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Title: Review of LCA studies of solid waste management systems – Part II: Methodological guidance for a better practice

Highlights: • We perform a critical review of 222 LCA studies of solid waste management systems. • We analyse the past LCA practice against the ISO standard and ILCD Handbook guidance. • Malpractices exist in many methodological aspects with large variations among studies. • Many of these aspects are important for the reliability of the results. • We provide detailed recommendations to practitioners of waste management LCAs. - Abstract: Life cycle assessment (LCA) is increasingly used in waste management to identify strategies that prevent or minimise negative impacts on ecosystems, human health or natural resources. However, the quality of the provided support to decision- and policy-makers is strongly dependent on a proper conduct of the LCA. How has LCA been applied until now? Are there any inconsistencies in the past practice? To answer these questions, we draw on a critical review of 222 published LCA studies of solid waste management systems. We analyse the past practice against the ISO standard requirements and the ILCD Handbook guidelines for each major step within the goal definition, scope definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment, and interpretation phases of the methodology. Results show that malpractices exist in several aspects of the LCA with large differencesmore » across studies. Examples are a frequent neglect of the goal definition, a frequent lack of transparency and precision in the definition of the scope of the study, e.g. an unclear delimitation of the system boundaries, a truncated impact coverage, difficulties in capturing influential local specificities such as representative waste compositions into the inventory, and a frequent lack of essential sensitivity and uncertainty analyses. Many of these aspects are important for the reliability of the results. For each of them, we therefore provide detailed recommendations to practitioners of waste management LCAs.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Division for Quantitative Sustainability Assessment, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby (Denmark)
  2. Residual Resources Engineering, Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby (Denmark)
  3. Water and Environmental Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University, 221 00 Lund (Sweden)
  4. (Denmark)
  5. Copenhagen Resource Institute, 1215 Copenhagen K (Denmark)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22320376
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Waste Management; Journal Volume: 34; Journal Issue: 3; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; ECOSYSTEMS; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS; INVENTORIES; ISO; LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT; MANUALS; RECOMMENDATIONS; RELIABILITY; SOLID WASTES; STANDARDS; WASTE MANAGEMENT