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Life cycle assessment of energy from solid waste - part 2: landfilling compared to other treatment methods
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Environmental Strategies.
2005 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, Vol. 13, no 3, 231-240 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the present paper, the validity of the waste hierarchy for treatment of solid waste is tested. This is done by using the tool life cycle assessment on recycling, incineration with heat recovery and landfilling of recyclable waste for Swedish conditions. A waste hierarchy suggesting the environmental preference of recycling over incineration over landfilling is found to be valid as a rule of thumb. There are however assumptions and value choices that can be made that make landfilling more preferable. This is the case for some waste fractions and for some of the environmental impacts studied when only a limited time period is considered. When transportation of waste by passenger car from the households is assumed for the other treatment options but not for landfilling, landfilling also gains in preference in some cases. The paper concludes that assumptions made including value choices with ethical aspects are of importance when ranking waste treatment options. Uncertainties related to the assessment of toxicological impacts can also influence the conclusions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 13, no 3, 231-240 p.
Keyword [en]
Landfill, Life cycle assessment, Waste, Hierarchy, Time perspective, Carbon sink, Transport
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-5561DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2004.02.025ISI: 000225529700003ScopusID: 2-s2.0-8344234996OAI: diva2:9964
QC 20100610Available from: 2006-04-06 Created: 2006-04-06 Last updated: 2011-11-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Environmental systems analysis tools for decision-making: LCA and Swedish waste management as an example
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental systems analysis tools for decision-making: LCA and Swedish waste management as an example
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Decisions are made based on information of different kinds. Several tools have been developed to facilitate the inclusion of environmental aspects in decision-making on different levels. Which tool to use in a specific decision-making situation depends on the decision context. This thesis discusses the choice between different environmental systems analysis (ESA) tools and suggests that key factors influencing the choice of ESA tool are object of study, impacts considered and information type regarding sitespecificity and according to the DPSIR-framework.

Waste management in Sweden is used as an example to illustrate decision-making situations, but discussions concerning choice of tools are also thought to be of general concern. It is suggested that there is a need for a number of ESA tools in waste management decision-making. Procedural tools like Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) should be used e.g. by companies applying for development of waste management facilities and by public authorities preparing plans and programmes. Within these procedural tools analytical tools providing relevant information could be used, e.g. Risk Assessment (RA), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or Substance Flow Analysis (SFA). Analytical tools may also be used separately. If the decision-making situation concerns a choice between different waste management options, such as recycling, incineration and landfilling, environmental aspects could be assessed using LCA or Material Input Per unit Service (MIPS). To study certain substances within the waste system, RA or SFA could be used.

An LCA of different strategies for treatment of municipal solid waste was made. A conclusion from this study is that the waste hierarchy is valid as a rule of thumb. Suggestions resulting from this study are that decisions promoting recycling of paper and plastics should be pursued, preferably in combination with decisions promoting the use of plastics replacing plastics made from virgin sources. The study further identifies a need for limiting transportation by private car for options requiring source separation of waste. When recycling is not an alternative, incineration is in general preferable to landfilling. Key issues that may affect the ranking of the waste treatment options include alternative energy sources, the material the recycled material replaces and the time perspective chosen.

It is suggested that LCA may be a useful tool in waste management, both on its own and as a part of an SEA. Results from LCAs can provide advice on ranking of alternatives. More importantly, key assumptions and value choices that may influence the rankings can be highlighted and thus made clear to the decision-makers. In general, LCA results are not site-specific and provide information in the form of potential environmental impacts, and thus could be combined with other tools if other type of information is needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006. 56 p.
Trita-SOM , ISSN 1653-6126 ; 06:002
National Category
Civil Engineering
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3904 (URN)91-7178-304-0 (ISBN)
2006-04-07, Sal L43, KTH, Drottning Kristinas väg 30, Stockholm, 10:00
QC 20100610Available from: 2006-04-06 Created: 2006-04-06 Last updated: 2010-06-10Bibliographically approved

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Moberg, ÅsaFinnveden, GöranLind, Per
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