Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 133–149 | Cite as

Optimization of the municipal solid waste management system using a hybrid life cycle assessment–emergy approach in Tehran

  • Mohammad Falahi
  • Akram AvamiEmail author


The sustainable design of the waste-management system is of crucial importance for cities like Tehran, capital of Iran. Tehran’s municipal solid-waste management has adopted modern practices and technologies very slowly. This study proposes the optimum pathway to reach maximum environmental benefits as well as the most cost-effective technologies according to the financial limits. The hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA)–emergy approach is applied to utilize the life cycle emissions as an inventory database to estimate the ecosystem services provided by the natural ecosystem to dilute the emissions and compensate raw material consumption. Among organic waste-treatment options, composting is optimally chosen by the hybrid LCA–emergy approach while considering the LCA method solely; the anaerobic digestion is the preferable option. Recycling is the most preferable solution for paper, plastic, and glass in terms of energy recovery and cost saving. However, the budget constraint affects the results. Considering the budget constraint, 65% of ferrous metals are diverted from recycling into metal landfill. Cost reduction of recycling technologies may divert metal flow from landfill to recycling. The limited budget has a significant impact on recycling solutions. Overall, the combination of composting and source separation should be considered as the most sustainable and eco-friendly pathway in Tehran.


Municipal solid waste Life cycle assessment (LCA) Emergy Tehran 

List of symbols



Acidification potential


Photochemical ozone formation


Nutrient enrichment


Freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity potential


Marine aquatic ecotoxicity potential


Terrestrial ecotoxicity potential


Respiratory effect


Ionized radiation


Abiotic resource depletion


Resource depletion


Global warming potential


Ecosystem quality


Human toxicity potential


Cumulative energy demand


Impact score


Characterization factor


Life cycle intervention


Environmental impact (end-point impact unit/year)


Net emergy


Unit emergy coefficient (SeJ/ton)


Flow of waste (ton/year)


Fresh air (kg air/year)


Air density (kg/m3)


Annual air emission of each technology (kg emission/yr)


Standard concentration for a pollutant (kg emission/m3 air)


Ecosystem emergy equivalent (SeJ)


Air kinetic energy (J)


Transformity (SeJ/J)


Dry air transformity (SeJ/J)


Wind speed (m/s)


Total generation of waste




Source segregated waste


Direct disposed waste


Waste entered into processing unit


Total disposed waste


Total recovered waste


Total annual budget of waste-management system


Operational cost of waste-treatment technology



Impact category








Emission compartment


Emergy output item


Emergy input item


Treatment node

\( \tau \)

Waste type (organic, paper, plastic, glass, metal, and other)


Waste source (city, hospital, towns, and firms)


Inert landfill


Paper landfill


Glass landfill


Plastic landfill


Metal landfill


Organic landfill




Anaerobic digestion












Other waste



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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Energy Systems Engineering Group, Department of Energy EngineeringSharif University of TechnologyTehranIslamic Republic of Iran

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