The application of life cycle thinking in the context of European waste policy
2012 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, Vol. 29-30, 199-207 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
As the impetus of life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle thinking (LCT) in waste management policy is increasing, decision makers may face conflicting advice on the potential environmental impacts of competing end-of-life treatment options. This paper discusses the problem posed by the Waste Framework Directive, 2008/98/EC, where LCT is required to justify the departure of waste streams from the waste hierarchy. This paper places LCA of waste management systems in the context of applying 'normal' science to 'post-normal' problems. The current application of La in waste policy is reviewed in order to determine the epistemic basis to such applications. Furthermore, several cases are reviewed where controversy has surrounded the a priori purpose of applying LCT; the justification of a clear-cut solution to environmental problems. We show how the excess of objectivity, the social construction of knowledge and the playing out of actors' games may limit the ability of LCT to offer an authoritative justification for the derogation of waste streams from the waste hierarchy. However, one of the major benefits of LCT lies in its ability to change actors problem perception. Hence, the application of LCT may be better suited to both the identification of areas of environmental impact and the positioning of waste management solutions further up the waste policy agenda.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 29-30, 199-207 p.
Waste management, Policy, Decision making, Life cycle thinking, Life cycle assessment, Waste hierarchy
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-95484DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.01.030ISI: 000303305600021ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84859557364OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-95484DiVA: diva2:528785
QC 201205282012-05-282012-05-282012-11-27Bibliographically approved