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Title: Life cycle assessment and residue leaching: The importance of parameter, scenario and leaching data selection

Highlights: • Relevance of metal leaching in waste management system LCAs was assessed. • Toxic impacts from leaching could not be disregarded. • Uncertainty of toxicity, due to background activities, determines LCA outcomes. • Parameters such as pH and L/S affect LCA results. • Data modelling consistency and coverage within an LCA are crucial. - Abstract: Residues from industrial processes and waste management systems (WMSs) have been increasingly reutilised, leading to landfilling rate reductions and the optimisation of mineral resource utilisation in society. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a holistic methodology allowing for the analysis of systems and products and can be applied to waste management systems to identify environmental benefits and critical aspects thereof. From an LCA perspective, residue utilisation provides benefits such as avoiding the production and depletion of primary materials, but it can lead to environmental burdens, due to the potential leaching of toxic substances. In waste LCA studies where residue utilisation is included, leaching has generally been neglected. In this study, municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash (MSWI BA) was used as a case study into three LCA scenarios having different system boundaries. The importance of data quality and parameter selection in the overall LCA resultsmore » was evaluated, and an innovative method to assess metal transport into the environment was applied, in order to determine emissions to the soil and water compartments for use in an LCA. It was found that toxic impacts as a result of leaching were dominant in systems including only MSWI BA utilisation, while leaching appeared negligible in larger scenarios including the entire waste system. However, leaching could not be disregarded a priori, due to large uncertainties characterising other activities in the scenario (e.g. electricity production). Based on the analysis of relevant parameters relative to leaching, and on general results of the study, recommendations are provided regarding the use of leaching data in LCA studies.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1]
  1. Technical University of Denmark, Department of Environmental Engineering, Building 115, 2800 Lyngby (Denmark)
  2. Vanderbilt University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Box 1831 Station B, Nashville, TN 37235 (United States)
  3. Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), Department of Environmental Risk Assessment, P.O. Box 1, 1755 ZG Petten (Netherlands)
  4. Hans van der Sloot Consultancy, Dorpsstraat 216, 1721 BV Langedijk (Netherlands)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22470231
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Waste Management; Journal Volume: 38; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2014 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; ASHES; COMBUSTION; ELECTRICITY; LEACHING; LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT; MINERALS; OPTIMIZATION; PH VALUE; SANITARY LANDFILLS; SOILS; SOLID WASTES; TOXICITY