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Waste Management 30 (2010) 26362648

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Waste Management
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/wasman

Models for waste life cycle assessment: Review of technical assumptions


Emmanuel C. Gentil a, Anders Damgaard a, Michael Hauschild b, Gran Finnveden c, Ola Eriksson d,
Susan Thorneloe e, Pervin Ozge Kaplan e, Morton Barlaz f, Olivier Muller g, Yasuhiro Matsui h, Ryota Ii i,
Thomas H. Christensen a,*
a

Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
DTU Management, Innovation and Sustainability Group, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
Environmental Strategies Research fms, Royal Institute of Technology, (KTH) 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
d
Department of Technology and Built Environment, University of Gvle, S-801 76 Gvle, Sweden
e
US EPA, Ofce of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park NC 27711, USA
f
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7908, USA
g
PricewaterhouseCoopers, 63, rue de Villiers, 92208 Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
h
Graduate School of Environmental Science, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan
i
Pacic Consultants Co. Ltd., 1-7-5, Sekito, Tama-shi, Tokyo, Japan
b
c

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 25 February 2010
Accepted 3 June 2010
Available online 5 July 2010

a b s t r a c t
A number of waste life cycle assessment (LCA) models have been gradually developed since the early
1990s, in a number of countries, usually independently from each other. Large discrepancies in results
have been observed among different waste LCA models, although it has also been shown that results from
different LCA studies can be consistent. This paper is an attempt to identify, review and analyse methodologies and technical assumptions used in various parts of selected waste LCA models. Several criteria
were identied, which could have signicant impacts on the results, such as the functional unit, system
boundaries, waste composition and energy modelling. The modelling assumptions of waste management
processes, ranging from collection, transportation, intermediate facilities, recycling, thermal treatment,
biological treatment, and landlling, are obviously critical when comparing waste LCA models.
This review infers that some of the differences in waste LCA models are inherent to the time they were
developed. It is expected that models developed later, benet from past modelling assumptions and
knowledge and issues. Models developed in different countries furthermore rely on geographic specicities that have an impact on the results of waste LCA models. The review concludes that more effort
should be employed to harmonise and validate non-geographic assumptions to strengthen waste LCA
modelling.
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Since the early 1990s, waste LCA tools have been developed to
model the environmental performance of waste management systems (Morrissey and Browne, 2004; Bjrklund et al., 2010). These
models have been developed by a range of environmental protection agencies, universities or consultancies, mainly in Europe and
North America. However, due to the complex nature of waste management modelling and the range of country-specic data, these
models have been developed in relative isolation and consequently
suffer a lack of harmonisation.
LCA can be applied to waste management systems either by
using dedicated waste LCA tools or by using product LCA tools. In

* Corresponding author. Address: Department of Environmental Engineering,


Building 115, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby,
Denmark. Tel.: +45 45251603; fax: +45 45932850.
E-mail address: thc@env.dtu.dk (T.H. Christensen).
0956-053X/$ - see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2010.06.004

this paper, the focus is on waste LCA tools for the assessment of
an integrated waste management system. It can however be noted
that essentially the same generic LCA methodology can be used in
either case (Finnveden, 1999a; Clift et al., 2000).
Winkler (2004) and Winkler and Bilitewski (2007) compared
LCA models for waste management, including a quantitative
assessment of six models (ARES, EPIC/CSR, IWM2, MSW-DST, ORWARE and UMBERTO). The assessment was made by computing
the same waste management scenario (the city of Dresden in Germany) in all six waste LCA models. Discrepancies of up to 1400% for
some results, which lead to contradictory results among models,
were identied. The work of Winkler and Bilitewski (2007) is
important because the authors were the rst to highlight and
quantify signicant differences among different waste LCA models.
Similarly, Rimaityt et al. (2007) compared the incineration outputs of the LCAIWM model with measured emissions data and
observed large differences between the model and the measured
data. Since modelling assumptions, and possibly calculation errors

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E.C. Gentil et al. / Waste Management 30 (2010) 26362648

in the models, are leading to different results, it is important to


identify key criteria that could potentially have signicant consequences on the results of waste LCA models.
LCA models are frequently used to compare waste treatment
alternatives (Finnveden and Ekvall, 1998; Bjrklund and Finnveden, 2005; Villanueva and Wenzel, 2007). These studies have in
general concluded that the relative order of results is consistent
among different studies. In contrast, Winkler and Bilitewski suggested that large differences among models resulted in changes
in the relative order of treatment and disposal alternatives.
The objective of this paper is to review and analyse a number of
different LCA models, developed throughout the world, for waste
and recyclables management. The review is based on available literature, consultation with LCA model developers and use of the different models, where possible. The paper focuses on methodology,
input parameters and modelling assumptions. For purpose of simplication, this paper excludes the life cycle impact assessment
(LCIA) phase and does not provide a comparison of inventories
among models but rather focuses on the technical assumptions
leading to the results.
2. Waste management and LCA models
Waste LCA, as opposed to product LCA, is a system LCA that
aims at assessing the environmental performance of a number of
interconnected waste management technologies based on a specic waste composition from the point of generation of the waste
to its nal disposal. Waste management is dened by all the activities including collection, transport, handling, treatment, material
and energy recovery and disposal of waste, as indicated in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1 illustrates a generic waste management system with the
linkages between the waste and the wider environment. In a waste

LCA, various elements contained in the waste (elemental waste


composition) are often mathematically linked to the emissions
originating from the waste handling, treatments or disposal. From
a generic perspective, it is expected that a waste LCA model has the
ability to model the following aspects:
 Environmental performance for the management of a variable
fractional waste composition. Models should respond to a
change in fractional waste composition, such as varying content
of e.g. paper and plastic.
 Emissions related to the elemental composition of the waste.
Models should respond to elemental waste specic emissions,
such as, for example, mercury content in newspaper.
 Emissions independent of the waste composition. Models
should respond to waste management processes operating specic emissions, such as the amount of dioxin emitted.
 Emission offsets with other systems. Models should include
substitution with energy systems and manufacturing of primary
resources, e.g. such as aluminium.
 Flexible system boundaries. Models should be able to include
country-specic energy mix in the calculation.
 Determination of life cycle inventory (LCI) of an integrated
waste management system. Models should include the assessment of an integrated and interconnected system composed
of number of transportation and waste management processes,
ranging from collection to nal disposal.
3. Choice of waste LCA tools to be reviewed
Almost 50 LCA models are currently available in Europe (EPLCA,
2008), and more on a worldwide basis, with different applicability,
functionality, licensing restrictions and costs. In order to undertake

