What life-cycle assessment does and doesn't do in assessments of waste management

Summary

assessments of the environmental impacts of waste management, life-cycle assessment (LCA) helps expanding the perspective beyond the waste management system. This is important, since the indirect environmental impacts caused by surrounding systems, such as energy and material production, often override the direct impacts of the waste management system itself. However, the applicability of LCA for waste management planning and policy-making is restricted by certain limitations, some of which are characteristics inherent to LCA methodology as such, and some of which are relevant specifically in the context of waste management. Several of them are relevant also for other types of systems analysis. We have identified and discussed such characteristics with regard to how they may restrict the applicability of LCA in the context of waste management. Efforts to improve LCA with regard to these aspects are also described. We also identify what other tools are available for investigating issues that cannot be adequately dealt with by traditional LCA models, and discuss whether LCA methodology should be expanded rather than complemented by other tools to increase its scope and applicability.

Coworkers: Tomas Ekvall

Keywords: life-cycle assessment, waste management

Year: 2007.0

Report number: A1564

Authors: Tomas Ekvall, Getachew Assefa, Anna Björklund, Ola Eriksson, Göran Finnveden

Published in: Waste Management 27(8):989-996 2007