Environmental and economic assessment methods for waste management decision-support: possibilities and limitation

Summary

A large number of methods and approaches that can be used for supporting waste management decisions at different levels in society have been developed. In this paper an overview of methods is provided and preliminary guidelines for the choice of methods are presented. The methods introduced include: Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Life Cycle Assessment, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Cost-effectiveness Analysis, Life-cycle Costing, Risk Assessment, Material Flow Accounting, Substance Flow Analysis, Energy Analysis, Exergy Analysis, Entropy Analysis, Environmental Management Systems, and Environmental Auditing, The characteristics used are the types of impacts included, the objects under study and whether the method is procedural or analytical The different methods can be described as systems analysis methods. Waste management systems thinking is receiving increasing attention. This is, for example, evidenced by the suggested thematic strategy on waste by the European Commission where life-cycle analysis and life-cycle thinking get prominent positions. Indeed, life-cycle analyses have been shown to provide policy-relevant and consistent results. However, it is also clear that the studies will always be open to criticism since they are simplifications of reality and include uncertainties. This is something all systems analysis methods have in common. Assumptions can be challenged and it may be difficult to generalize from case studies to policies. This suggests that if decisions are going to be made, they are likely to be made on a less than perfect basis

Coworkers: Tomas Ekvall

Keywords: Systems, environment, economy, models, wmr 1155-1

Year: 2007.0

Report number: A1566

Authors: Göran Finnveden, Anna Björklund, Åsa Moberg, Tomas Ekvall

Published in: Waste Management & Research 25(3):263-269 2007