Resources and Energy Inputs


Construction Maintenance Decommission Ancillary Materials - Energy
Societal
OUTPUTS
Thermal Treatment
Incineration
Pyrolysis
Gasification

Waste
Quantity
Fractions
Elements
properties

Collection
Bins
Bags
Bottle banks

Home
Composting

Transport
Trucks
Ship
Train
Individual vehicles

Intermediate
Facilities
Automatic
Manual

Material Recovery
Open-loop
Close-loop

Landfill
Open dump
Bioreactor
Inert

SYSTEM EXCHANGE

Biological Treatment
Compost
Anaerobic Digestion
MBT

Energy System
Electricity
Heat
Fuel

Biosphere
Forestry
Soil

Industrial System
Reprocessing

Carbon sink

Export
Co-treatment

Decommission Ancillary materials Process related emissions Waste related emissions


Direct Environmental Emissions

Indirect
Environmental benefits

Fig. 1. Generic integrated waste management system. The outer dotted line represents society at large (earth system and technosphere). The inner dotted line represents the
waste management systems represented by a number of waste management technologies (light shaded grey). The dark shaded grey represents the inputs and the outputs of
the whole waste management system. The box indicating the system exchange shows the relationships of materials and energy ows between the waste industry and wider
society, through substitution.

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a robust review of LCA tools, we evaluated models that t into the


pre-dened selection criteria as listed above.
Based on these selection criteria, the following models have
been considered for the review:










EASEWASTE, Denmark (Kirkeby et al., 2006);


EPIC/CSR, Canada (Haight, 1999, 2004);
IWM2, UK (McDougall et al., 2001);
LCAIWM, EU (Den Boer et al., 2005a,b, 2007);
MSW-DST, USA (Weitz et al., 1999; Solano et al., 2002a,b; Thorneloe et al., 2007);
ORWARE, Sweden (Dalemo et al., 1997; Eriksson et al., 2002);
SSWMSS, Japan (Tanaka et al., 2004; Tanaka, 2008);
WISARD, UK (Ecobilan, 1997); and
WRATE, UK (Thomas and McDougall, 2003; Gentil et al., 2005;
Coleman, 2006).

Other tools, such as ARES (Schwing, 1999), HOLIWAST


(HOLIWAST, 2006), LCA-LAND (Nielsen et al., 1998; Nielsen and
Hauschild, 1998), MIMES (Sundberg et al., 1994), MSWI (Ciroth,
1998) and WAMPS (Moora et al., 2006) were not included because
the availability of the information was either too scarce, the tool
only considered a specic waste management technology, or the
model was not an LCA tool. A summary of the development phases
of the different models are presented in Fig. 2.
4. Evaluation approach
A set of evaluation criteria has been used to assess the different
LCA models. The main comparison criteria include the functional
unit denition, system boundaries, waste composition, energy
mix and waste management processes. These criteria are considered of key relevance in waste LCA models (Bjrklund and
Bjuggren, 1998; Bjrklund, 1998; Eriksson, 2003). Other evaluation
criteria, not covered in this paper, are also of importance, such as
open-loop recycling, multi-loop recycling, cut-off criteria, sensitivity, uncertainty and Monte Carlo analyses. Finally, another very
important criterion is the inclusion of comprehensive metadata,
critical for understanding the assumptions made for dening the
waste management processes; however, this is also excluded from
this paper.
4.1. Functional unit
According to ISO 14040 (2006), the functional unit (FU) is the
quantied performance of a product or a system for use as a reference unit. The FU is dened in a similar fashion for all the models

Model

Country

MIMES-waste
ORWARE
LCA-LAND
MSWI
ARES
EPIC/CSR
MSW-DST
WISARD
IWM2
SSWMSS
LCA IWM
WAMPS
HOLIWAST
WRATE
EASEWASTE

SW
SW
DK
GER
GER
CA
USA
UK, FR, NZ
UK
JP
EU
SW
EU
UK
DK

reviewed. The FU generally include all the waste (with a specic


composition) managed (in tonnes) in a waste management system
over a dened time period (e.g. usually 1 year), for a specic region.
The FU can also be dened by normalising the data to one tonne of
waste, but this can be adapted in all the models. However, the user
should be aware of these differences when interpreting the LCI and
LCIA results. As long as the functional unit is dened consistently
across the models, this should not have any inuence on the model
comparison.
4.2. System boundaries
System boundaries are considered to be essential criteria for
waste LCA models, since their denition could drastically inuence
model results (Wenzel and Villanueva, 2006a). In the inventory
analysis there are three groups of system boundaries (Guine,
2002). Time consideration can also be included as a system boundary. These types of system boundaries include:
 The technical system and the environment;
 Time horizon boundaries;
 The technical system and other technical systems (upstream
and downstream boundaries, such as the energy system); and
 Signicant and insignicant contributions (boundary conditions
for cut-off criteria).
4.2.1. Technical system and the environment
The boundary conditions dened for a waste management system and the environment inuence directly the outcome of an LCA
study. Waste entering the waste management system as an input,
excludes the imbedded inputs because of the technical impossibility to account for all the products life cycles ending up as a waste
(Zero burden approach). The level of inclusion and quantity of
the inputs and the outputs entering and leaving waste management systems are different among the different models and can
be different among waste management activities. This is due to
the different complexity and exhaustiveness of the models where
developers had to choose the type and quantity of inputs and outputs based on best available knowledge at the time of
development.
The geographical boundaries and therefore the geographical
scope are also critical for the denition of the boundaries between
the technical system and the environment in waste LCA modelling.
The reviewed models contain data that are country-specic and
therefore a particular attention should be taken when using a model developed in one country and used in another. For instance, the
environmental performance of electricity production could be

