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Waste Manag. 2010 Mar;30(3):433-40. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2009.09.017. Epub 2009 Oct 23.

Contribution of individual waste fractions to the environmental impacts from landfilling of municipal solid waste.

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Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, DTU-Building 115, DK 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark.


A number of LCA-based studies have reported on the environmental performance of landfilling of mixed waste, but little is known about the relative contributions of individual waste fractions to the overall impact potentials estimated for the mixed waste. In this paper, an empirical model has been used to estimate the emissions to the environment from landfilling of individual waste fractions. By means of the LCA-model EASEWASTE, the emissions estimated have been used to quantify how much of the overall impact potential for each impact category is to be attributed to the individual waste fractions. Impact potentials are estimated for 1 tonne of mixed waste disposed off in a conventional landfill with bottom liner, leachate collection and treatment and gas collection and utilization for electricity generation. All the environmental aspects are accounted for 100 years after disposal and several impact categories have been considered, including standard categories, toxicity-related categories and groundwater contamination. Amongst the standard and toxicity-related categories, the highest potential impact is estimated for human toxicity via soil (HTs; 12 mPE/tonne). This is mostly caused by leaching of heavy metals from ashes (e.g. residues from roads cleaning and vacuum cleaning bags), batteries, paper and metals. On the other hand, substantial net environmental savings are estimated for the categories Global Warming (GW; -31 mPE/tonne) and Eco-Toxicity in water chronic (ETwc; -53 mPE/tonne). These savings are mostly determined by the waste fractions characterized by a high content of biogenic carbon (paper, organics, other combustible waste). These savings are due to emissions from energy generation avoided by landfill gas utilization, and by the storage of biogenic carbon in the landfill due to incomplete waste degradation.

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