Life cycle assessment of garden waste management options including long-term emissions after land application

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A life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed on five garden waste treatment practices: the production of mature compost including the woody fraction (MCIW), the production of mature compost without the woody fraction (MCWW), the production of immature compost without the woody fraction (ICWW), fresh garden waste including the woody fraction (GWIW) and fresh garden waste without the woody fraction (GWWW). The assessment included carbon sequestration after land application of the garden waste and composts, and associated emissions. The removed woody fraction was incinerated and energy recovery included as heat and electricity. The functional unit of the assessment was treatment of 1000 kg of garden waste generated in Denmark. Overall, the results showed that composting of garden waste resulted in comparable or higher environmental impact potentials (depletion of abiotic resources, marine eutrophication, and terrestrial eutrophication and acidification) than no treatment before land application. The toxicity potentials showed the highest normalised impact potentials for all the scenarios, but were unaffected by the different garden waste treatments. The choice of energy source for substituted heat and electricity production affected the performance of the different treatment scenarios with respect to climate change. The scenarios with removal of the woody fraction performed better than the scenarios without removal of the woody fraction when fossil energy sources were substituted, but performed worse when renewable energy sources were substituted. Furthermore, the study showed the importance of including long-term emission factors after land application of fresh and composted garden waste products since the greatest proportion of carbon and nitrogen emissions occurred after land application in three out of the five scenarios for carbon and in all scenarios for nitrogen.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Carbon sequestration, Composting, Incineration, Nitrate leaching, Organic fertiliser, Use on land

ID: 213322716