'94 '95 '96 '97 '98 '99 '00 '01 '02 '03 '04 '05 '06 '07 '08

'09

Source

Sundberg, 1994
Dalemo et al. , 1997, Eriksson et al. , 2002
Nielsen et al. , 1998a,b
Ciroth, 1998
Schwing, 1999
Haight, 1999, 2004
Weitz et al. ,1999, Thorneloe et al ., 2007
Ecobilan, 1999
Mc Dougall, 2000
Tanaka et al ., 2004, Tanaka, 2008
Den Boer et al. , 2005a,b, 2007
Moora, et al. , 2006
HOLIWAST, 2006
Gentil et al , 2005, Coleman, 2006
Kirkeby et al. , 2006

Fig. 2. Timeline of selected waste LCA models. The grey area indicates the launch time of the models. The solid line represents the active development phase and launch of
subsequent versions of the same model, while the dotted line indicates the research leading to the development phase or the subsequent research not necessarily leading to
an active development (use of the model as a research tool). This timeline has been developed based on available literature and discussions with authors and developers.

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generated with two different coal inventories, leading to differences in the waste LCA results.
4.2.2. Time horizon boundaries
The time horizon boundary is also an important assessment criterion when comparing different models. The time horizon boundary is mainly relevant for the modelling of landlls, and to a lesser
extent, land application of biotreated materials, since the emissions from other waste treatment technologies are immediate.
For example, Hyks et al. (2009) found that heavy metals were
leaching out very slowly (over 10,000 years). The choice of time
horizon could signicantly inuence the outcome of the LCA study,
if emissions are calculated over a short time horizon (less than or
equal to 100 years) or over long time horizon (several thousand
years). Differences in time horizon boundaries are summarised in
Table 1.
In one model (ORWARE) two time horizons are considered:
emissions of the rst 100 years, based mainly on monitoring and
the remaining emissions that will potentially be emitted in the future. In other types of models, a 100-year time horizon has been
chosen (EPIC/CSR, LCAIWM and MSW-DST), although MSW-DST
also allows a 20 and 500 year time horizon for landll leachate.
In some models (WISARD and WRATE), it is assumed that the
long-term impacts should consider innity to encompass more
than 90% of the emissions. In WRATE, 20,000 years have been considered as innite for the modelling of leachate emissions, which
is suggested to correspond to about 95% of the potential emissions
(Hall et al., 2005).
One model (EASEWASTE) allows the user to dene the time
horizon which provides the greatest exibility. The model also includes results for longer term emissions using the concept of
stored toxicity for heavy metals. This parameter indicates the total heavy metal leaching potential based on the composition and
quantity of waste but, as default, only the rst 100 years of emissions are calculated for the leachate emissions. The remaining, or
stored toxicity potential, will eventually be released to the environment but remains in the landll for an undetermined duration
(Hauschild et al., 2008). IWM2 provides a different approach where
the time horizon is not dened, instead the typical amount of landll gas and leachate generated produced per tonne of waste landlled is dened.
The time horizon boundaries are also dened by the life time
of a waste management process. This is relevant for those models including the environmental emissions of construction,
maintenance and decommissioning, such as WISARD and
WRATE. For example, it is expected that the annual environmental impacts of the construction, maintenance and demolition
of a waste facility will be lower if the life span of that process
is greater. Finally, the time horizon boundary for sequestrated
biogenic carbon, when considered by the model, is based over
a 100-year perspective of storage, except for WRATE
(20,000 years).

Table 1
Assumptions on leachate and landll gas emissions.
Model

Leachates

Landll gas

EASEWASTE
EPIC/CSR
IWM2
LCAIWM
MSW-DST
ORWARE
SSWMSS
WISARD
WRATE

Var. (100 years)


100 years
150 l/t waste
100 years
20, 100 and 500 years
100 years, remaining time

500 years
20,000 years

Var. (100 years)


100 years
250 Nm3/t waste
156 Nm3/t waste
100 years
100 years
100 years
100 years
150 years

2639

4.2.3. Upstream and downstream boundaries


Upstream boundaries are the environmental aspects associated
with the extraction, manufacturing, distribution and use of a given
product prior to its end of life. When modelling waste LCA systems,
a zero burden assumption is taken, indicating that no imbedded
impact is included in the waste modelled. The imbedded impacts
are all the impacts generated from the production of a product before it becomes a waste. All the models reviewed included the zero
burden assumption.
Some models, such as EASEWASTE, MSW-DST, WISARD and
WRATE include the LCI of some upstream ancillary materials used
for the operations of the plants (i.e. lime for air pollution control
during waste combustion). The level of inclusion of upstream
materials and the details of their respective LCI are different among
the different models because of the different LCI databases used
and the specic technical requirements modelled.
One of the criteria of importance concerning system boundaries,
that could signicantly affect LCA results, is the denition of the
boundaries of the materials and the energy recovered following
waste management treatment, otherwise called downstream system boundaries. In the ORWARE model, the downstream boundaries are part of the background system or the compensatory
system. These downstream boundaries refer to the system exchange in Fig. 1.
In IWM2, the downstream boundary for material recovery is dened when the material is leaving the material recovery facility
(MRF). Subsequent stages (transport of separated materials leaving
the MRF and preparation and reprocessing of the secondary materials) are excluded from the waste management system and therefore outside the system boundaries.
In other models, the boundaries are extended to the transport
and reprocessing stage of the materials separated by the waste
management system, and include avoided impacts from virgin production. The substitutional LCI value of downstream materials and
energy production is different among the different models because
of their different geographical development and different choices
of LCI databases.
4.2.4. Boundary conditions for cut-off criteria
The boundary conditions between signicant parts and insignificant parts, within a waste management system, are dened by the
concept of cut-off rules. According to ISO 14040 (2006), cut-off
rules should be clearly understood and described. It is dened by
the amount of material or energy ow or the level of environmental signicance associated with unit process or system to be excluded from a study. A cut-off rule on time horizon is also used
in LCA after a certain time period where cumulative impacts are
considered to be insignicant (Finnveden, 1999b). In contrast, Frischknecht et al. (2004) have considered that no strict quantitative
cut-off rules should be applied and would instead rely on expert
judgement to dene the boundaries conditions between the significant and insignicant parts of the system. Cut-off rules applied to
waste management were specically discussed by the International Expert Group on life cycle assessment in waste management
(Thomas and McDougall, 2003), however no recommendation was
suggested. Cut-off rules are not well documented in the models reviewed. None of the models, however, support user-dened cut-off
rules denition, as the cut-off rules are imbedded in the datasets.
A special case concerns the operational inputs of ancillary materials, the construction, maintenance and decommissioning of the
process. When one considers these technological boundaries, some
differences are observed among the different models, as indicated
in Table 2. It is important to note that the more comprehensive the
information on the technology (usually in the later models), the
more realistic, but also the higher the environmental burdens
compared to other models including a more limited set of data.

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This includes the comprehensiveness of both the input and output


data. This aspect needs to be carefully assessed, as it could explain
the differences observed when comparing models.
Table 2 indicates that only two models (WISARD and WRATE)
include the environmental contribution of construction, maintenance and decommissioning of waste management processes,
while EASEWASTE includes the LCI of soil transport to landlls
and MSW-DST includes the emissions of excavating and transporting daily cover material to the landll. This could be explained by
the fact that it is generally considered that the environmental load
of construction, maintenance and decommissioning of a process is
insignicant compared to the direct emissions and the avoided impacts of a process. However, it has been argued by Frischknecht
et al. (2007) that capital environmental costs could have a signicant contribution in LCA studies, including waste management
processes, especially when environmental regulations are always
requiring lower emissions during operations, which tends to increase the relative contribution of these capital goods.
4.3. Waste composition and properties
Knowledge on waste composition is the cornerstone of solid
waste LCA modelling because material fractions dening the waste
have different chemical and physical properties and can be directed to different processes in the waste management system. The
waste composition and chemical composition of each fraction
can furthermore vary from one region to another and from 1 year
to another, which can have a signicant impact on the results.
Models have different assumptions on the denition of the
waste composition or waste characterisation, due to unavailability
of international standards for characterising waste. However, the
assumptions are similar for models originating from the same
country.
EASEWASTE, MSW-DST and WRATE have the highest number of
fractions dened. All the primary waste fractions (wood, paper,
etc. . .) are included in all the models, but the secondary fractional
composition (newsprint, cardboard, etc. . .) is different among the
models. Further, the elemental fractions (zinc, cadmium, etc. . .)
may vary due to the type of elements analysed and the different
compositional analyses methods among the countries of origin
for the models.
Other waste properties (caloric value, ash content, moisture
content, etc.. . .) are also determining factors for the LCA calculation
and results. The main parameters used for the modelling are presented in Table 3.

One of the major differences among the different models is the


calculation of carbon balance. For instance, IWM2 does not distinguish between fossil and non-fossil carbon. In contrast, EPIC/CSR
does not account for the emissions of CO2 from biological sources
(in reality, biological processes do release CO2 and therefore should
be counted in the life cycle inventory but are assigned a global
warming impact factor of zero). This will have major inuence
on the global warming potential of the waste management system.
The most detailed description of carbon modelling is found in ORWARE where the biogenic (non-fossil and organic) carbon is dened in ve different types (starch, fat, cellulose, protein and
sugar). The distribution of biogenic carbon affects the degradation
of organic material in anaerobic digestion, composting and landll.
The calculation of the ratio between biogenic carbon and fossil carbon is also determinant for all the combustion technologies and
depends on how the model was developed. This ratio depends on
the assumptions made for dening the type of carbon for each
waste fraction and the inclusion of ancillary fuel (i.e. fuel oil, biomass,. . .) during the combustion process.
The elemental (chemical) waste composition varies among the
different models. First, the list of chemical components of the
waste differs among the studied models. For instance, EASEWASTE
and ORWARE include phosphorus (P), while WRATE excludes this
element, although essential to the calculation of the eutrophication
potential. Conversely, WRATE models silver (Ag) but not EASEWASTE or ORWARE. The second aspect of elemental waste composition is the actual relative proportion of elements dened for each
waste fraction. This aspect is more critical for the models using
stoichiometric elemental mass balance, since the elemental composition of the waste will have a direct impact on the direct emissions (waste dependent emissions). This is of particular importance
for heavy metals. For example, in EASEWASTE, the chromium (Cr)
content of leather shoes is 0.46% TS, while it is 0.09% TS in LCA
IWM. In EASEWASTE and MSW-DST the elemental composition is
taken into account for the combustion processes (mostly for heavy
metals and carbon type), and a user can enter values for each waste
type. WRATE includes waste specic emissions for all its processes,
including landlls.
While the fractional composition of waste can and should be
determined by the end-user (even though default data exist), the
elemental composition, more complex to determine, is usually
embedded in the model, where the end-user has little or no possibility to change the data. The elemental composition is unlikely to
change signicantly within a given model. Differences in elemental
waste composition have been observed among the models and in

Table 2
Technological boundaries of waste LCA models.

EASEWASTE

EPIC/CSR

IWM2

LCAIWM

MSW-DST

ORWARE

SSWMSS

WISARD

WRATE

Inputs
MSW
Fuel
Materials
Water
Energy
Construction
Maintenance
Decommissioning

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Ya
N
N

Y
Y
N
Y
Y
N
N
N

Y
Y
N
N
Y
N
N
N

Y
Y
Y
N
Y
N
N
N

Y
Y
N
N
Y
Ya
N
N

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Outputs
Energy
Products
Construction
Maintenance
Decommissioning
Direct emissions

Y
Y
N
N
N
Y

Y
Y
N
N
N
Y

Y
Y
N
N
N
Y

Y
Y
N
N
N
Y

Y
Y
N
N
N
Y

Y
Y
N
N
N
Y

Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

Emissions data only for daily cover (extraction and transport).

