Waste Management Options and Climate Change
(Resource Based Waste Management)
Author: Alison Smith, Keith Brown, Steve Ogilvie, Kathryn Rushton and Judith BatesThis document is the final report of a study undertaken for the European Commission Environment Directorate General by AEA Technology to assess the climate change impacts of options for municipal solid waste (MSW) management in the EU. The study covers the fifteen member states of the European Union and the time horizon 2000 to 2020. The study is intended to inform developing EU-level waste policy, in terms of climate change impacts only. Climate change impacts are only one of a number of environmental impacts that derive from solid waste management options. Other impacts include health effects attributable to air pollutants such as NOx , SO2 , dioxins and fine particles, emissions of ozone depleting substances, contamination of water bodies, depletion of non-renewable resources, disamenity effects, noise, accidents etc. These environmental impacts are in addition to the socio-economic aspects of alternative ways of managing waste. All of these factors need to be properly considered in the determination of a balanced policy for sustainable waste management, of which the climate change elements are but one aspect. The study is not intended as a tool for municipal or regional waste planning, where local factors, such as the availability of existing waste management facilities and duration of waste management contracts, markets for recyclables, geographic and socio-economic factors, will exert the dominant influence. The study assesses climate change impacts in terms of net fluxes of greenhouse gases from various combinations of options used for the management of MSW. The waste management options considered are: Landfill of untreated waste, Incineration, Mechanical biological treatment (MBT), Composting, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and Recycling.