debris removal is still ongoing in Haiti). There are federal and local guidelines for debris management which focus on “what to do,” but not on “how to do” it. The models and decision support tools we developed are aimed to support decision-makers in these complex decisions, help them evaluate trade-offs between different alternatives and what-if scenarios, with the goals of minimizing the time it takes to complete the operations (e.g., clearing or collecting debris) while minimizing costs under equity and fairness considerations.

 Tool Specifications


  • PC with 64 bit Microsoft Windows
  • Microsoft Office Excel (version 2003 or later)
  • Internet connection

Optimization & solution visualization

User interface

  • Excel file with buttons that run macros
  • Data inputs and outputs in the same file
  • One Excel file for each different project