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Table 3
Main waste properties of selected waste LCA.

Waste streams
Waste fractions
Elemental composition
Total solids
Caloric value (LHV)
Ash content
Moisture content
Volatile solids
Total carbon
Carbon biological (% TS)
Carbon fossil (% TS)
Fibres (% TS)
Proteins
COD (% TS)
Fat (% TS)
Methane potential
a
b
c

EASEWASTE

EPIC/CSR

IWM2

LCAIWM

MSW-DST

ORWARE

SSWMSS

WISARD

WRATE

Y
48
30
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y

N
7
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N

N
9
N
N
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
N

N
11
18
Y
Y
N
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y

Y
48
17
Y
Ya
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
Y

Y
22
39
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y

Y
13b
8
N
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Nc
Y
N
N
N
N
N

N
34
26
N
Y
N
Y
N
N
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y

11
67
26
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y

MSW-DST uses the Higher Heating Value (HHV).


Number of default fractions with composition information in the database.
Biodegradable carbon.

order to harmonise the data, it is essential, as concluded by Burnley


(2007), to develop a standardised waste characterisation methodology: this would reduce signicantly the relative spread of results
and, consequently, minimise the error propagation at various
stages of the model. This is particularly relevant for the calculation
of human toxicity and eco-toxicity impacts.
4.4. Energy aspects
The choice of electricity mix plays an important role in the
waste LCA results (Curran et al., 2005; Finnveden et al., 2005).
The mix is dependent on the country and is evolving every year.
The calculation of the LCI of the energy mix is outside the scope
of this paper. However, it is important to understand the different
methodological approaches undertaken by the different models.
The differences among the models are based on several levels.
First, the type of energy carriers differs among the models due to
the national specicity of energy sources. Second, the LCI for a given energy carrier is different due to the geographical specicity.
For instance, the LCI of coal is different depending on where it is
mined. The third level is the calculation of the energy mix. In ORWARE and WRATE, each energy source is displayed and their ratio
can be user-modied. In the WRATE model, the power generation
efciency and the low, medium and high voltage transmission
losses (based on the average technology type within a country)
can also be dened by the user. Default energy data have been
forecasted for each year until 2020 in the WRATE model, for a
number of countries. In contrast, in EASEWASTE, MSW-DST and
WISARD, the energy mix has been compiled and includes energy
production efciency, transmission losses and all the sources of energy carriers in each dataset.
For EASEWASTE, ORWARE, WISARD and WRATE models, there
is a distinction between heat production and electricity production
from waste treatment technologies. This is reected in different
offsets from the energy from waste plants. For EASEWASTE and
ORWARE, it is also possible to use different mixes or fuels for heat
and electricity simultaneously. For instance, wind-power used for
internal electricity use in an incineration plant and hydro power
in an anaerobic digester, while the generated electricity substitutes
hard coal. In contrast, in MSW-DST, WISARD and WRATE, the default regional/national fuel mixes or user-dened fuel mix can be
used for all the MSW processes, and the energy generated can offset a different default or user-dened energy mix.
The type of energy sources used by the different models usually
represents the energy mix for the countries where the model was

originally designed. Further, for electricity, the mix is calculated on


a national or trans-national level, while heat mix is calculated on a
local or regional level. One of the key factors for the use of the waste
LCA applications is the ability for the user to choose country-specic
energy mix and the possibility for the user to modify it if needed.
The main assumptions for the modelling of energy mix are the
relative contribution of each energy source to the mix, the type of
energy carriers included in the models, the transmission losses and
the generation efciency of power plants. All the models reviewed
can accommodate for the use of a mix or a single energy carrier, except LCAIWM, since the user can only dene the energy mix LCI of
a specic country but not specic energy sources (e.g. coal, oil,
etc.). Similarly, general users of SSWMSS cannot edit the denition
of the energy mix.
4.5. Waste management processes
Modern waste management systems include an increasing
number of technologies that should be represented by waste LCA
software for the appropriate modelling of waste and resource management. Dening a waste management process in a LCA context
requires a time consuming and labour intensive collection of data.
This is the reason why a certain number of default data are
included in waste LCA models. Seven main categories are usually
included in the models; collection, transportation, intermediate
facilities, recycling, thermal treatment, biological treatment and
landll. Further, a number of more specic processes (gasication,
pyrolysis, bioethanol production, etc.. . .) representing existing or
modelled processes are included in the most recent models.
When comparing different waste LCA processes among different models, one has to make the distinction among the assumptions (e.g. type of energy substituted, material substitution ratio),
the type of technologies used in the comparison (e.g. moving grate
or uidised bed incinerators) and the external inventories used as
model inputs (the LCI of virgin and recycled material may be different in the USA relative to the UK). This is illustrated in Fig. 3, where
differences among models are expected for each stage, leading to
expected variation in results among the models. Only the technical
assumptions are addressed in this paper. Further, when comparing
several models, a distinction should be made between the functionality of the model and database availability.
4.5.1. Collection and transport
The rst step of waste collection is characterised by the collection
containers (bins and bags). LCAIWM includes basic information on

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E.C. Gentil et al. / Waste Management 30 (2010) 26362648

Waste Management
Process
Technical Assumption
Inputs

Technology Type

Outputs

Inventories used
Fig. 3. Aspects of a waste management process to be considered in waste LCA
model comparison and potential sources of differences among models.

