Material and energy recovery in integrated waste management systems. An evaluation based on life cycle assessment
This paper reports the environmental results, integrated with those arising from mass and energy balances, of a research project on the comparative analysis of strategies for material and energy recovery from waste, funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research. The project, involving the cooperation of five University research groups, was devoted to the optimisation of material and energy recovery activities within integrated municipal solid waste (MSW) management systems. Four scenarios of separate collection (overall value of 35%, 50% without the collection of food waste, 50% including the collection of food waste, 65%) were defined for the implementation of energetic, environmental and economic balances. Two sizes of integrated MSW management system (IWMS) were considered: a metropolitan area, with a gross MSW production of 750,000 t/year and an average province, with a gross MSW production of 150,000 t/year. The environmental analysis was conducted using Life Cycle Assessment methodology (LCA), for both material and energy recovery activities. In order to avoid allocation we have used the technique of the expansion of the system boundaries. This means taking into consideration the impact on the environment related to the waste management activities in comparison with the avoided impacts related to the saving of raw materials and primary energy. Under the hypotheses of the study, both for the large and for the small IWMS, the energetic and environmental benefits are higher than the energetic and environmental impacts for all the scenarios analysed in terms of all the indicators considered: the scenario with 50% separate collection in a drop-off scheme excluding food waste shows the most promising perspectives, mainly arising from the highest collection (and recycling) of all the packaging materials, which is the activity giving the biggest energetic and environmental benefits. Main conclusions of the study in the general field of the assessment of the environmental performance of any integrated waste management scheme address the importance of properly defining, beyond the design value assumed for the separate collection as a whole, also the yields of each material recovered; particular significance is finally related to the amount of residues deriving from material recovery activities, resulting on average in the order of 20% of the collected materials. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Source (journal)
Waste management. - Oxford
Oxford : 2011
31:9-10(2011), p. 2092-2101
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Creation 05.11.2018
Last edited 06.09.2021