Comparative assessment of sewage sludge disposal alternatives in Mashhad: a life cycle perspective

  • Fatemeh Rostami
  • Seyyed Mohammad Tafazzoli
  • Samaneh Tavakoli Aminian
  • Akram AvamiEmail author
Research Article


Municipal wastewater treatment facilities produce a lot of sludge which is concentrated with different pollutants. The sustainable design of the sludge disposal alternatives is of crucial importance for touristic cities like Mashhad in Iran. Increasing sludge generation and its accumulation in the city and more stringent legislations highlight the challenge of sludge disposal, recently. This study compares different alternatives to reach maximum possible environmental benefits as well as the most cost-effective technologies. In this study, life cycle analysis (LCA) assesses different scenarios for disposal of sewage sludge which is aerobically treated and dewatered for two real case studies. Alteymore and KhinArab are wastewater treatment units in the city. The scenarios include incineration, composting, and landfilling alternatives. The incineration and landfill scenarios are the least interesting solutions according to different life cycle impact categories. The heavy metals’ emission to the soil worsens their impacts. Also, lifecycle cost analysis reveals that composting scenario is more cost-saving than others. However, main disadvantage of the composting scenario is its contribution in freshwater eutrophication. To move towards sustainability, the composting scenario is here determined as the best scenario for sludge disposal in Mashhad.


Economic feasibility Life cycle assessment Sludge disposal Wastewater treatment 



The authors appreciate the anonymous reviewers for their useful comments that help them a lot to improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fatemeh Rostami
    • 1
  • Seyyed Mohammad Tafazzoli
    • 2
  • Samaneh Tavakoli Aminian
    • 2
  • Akram Avami
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Energy Systems Engineering Group, Department of Energy EngineeringSharif University of TechnologyTehranIslamic Republic of Iran
  2. 2.Water and Wastewater Company of MashhadMashhadIslamic Republic of Iran

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