the manufacturing of bins. The user can choose among ve different


types of container, but no inventory is assigned to the construction of
the containers (similar to EASEWASTE and MSW-DST). The life time
of the waste containers can also be dened in LCAIWM. WISARD
and WRATE have the most comprehensive LCA information of waste
containers (34 types in WRATE), which enables waste managers to
undertake comparative analysis of different container types. It includes the manufacturing inputs and outputs, the life span of the
containers and maintenance requirement, such as the quantity of
detergent for washing bins and the end of life. In IWM2, the hot
water used for washing the bins is considered to be a signicant
parameter in the LCI of collection system. No collection container
inventory data has been included in the other applications reviewed
probably because it is assumed that the contribution of collection
containers to the overall waste management system LCA is
insignicant.
Two groups of transport models have been identied in the review called mechanistic and deterministic modelling. Mechanistic
transport modelling is based on a large number of user-dened input parameters used to calculate the total distance and fuel consumption of the vehicles in the system. Emissions are then
determined from these calculated values (LCAIWM, MSW-DST,
ORWARE and SSWMSS). For instance, MSW-DST calculates the
number of trucks required to collect a specied amount of waste
at a specied frequency and then estimates the distance travelled
based on a number of input parameters that characterise the route
(e.g. time from garage to start of route, time between dwellings,
etc.. . .). In contrast, deterministic transport modelling uses only
the total distance and fuel consumption as a user-dened input
parameter and emissions are determined from these input values
(EASEWASTE, IWM2, WISARD and WRATE). This modelling distinction makes comparison among models more difcult.
Transportation is usually distinguished between waste collection (vehicle going from the households to the central waste management facility, including or not a transfer station) and the
intermodal transport among waste management facilities. Dening fuel consumption for waste collection and transportation is a
key feature when including transportation in the model. Fuel consumption depends on the collection route, type of dwellings, transport mode (road, train, and water). Fuel consumption for transport
also depends on load size (weight and volume), distance and type
of road transport (rural, motorway, and urban). Emissions factors
are mainly dependent on the efciency of the engine, the type of
fuel used and the transport pattern. For collection and intermodal
transportation, EASEWASTE requires only a fuel consumption
parameter to be entered by the user, calculated in l/t (collection)
and l/km/t (intermodal). In comparison, the LCAIWM model includes 243 input parameters, with some default data. MSW-DST
and ORWARE also have a similarly high number of input parameters including distance, maximum load, normal load, staff and
average velocity (for cost calculation), and specication if empty
or full on return transport (for allocation). Other relevant data such
as emission factors, fuel consumption can be changed by the enduser if necessary. The issue of such approach is the requirement for

the user to key in many parameters, which must be balanced


against the exibility to more closely represent site-specic scenarios and potential changes to a collection system (e.g. new trucks
or fuels).
The fuel consumption and direct emissions are highly dependent on the drive pattern. In WISARD and WRATE, three types of
transport patterns can be entered by the user (rural, urban and
motorway), which reects the default consumption and emissions
factors of the vehicles. In EASEWASTE, it is possible to create a new
vehicle with a consumption pattern reecting the drive pattern
(high population density area versus low density area). Further
model specicity from EASEWASTE and MSW-DST can be identied, where a distinction is made on the origin of the waste collected (single family, multifamily and commercial origins) which
inuence the type of vehicles and collection route used and their
associated fuel consumption and emissions. Finally, WISARD and
WRATE include environmental aspects of manufacturing, maintenance and decommissioning for the collection containers and vehicles, while it is excluded in other models.
4.5.2. Intermediate facilities
Intermediate facilities are dened differently in different models but are typically facilities where waste is stored temporarily,
such as transfer stations, material recovery facilities and recycling
banks. The environmental performance of transfer stations is
mainly due to the use of various compactors, conveyors and rolling
stock. The environmental performance of material recycling facilities is determined by the electrical energy required to operate various pieces of equipment (e.g. eddy current separators, shredders),
the use of fuel for rolling stock within the facility and the proportion of rejected waste material (contaminated recyclables and
non-recyclable materials that should be disposed to landll or
incinerated). EASEWASTE, MSW-DST, SSWMSS WISARD and
WRATE include separation efciency factors that take into account
the amount and composition of rejected material. In the EPIC/CSR
tool, the MRF or the transfer station module includes electricity
and diesel consumption (user-entered parameters and default values) and the proportion of rejects for the MRF. However, the composition of the rejects is undetermined. The module is therefore
not sensitive to a variable waste composition. It is expected that
the environmental performance of a MRF is linked to the intensity
of material segregation, independent of the waste quantity (the
higher the mechanised separation, the higher the energy inputs,
and therefore the higher the environmental impact expected).
MSW-DST includes a modular approach to a MRF design i.e. the energy requirement of a trommel, conveyer, magnet, baler, and bag
opener are considered separately and combined in a larger module.
In EASEWASTE, the MRF module is designed with a known number
of solid outputs, with a known energy consumption. Changing the
number of outputs will require a change by the expert user of the
energy consumption of the module, to reect the added machinery.
In WRATE, the default MRF module calculates the energy consumption of the process based on the quantity of waste input,
however it is not sensitive to an increase in fraction separation
(i.e. the user decides on the number of separated fractions for a
given MRF, without change to the energy consumption of that
MRF). However it is possible to create a new user-dened process
reecting a change in the number of fractions separated.
ORWARE have no default models for separation. Facilities that
do not change the chemical properties of the waste, like a MRF, a
mill or fuel preparation can, however, be constructed in the model.
4.5.3. Material recycling
The modelling of material reprocessing is undertaken by subtracting the LCI for the remanufacturing of secondary materials
from the LCI for the production of goods from virgin sources.

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E.C. Gentil et al. / Waste Management 30 (2010) 26362648

EASEWASTE, LCAIWM, MSW-DST, SSWMSS, WISARD and WRATE


include respectively 11, 6, 6, 7, 24 and 26 recycling treatment facilities in their default database. LCAIWM provides additional information on waste from electrical and electronics equipment (WEEE)
recycling.
A major difference among the models is the assumptions made
concerning the substitution ratio between virgin and recycled
materials. This is considered to be essential for the reprocessing
modelling as indicated by Wenzel and Villanueva (2006b). EASEWASTE, MSW-DST and ORWARE provide a transparent user input
substitution ratio, while the recycling processes of WISARD and
WRATE have a default substitution ratio (1:1) but this can be modied by the expert user in the allocation formula of the process.
Substitution ratio is often highly dependent on the type of recycling technology (newer processes will tend to have substitution
ratio closer to 1:1). Furthermore, the ratio is also inherent of the
type of material recycled (the substitution ratio is different for paper and glass). WISARD provides information on the substituted
amount for each of the material processes, which is xed for the
standard user. EPIC/CSR and LCAIWM consider implicitly a 1:1 ratio. IWM2 has excluded the environmental aspects of material
recovery from its boundaries. It is important to be aware of this approach when using such a tool, as this will lead to signicant differences when comparing with other models.
Another key aspect of the material recovery performance is the
modelling of the transport of the secondary material following separation (MRF) prior to the actual reprocessing (distance but also
type of transport such as roads, rail, river). Transport distances
prior reprocessing can be signicant, such as secondary paper exported to China from Europe. Some models like EASEWASTE, ORWARE, WISARD, WRATE and can implement this requirement
with relative ease.

