Waste management increasingly entails complex challenges of urban sustainability.Historically, waste management practice has focused on short term impacts and end pipe solutions. Reactive and segregated waste management systems in the past have left this generation with the crises of inadequate infrastructure to safely process ongoing waste discards, along with the contamination and potential risks from numerous disposal sites that have been closed, abandoned, or untreated. The cost of waste management has been steadily increasing; over 60 billion dollars were expended nationwide in 2010 (US Census Bureau, 2012, p.232). Continuing the reactive practice not only exacerbates the adverse impacts on the economy, environment, and society, but also transfers the burden disproportionately across communities and generations. An urban system cannot be sustainable if it requires more resources than it can produce on its own and generates more wastes than the environment can assimilate. In this presentation, Dr. Ning Ai discusses the critical role of proactive waste management in urban sustainability. With a focus on the current practice in the US,this presentation includes empirical analyses that examine the impacts of urban growth on waste management activities, in connection with economic recession, environmental policy, and infrastructure planning. This presentation also aims to explore the value, opportunities, and challenges of interdisciplinary research in waste management.