The Open UniversitySkip to content

A life cycle assessment of energy from waste and recycling in a post-carbon future

Burnley, Stephen John (2019). A life cycle assessment of energy from waste and recycling in a post-carbon future. Detritus, 05 pp. 150–162.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Life cycle assessment was used to investigate the environmental impacts and benefits of managing residual municipal solid waste, waste newspapers and organic waste for two energy supply scenarios. In the first scenario, the electricity generated by energy from waste and landfill gas combustion displaces grid electricity generated from natural gas. The electricity and process heat used in the recycling and primary material production processes are also generated from gas. In the second scenario, wind power is the marginal electricity source displaced by energy from waste (EfW) and landfill gas use and wind and biomass are used to provide process electricity and heat respectively. The results show that, under both energy supply scenarios, treating the residual non-recyclable municipal solid waste in EfW facilities is preferable to landfill. Comparing the recycling of waste paper with EfW shows that neither option can be regarded as the better environment option and this is the case regardless of the energy supply scenario. The environmental burdens of treating organic waste by EfW increase with a move to wind power and, in this case, the results suggest that composting has environmental advantages over EfW. Normalising the LCA results demonstrates that waste management represents a low proportion (-1.5% to 1.5%) of an individual’s contribution to their overall LCA impacts.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2018 Cisa
ISSN: 2611-4135
Keywords: Life cycle assessment; Environmental impact; Low-carbon future; Energy
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 60301
Depositing User: Stephen Burnley
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2019 10:14
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2019 14:09
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU