, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 40-49
Date: 18 Aug 2005

The Application of the Environmental Product Declaration to Waste Disposal in a Sanitary Landfill - Four Case Studies (10 pp)

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Abstract

Goal, Scope and Background

The aim of the present study is to evaluate, through LCA, the potential environmental impact associated to urban waste dumping in a sanitary landfill for four case studies and to compare different technologies for waste treatment and leachate or biogas management in the framework of the EPD® system. Specific data were collected on the four Italian landfills during a five-year campaign from 2000 to 2004. This work also analyses the comparability of EPD results for different products in the same product category. For this purpose, a critical review of PSR 2003:3, for preparing an EPD on ‘Collection, transfer and disposal service for urban waste in sanitary landfills', is performed.

Methods

PSR 2003:3 defines the requirements, based on environmental parameters, that should be considered in an LCA study for collecting and disposal service of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in a sanitary landfill. It defines functional unit, system boundaries towards nature, other technical systems and boundaries in time, cut-off rules, allocation rules and parameters to be declared in the EPD. This PSR is tested on four case studies representing the major landfills located from the farthest west to the farthest east side of the Ligurian Region. Those landfills are managed with different technologies as concerns waste pre-treatment and leachate or biogas treatment. For each landfill, a life cycle assessment study is performed.

Results and Discussion

The comparison of the LCA results is performed separately for the following phases: Transport, Landfill, Leachate and Biogas. The following parameters are considered: Resource use (Use of non-renewable resources with and without energy content, Use of renewable resources with and without energy content, Water consumption); Pollutant emissions expressed as potential environmental impact (Global Warming Potential from biological and fossil sources, Acidification, Ozone depletion, Photochemical oxidant formation, Eutrophication, Land use, Hazardous and other Waste production). The comparison of the LCA results obtained for alternative landfill and biogas management techniques in the case studies investigated shows that the best practicable option that benefits the environment as a whole must be identified and chosen in the LCA context. For example, a strong waste pre-treatment causes a high biological GWP in the Landfill phase, but a low GWP contribution in the Biogas phase, due to the consequent low biogas production, evaluated for 30 years since landfill closure.

Conclusion

The analysis of four case studies showed that, through the EPD tool, it is possible to make a comparison among different declarations for the same product category only with some modification and integration to existent PSR 2003:3. Results showed that different products have different performances for phases and impact categories. It is not possible to identify the \best product\ from an environmental point of view, but it is possible to identify the product (or service) with the lowest impact on the environment for each impact category and resource use.

Recommendation and Perspective

In consequences of the verification of the comprehensiveness of existent PSR 2003:3 for the comparability of EPD, some modifications and integration to existent rules are suggested.