an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Stephen Burnley - School of Engineering and Innovation, The Open University, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


Released under CC BY-NC-ND

Copyright: © 2018 CISA Publisher


Life cycle assessment was used to investigate the environmental impacts and benefits of managing residual municipal solid waste, waste newspapers and organic waste for two energy supply scenarios. In the first scenario, the electricity generated by energy from waste and landfill gas combustion displaces grid electricity generated from natural gas. The electricity and process heat used in the recycling and primary material production processes are also generated from gas. In the second scenario, wind power is the marginal electricity source displaced by energy from waste (EfW) and landfill gas use and wind and biomass are used to provide process electricity and heat respectively. The results show that, under both energy supply scenarios, treating the residual non-recyclable municipal solid waste in EfW facilities is preferable to landfill. Comparing the recycling of waste paper with EfW shows that neither option can be regarded as the better environment option and this is the case regardless of the energy supply scenario. The environmental burdens of treating organic waste by EfW increase with a move to wind power and, in this case, the results suggest that composting has environmental advantages over EfW. Normalising the LCA results demonstrates that waste management represents a low proportion (-1.5% to 1.5%) of an individual’s contribution to their overall LCA impacts.


Editorial History

  • Received: 27 Nov 2018
  • Revised: 08 Feb 2019
  • Accepted: 22 Feb 2019
  • Available online: 31 Mar 2019


Bates J., 2009. Impacts of managing residual municipal waste. In: Patel N (ed) Accomplishments from IEA bioenergy task 36: integrating energy recovery into solid waste management systems (2007– 2009). International Energy Agency, Paris

BS EN 16760, 2015. Bio-based products – life cycle assessment. British Standards Institution, London, UK

BS EN ISO 14040, 2006. Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Principles and framework. British Standards Institution, London, UK

Burnley S.J., Coleman T., Peirce A., 2015. Factors influencing the life cycle burdens of the recovery of energy from residual municipal waste. Waste Manage., 39, 295-304

Burnley S.J., Boardman C.P., 2017. The use of dynamic life cycle assessment to evaluate the long term climate change impacts of waste management processes, 16th International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium, Cagliari, Italy

Christensen T.H., Gentil E., Boldrin A., Larsen A.W., 2009. C balance, carbon dioxide emissions and global warming potentials in LCA-modelling of waste management systems, Waste Manag. Res., 27(8), 707-715

Classen M., Althaus H.-J., Blaser S., Doka G., Jungbluth N. and Tuchschmid M. (2009) Life Cycle Inventories of Metals. Final report ecoinvent data v2.1 No.10. Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, Dübendorf, CH

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS), 2018. Implementing the end of unabated coal by 2025, DBEIS, London, UK

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), 2009. Municipal Waste Composition, Report WRO199, Defra, London

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), 2018, UK statistics on waste, Defra, London, UK

Ecoinvent, undated, Reports on ecoinvent 2, (Accessed 30 January 2019)

ELDC, 2010, European Commission Joint Research Centre, (Accessed 30 January 2019)

European Commission (undated) European Commission Environment Circular Economy, (Accessed 30 January 2019)

European Environment Agency, 2018. Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2016 and inventory report 2018, European Commission, DG Climate Action European Environment Agency, Brussels, Belgium

Finnveden G., Hauschild M.Z., Ekvall T., Guinee J., Heijungs R., Hellweg S., Koehler A., Pennington D., Suh S., (2009). Recent developments in life cycle assessment. J. Environ. Manage. 91, 1-21

Frischknecht R., Jungbluth N., Althaus H-J., Doka G., Dones R., Heck T., Hellweg S., Hischier R., Nemecek T., Rebitzer G., Spielmann M., 2005. The Ecoinvent database: Overview and methodological framework. Int J Life Cycle Assess. 10(1), 3-9

Guinée J.B. (ed), 2002. Handbook on life cycle assessment, Kluwer Academic publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands

Hadzic A., Voca N., Golubic S., 2018. Life-cycle assessment of solid-waste management in city of Zagreb, Croatia, J. mater. cycles waste, 20(2), 1286-1298

Hischier R. (2007) Life Cycle Inventories of Packaging and Graphical Paper. Final report ecoinvent data v2.0 No. 11. Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, Dübendorf, CH

Kjeldsen P., Barlaz M.A., Rooker A.P., Baun A., Ledin A., Christensen T.H., 2002. Present and long-term composition of MSW landfill leachate: A review, Crit. Rev. env. sci. tec., 32(4), 297-336

Maalouf A., El-Fadel M., 2018. Carbon footprint of integrated waste management systems with implications of food waste diversion into the wastewater stream, Resour. Conserve. Recy., 133, 263–277

Michaud J-C., Farrant L., Jan O. (2010). Environmental benefits of recycling - 2010 update. Waste and Resources Action Programme, Banbury, UK

Office for National Statistics (ONS) (2018), Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2017, Office for national Statistics, London, UK.Defra, 2018

Ozoemena, M., Cheung, W.M., Hasan, R., 2018. Comparative LCA of technology improvement opportunities for a 1.5 MW wind turbine in the context of an onshore wind farm, Clean technol. Envir., 20(1). 173-190

Paraskevas, D., Kellens, K., Van de Voorde, A., Dewulf, W., Duflou, J.R., 2015. Environmental impact analysis of primary aluminium production at country level, Procedia CIRP 26, 455–460, 13th Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing - Decoupling Growth from Resource Use

Razdan P., Garrett P., 2015. Life cycle assessment of electricity production from an onshore V110-2.0 MW wind plant, Vestas Wind Systems, Aarhus, Denmark

Schott S., Bernstad A., Wenzel H., Jansen J., 2016. Identification of decisive factors for greenhouse gas emissions in comparative life cycle assessments of food waste management – an analytical review, J. Clean. Prod., 119, 13-24

Villanueva A, Wenzel H., 2007. Paper waste recycling, incineration or landfilling? A review of existing life cycle assessments, Waste Manage. 27(8), S29-S46