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Comparative life cycle assessment of biowaste to resource management systems - A Danish case study

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Waste to Energy combustion plants currently process most of the organic fraction of the household waste. This study presents an assessment of the environmental performance of an increased circular bioresource management system obtained by reallocating the organic fraction of the household waste from combustion (Reference Scenario) to biogas and fertilizer production (Alternative Scenario). The goals defined in the Danish National resource action plan for waste management, i.e. 33% reduction of organic fraction household waste dry weight, is taken as a case study. A comparative life cycle assessment of the diverting of the organic fraction of the household waste away from a Waste to Energy combustion plant towards sludge- and manure-based biogas plants in North Zealand (Denmark) shows a net increase in renewable electricity production of 39% at the expense of a reduction in heat production of 8%. Moving up the waste hierarchy results in a net greenhouse gas emission reduction of 100 kg CO2eq. per ton of dry weight biowaste treated, corresponding to a 10% of reduction in CO2 emission. The latter accompanied by a net reduction in depletion of fossil resources of 11% and a reduction in the impacts on Freshwater and Marine Eutrophication of 4.8 t P eq. and 3.6 t N eq., respectively. As such, the modelled increased circular bioresource management indicates significant improvement of the efficiency in use of resources in biowaste. However, trade-offs occur due to the presence of micropollutants in the natural fertilizers that results in future increased damage cost on terrestrial ecosystems and human health exists.
Original languageEnglish
Article number142
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume142
Issue4
Pages (from-to)4050-4058
Number of pages8
ISSN0959-6526
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2017

    Research areas

  • CBIO

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