4.5.4. Thermal treatment


Thermal treatment in MSW management includes waste incineration, pyrolysis and gasication. All of the models reviewed include
waste incineration. Recently emerged technologies including pyrolysis and gasication are included in ORWARE and WRATE. In this
section, only waste incineration is analysed.
The essential technical assumptions to be compared in the
incineration process models of the different tools are the calculations of the caloric value and moisture content, the type of energy
produced and its efciency and the type of energy sources substituted. The transfer coefcients are also of paramount importance.
Finally the determination of the solid output (bottom ash, y ash
etc.) quantity and composition is essential. The key aspects of thermal treatment parameters are summarised in Table 4.
Most of the models have created generic incineration plant but
different assumptions have been taken for the LCA modelling. In
MSW-DST, the y ash is collected, mixed with the bottom ash,
and sent to a separate ash landll. In Europe y ash and bottom
ash are most often managed separately. This is reected in the
models design.
One of the fundamental factors for determining the environmental performance of an incinerator is the energy (electricity
and heat) recovery efciency. The higher the energy recovery, the
higher the offset of other energy sources and therefore the higher
environmental savings. All reviewed models include the energy
consumption and energy production. The produced energy can
be offset against marginal energy mix for some models, such as
EASEWASTE, IWM2, LCAIWM, MSW-DST, ORWARE, WISARD
and WRATE, except EPIC/CSR. The type of energy offset (heat, electricity) and the type of energy source used and offset are determinant for the results and a key parameter when comparing waste
LCA models.

2643

The calculation of the lower heating value (LHV) plays a critical


role in many incineration equations (quantity of energy produced,
quantity of additional fuel used, quantity of ue gas produced,. . .).
The caloric value is directly related to the composition of the
waste entering the incinerator. The calculation of the LHV is undertaken differently among the different models. In LCAIWM, this
parameter is calculated based on the carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen,
sulphur, oxygen and water content of the waste, according to the
Cerbe and Hoffmann (1994) equation. In SSWMSS, the parameter
is calculated based on the carbon, hydrogen, sulphur, oxygen and
water content of the waste according to the Steuer (1926) equation. In EASEWASTE, the caloric value was determined by analysing the LHV of 48 waste fractions (Riber et al., 2009); the combined
LHV is then calculated, based on the fractional composition of
the waste. In IWM2, LCAIWM, MSW-DST, ORWARE, WISARD
and WRATE, the same approach has been employed, however the
fractional caloric values are based on literature, rather than
measurement.
Another important factor for understanding the environmental
performance of incineration is the emission abatement efciency,
which is related to the composition of waste and the quantity of
ancillary materials (lime for acid gas neutralisation, ammonia for
NOx reduction, activated carbon for mercury abatement). Abatement efciency also depends on the technology, which needs to
be described in details to ensure transparency and enable model
comparison.
According to Harrison et al. (2000) ue gas production per
tonne varies considerably from component to component. In the
MSW-DST model, the ue gas production per tonne of waste component is based on a stoichiometric combustion equation for the
MSW components and relies on ultimate analysis studies that provide the carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur and chlorine
contents of the waste constituents. In the MSW-DST, some emissions are estimated on the basis on stoichiometry alone while others are estimated on the basis of stoichiometry coupled with
emitted concentrations of individual pollutants (e.g. SOx). The
MSW-DST offers signicant exibility as a user can input alternate
stack gas concentrations where justied by specic data. In WISARD, air emissions are based on user-dened site-specic concentrations multiplied by the volume of ux gases, based on the LHV
of the waste.
IWM2 uses a similar modelling approach to the MSW-DST for
air emissions, corresponding to metal based emissions (stoichiometric approach involving a combustion equation) and non-metals
based emissions. The non-metal based emissions are calculated
by multiplying the emissions standard concentration (dened in
the legislation of the studied country) by the volume of ue gas
generated per tonne of material combusted. For non-metals emissions, EASEWASTE includes process specic emissions, proportional to the quantity of waste input, relying on measured data,
as well as literature data (Riber et al., 2008). The EPIC/CSR model
allows the user to dene the direct emissions from the incinerator,
which is interesting because the model could be applied to a specic plant with known emission data. However, the model is not
waste composition sensitive (e.g. a change of waste composition
does not affect the emissions). SSWMSS denes direct non-metals
emissions by the air pollution control equipment.
The environmental performance of incinerators also depends on
the modelling assumptions made for the calculations of the quantity of y ash and bottom ash produced, their chemical composition and the specic transfer coefcients of the pollutants among
the bottom ash, y ash, wastewater and direct emissions. This
has been described by Riber et al. (2008) and implemented in the
EASEWASTE model. Transfer coefcients have also been used in
the LCAIWM model, although these transfer coefcients are signicantly different from the EASEWASTE coefcients, which could

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E.C. Gentil et al. / Waste Management 30 (2010) 26362648

Table 4
Main incineration parameters.

