Life cycle assesment of waste management system
Document typeMaster thesis
Rights accessOpen Access
Nowadays “waste management” is a topic largely studied and questioned among government and Institutional organizations, as a complex phenomenon with a range of consequences for the involved stakeholders and society. In an European scenario, the Northern countries, where waste is considered as a resource, implement an efficient management of the solid residues, while the Southern countries, like Italy, seem to have a slowly evolution on waste treatment. Although different waste management options are now available the development of a sustainable waste management system needs to be discussed from a broader systems perspective, taking the environmental, social and economic issues into account. In this study, Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) in accordance to ISO 14040/44 standards, helps to expand the perspective beyond the waste management system. Scope of this study is using LCA method to compare the environmental performance of two different waste management systems in the municipality of Avezzano (Southern Italy). These are landfilling, the Avezzano's original waste management, and incineration for supplying heat and electricity to household; Waste to Energy is a system largely experimented in Sweden, that has been agreed upon in Avezzano, but not yet implemented. After data collection, models have been developed using GaBi 4, an LCA tool that allows to account material and energy flows and carry out environmental impact assessment from a life cycle perspective. Life cycle impact assessment has been addressed at mid-point level (i.e. problem-oriented); at the end incineration results to be negative for the air quality, and consequently for human health, due to CO2 and SOX emissions in the atmosphere. These substances affect not only the Climatic Change but also phenomena like Acidification that impact flora, fauna, humans and artistic building. Although Landfilling is more toxic for the soil quality. Incineration produces 35% more energy than landfilling and this is ideal for the Avezzano inhabitants, as the city, like the whole Italy, depends strongly of foreign Countries for the energy production. Implementing an incineration plant result 30% less economical than landfilling, and currently in Italy there are no economic incentive to build Waste to Energy plants, and also there are still problem of legality that make incineration project even more difficult to be implemented.