Invited Session: Climate Change
Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction from Waste and Resource Management Techniques (0.5 CEU)
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
8:45 – 9:15
Moderator: Jeff Cooper, former ISWA President and ISWA Working Group on Recycling and Waste Minimisation, United Kingdom
Life-cycle analysis (LCA) models evaluate the full benefits of waste management decisions and provide the perspective needed to guide long-term planning decisions for achieving environmental sustainability. LCA’s main limitations arise from the spatial and temporal scale of analysis, which make it less precise in defining time-dependent landfill methane emissions that dominate waste sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in many countries. This paper explores the effectiveness of LCA for guiding local solid waste management decisions in developing countries in light of uncertainties caused by the temporal and spatial scales of LCA and by its assumptions of linearity and heavy reliance on good waste composition data. To evaluate GHG emissions in developing countries where landfill methane dominates, and to monitor progress in emissions reduction from benchmark levels, city planners need models that provide realistic estimates of annual landfill methane emissions by accounting for ever-changing conditions at specific disposal sites. LCA’s scale of analysis is appropriate for setting goals, but compounds the large uncertainties in landfill emissions estimates, and is unable to evaluate the achievements of interim steps towards reaching sustainability that developing countries will need to undergo, including the closing and remediation of existing dump sites, and the collection and destruction of landfill methane.
Following this presentation, participants will be able understand the limitations of LCA, including the effects of the temporal and spatial scales of analysis, on its effectiveness for guiding local solid waste management decisions in developing countries.