A step forward in quantifying the substitutability of secondary materials in waste management life cycle assessment studies
- Journal Article
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a widespread tool used to guide decision-makers towards optimal strategic choices for sustainable growth. A key aspect of LCA studies of waste management systems where recycling activities are present is to account for resource recovery and the related substitution effects. Although multiple scientific papers assume a 1:1 substitution ratio between similar materials/products, this is often incorrect as the actual ratio is likely to vary. The focus of this paper is on the calculation of the substitutability coefficient for secondary materials based on technical characteristics. A state of the art literature review showed that many different calculation procedures were applied, which led to a wide variety of substitutability coefficients (sometimes provided under different terminology). In this perspective, the objective of this paper is to provide guidelines on the procedure to be followed to calculate the substitutability coefficient for secondary materials, based on technical characteristics. These guidelines are then applied to two waste management case studies, one dealing with bottom ashes from incineration and the other with plastic waste. In total, sixteen technical substitutability coefficients are given for ten secondary materials, based on state of the art and presented case studies. The paper thus represents a step forward in quantifying the substitutability of secondary materials in waste management LCA studies. The guidelines presented may allow other case studies to enrich the list of coefficients, useful for all LCA practitioners in a harmonized way allowing a more correct evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with recycling activities. © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. Show more
Journal / seriesWaste Management
Pages / Article No.
SubjectSecondary resources; Substitution; LCA; Substitutability coefficient; Waste management; Recycling
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