One of the most important processes in an integrated waste management system is incineration, which,among the different waste management disposal options still remains a critical waste treatment system.New dynamics and approaches have to be developed to embrace such a wide and complex topic, and bet-ter knowledge and assessment of incineration are strategically significant to define future environmentalscenarios.Life cycle assessment (LCA), as a tool to optimise process-operating conditions and to support decision-making process, is often applied to investigate processes under design in various sectors, since choicesmade in the development phases can affect the future environmental profile. However, even if the greatestopportunity to improve a process from an environmental perspective is during the design phase, at thesame time the knowledge is limited, in accordance with the so-called “design paradox”.Thus, in this context, this study used LCA methodology to quantitatively assess the extent to which theenvironmental impact of an incineration line reflects the environmental burdens perceived during thedesign phase. A comparative LCA was conducted at the design phase and under operating conditions atan Italian municipal solid waste incineration plant.The outcomes of the study indicated that for almost all of the categories analysed, the impacts associatedwith the process under design overestimated the impacts associated with the operating process, withthe exception of climate change and water depletion. The results suggested that after the conduction ofan LCA at the design phase of a process, an LCA of the operative conditions should be carried out to verifyhow much the over- or under-estimations affected the results.

Assessing the “design paradox” with life cycle assessment: A case study of a municipal solid waste incineration plant

TONIOLO, SARA;
2014

Abstract

One of the most important processes in an integrated waste management system is incineration, which,among the different waste management disposal options still remains a critical waste treatment system.New dynamics and approaches have to be developed to embrace such a wide and complex topic, and bet-ter knowledge and assessment of incineration are strategically significant to define future environmentalscenarios.Life cycle assessment (LCA), as a tool to optimise process-operating conditions and to support decision-making process, is often applied to investigate processes under design in various sectors, since choicesmade in the development phases can affect the future environmental profile. However, even if the greatestopportunity to improve a process from an environmental perspective is during the design phase, at thesame time the knowledge is limited, in accordance with the so-called “design paradox”.Thus, in this context, this study used LCA methodology to quantitatively assess the extent to which theenvironmental impact of an incineration line reflects the environmental burdens perceived during thedesign phase. A comparative LCA was conducted at the design phase and under operating conditions atan Italian municipal solid waste incineration plant.The outcomes of the study indicated that for almost all of the categories analysed, the impacts associatedwith the process under design overestimated the impacts associated with the operating process, withthe exception of climate change and water depletion. The results suggested that after the conduction ofan LCA at the design phase of a process, an LCA of the operative conditions should be carried out to verifyhow much the over- or under-estimations affected the results.
Comparative LCA
MSW incineration plant
Design paradox
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1055738
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