Different waste treatment options for municipal solid waste have been studied in a systems analysis. Different combinations of incineration, materials recycling of separated plastic and cardboard containers, and biological treatment (anaerobic digestion and composting) of biodegradable waste, were studied and compared to landfilling. The evaluation covered use of energy resources, environmental impact and financial and environmental costs. In the study, a calculation model ( ) based on methodology from life cycle assessment (LCA) was used. Case studies were performed in three Swedish municipalities: Uppsala, Stockholm, and Älvdalen.
The study shows that reduced landfilling in favour of increased recycling of energy and materials lead to lower environmental impact, lower consumption of energy resources, and lower economic costs. Landfilling of energy-rich waste should be avoided as far as possible, partly because of the negative environmental impacts from landfilling, but mainly because of the low recovery of resources when landfilling.
Differences between materials recycling, nutrient recycling and incineration are small but in general recycling of plastic is somewhat better than incineration and biological treatment somewhat worse.
When planning waste management, it is important to know that the choice of waste treatment method affects processes outside the waste management system, such as generation of district heating, electricity, vehicle fuel, plastic, cardboard, and fertiliser.
2005. Vol. 13, no 3, 241-252 p.
LCA; LCC; Environmental systems analysis; Waste management; Recycling; Simulation model; Image ; Scenarios; Case study