A life cycle approach to the management of household food waste - A Swedish full-scale case study.

Anna Bernstad, Jes la Cour Jansen

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Environmental impacts from incineration, decentralised composting and centralised anaerobic digestion of solid organic household waste are compared using the EASEWASTE LCA-tool. The comparison is based on a full scale case study in southern Sweden and used input-data related to aspects such as source-separation behaviour, transport distances, etc. are site-specific. Results show that biological treatment methods - both anaerobic and aerobic, result in net avoidance of GHG-emissions, but give a larger contribution both to nutrient enrichment and acidification when compared to incineration. Results are to a high degree dependent on energy substitution and emissions during biological processes. It was seen that if it is assumed that produced biogas substitute electricity based on Danish coal power, this is preferable before use of biogas as car fuel. Use of biogas for Danish electricity substitution was also determined to be more beneficial compared to incineration of organic household waste. This is a result mainly of the use of plastic bags in the incineration alternative (compared to paper bags in the anaerobic) and the use of biofertiliser (digestate) from anaerobic treatment as substitution of chemical fertilisers used in an incineration alternative. Net impact related to GWP from the management chain varies from a contribution of 2.6kg CO(2)-eq/household and year if incineration is utilised, to an avoidance of 5.6kg CO(2)-eq/household and year if choosing anaerobic digestion and using produced biogas as car fuel. Impacts are often dependent on processes allocated far from the control of local decision-makers, indicating the importance of a holistic approach and extended collaboration between agents in the waste management chain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1879-1896
JournalWaste Management: international journal of integrated waste management, science and technology
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Chemical Engineering


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