Title: Inventory of Existing Studies Applying Life Cycle Thinking to Biowaste Management
Editors: BERSANI Raffaella
Publisher: OPOCE
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC47277
ISBN: 978-92-79-09768-3
ISSN: 1018-5593
Other Identifiers: EUR 23497 EN
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC47277
DOI: 10.2788/95667
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: European waste policy aims at reducing the negative environmental impact associated with waste generation and management and to contribute to an overall reduction of the environmental impact of the use of resources. The Commission Communication on the Thematic Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste (COM (2005) 666) promotes life cycle thinking (LCT) in waste policies at European level and contains proposals to encourage and assist Member States in implementing this approach. This includes specific provisions in the accompanying proposal for a new Waste Framework Directive, as well as the preparation of guidance documents, in particular to the management of biodegradable waste that is diverted from landfill. In this context, the European Commission¿s Joint Research Centre is conducting a project aimed at the development of European life cycle thinking guidelines for the management of waste. The present report is the first outcome of the project, focusing on biodegradable waste and presenting the results of an analysis of existing studies on the application of the life cycle approach to biowaste management and treatment options. In this report the main conclusions of the analysis are presented as a first step for the definition of the life cycle guidance document for biodegradable waste management. The analysis showed that for the management of biodegradable waste that is diverted from landfills, there is no single environmentally best option. The environmental assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the various biowaste management options is complex because they occur in different phases of the biowaste lifecycle, during collection, treatment and recycling, while contributing to different environmental effects, ranging from greenhouse effects, material depletion, acidification and toxicity for humans and ecosystems. The analysis equally highlights that the environmental balance of the various options available for the management of this waste depends on a number of local/regional factors, inter alia collection systems, waste composition and quality, climatic conditions, the potential of use of various waste derived products such as electricity, heat, methane-rich gas or compost. In particular, the positive environmental effects of recycling and energy recovery are related to the avoided products (e.g. electricity, fertilizers etc). These positive effects can exceed the environmental burdens of the waste collection and treatment, while further benefits can exist from waste prevention. Therefore the availability of options for recycling and energy recovery seems to be one of the most important factors that influences the total environmental performance of biowaste management and should be an important guiding principle for the development of European guidelines for the management of biowaste.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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