Process related emissions


Input related emissions
Electricity recovery efciency
Steam recovery efciency
User-dened energy efciency
District heating offset
Marginal energy Input
Marginal energy output
Average energy mix input
Average energy mix output
Ancillary materials
Elemental mass balance
Biological and fossil carbon
Transfer coefcient
Fly ash
Bottom ash
Transport of ashes
Disposal modelling of ashes
Recycling of ashes
User-dened ash quantity
Waste related ash composition
Waste related caloric value

EASEWASTE

EPIC/CSR

IWM2

LCAIWM

MSW-DST12l

ORWARE

SSWMSS

WISARD

WRATE

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y

N
Ya
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Yd
Yd
Y
N
N
Y
N
N

Y
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
Y
Y
?
N
N
N
Ye
Ye
Y
N
N
N
N
Y

Y
Y
N
N
N
Y
N
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
N
N
N
Ng

Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Nb
Y
Y
Y
Y
Yc
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y

Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y

Y
Yi
Y
N
N
N
N
N
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
N
Yj
N
N
Yk

Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Yh
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y

Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
N
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Yf
Y
Yf
N
Y

Input related emissions only for CO2.


District heating is not widely available in the US, so this feature was not implemented in the model.
c
While the ancillary material is included in the calculations, it is not known whether the LCI of these materials have been included.
d
The ash composition is calculated based on the ash content of the waste fractions. By default 10% of the total ash is y ash. About 5% of ash is added to take into account
ash production from ancillary materials.
e
In IWM2, the quantity of y ash is determined by the ash content in each waste fraction. The composition of the ash is xed.
f
In WISARD and WRATE, expert users can add a certain quantity of ash by creating a new user-dened process. The modelling of ash in the landll has been done based on
default composition and modelled using LandSim.
g
The caloric value is dened by the Cerbe and Hoffmann (1994) equation.
h
WISARD calculates the carbon balance before calculations during the consistency tests and informs the user if carbon is unbalanced.
i
Input related emissions only for CO2 and CH4.
j
Recycled as molten slag.
k
The caloric value is dened by the Steuer (1926) equation.
l
Details described in Harrison et al. (2000).
b

lead to signicant differences in the LCA results. This is particularly


relevant for zinc (Zn), mercury (Hg) and cadmium (Cd). The ORWARE model also uses transfer coefcients.
The calculation of the environmental impacts of the different
ashes (transport and landlling) plays an important role on the
evaluation of the environmental performance of incinerators (Astrup et al., 2006). The modelling assumptions for the determination
of incinerator ashes composition and their leaching properties in
landll are different for the different models reviewed. This can
be explained by the release dates of the applications, where the
understanding of these parameters was not as clear in the earlier
models. EASEWASTE and ORWARE include a more sophisticated
modelling of the fate of y ashes, where a detailed elemental mass
balance is undertaken among the incoming waste composition and
quantity, the ashes composition and the transfer coefcients. In
contrast, WISARD and WRATE generate a generic ash composition
based on a default waste composition, which means that a variation of waste composition will not change the ash composition
and its behaviour in a landll. For LCAIWM, MSW-DST and
WRATE, the quantity of ash is calculated based on the inert ash
content of each waste fraction, while the chemical composition is
xed. The ash stabilisation process prior to landll is excluded in
all the models, except in EASEWASTE and ORWARE.
It should be noted that the air pollution control equipment
needs to be replaced from time to time, during the life time of
the incinerator. This constitutes a source of solid waste (potentially
hazardous) that will require disposal to landll. Disposal of air pollution control equipment has been excluded from all models, except for WRATE.
A specic issue to waste incineration is the modelling of biogenic and fossil CO2 emissions. Earlier models did not distinguish

the origin of the CO2 emitted (IWM2), and thus overestimating


the impacts from CO2 emissions (all CO2 emissions are included).
In the other models, a distinction is made between the two types
of carbon but the assessment of the ratio between biogenic and
fossil CO2 emissions differs among the different models mainly
due to the different assumptions in the waste composition.
4.5.5. Biological treatment
Biological treatment of waste (composting and anaerobic digestion), is becoming more widespread for the management of the
biodegradable component of municipal waste (i.e. food and green
waste). All the different waste LCA applications reviewed have a
biotreatment module, although MSW-DST does not include anaerobic digestion because of the low occurrence of this technology in
the USA at the time the DST was developed.
The different system boundaries assumptions among the different models can lead to different results as described by Hansen
et al. (2006). Some models calculate the composition of the biotreated material based on the waste composition (EASEWASTE,
LCAIWM and ORWARE). For EPIC/CSR, it is estimated that the produced compost would offset 10% the total CO2 emissions, due to
the avoided emissions of GHG from fertilizer and peat production.
No other emission is modelled from compost in EPIC/CSR. For
MSW-DST, complete decomposition is modelled where no CO2 is
further emitted because it is argued that decomposition of compost will continue after it is applied to land (Komilis and Ham,
2000). In contrast, in EASEWASTE and WRATE, a separate land
use module for the modelling of biotreated materials is included
in the model. For IWM2, MSW-DST, WISARD and WRATE, typical
compositions of compost are pre-dened in the models, with a
varying degree of detail. Models that are waste composition

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E.C. Gentil et al. / Waste Management 30 (2010) 26362648

sensitive (EASEWASTE and ORWARE) tend to be more realistic and


more precise than other models.
The key parameters used in the calculation of the composition
of the biotreated materials include specic waste properties, such
as the determination of C, N, P, K, used in the carbon management
and the fertilizer substitution calculations. The concentration of
heavy metals in the incoming waste is also used in the calculation
of the biotreated material composition. For each of the elements
used in the calculation, transfer coefcients need to be dened to
assess the elemental distribution in each environmental compartment (e.g. N loss in air emissions or P leaching in the groundwater).
Only EASEWASTE and ORWARE provide this functionality. In the
EASEWASTE model, it is assumed that all the heavy metals contained in the waste are transferred to the compost composition
(it is assumed that no leaching during the treatment is occurring).
The volatile solids (VS) and their degradation for each waste fraction are used in the EASEWASTE model. These parameters are included for the calculation of carbon emitted to air as CO2 or CH4,
depending on the type of process and type of management. Material substitution (NPK fertilizer, peat, wood chips, straw) is also
calculated (EASEWASTE, ORWARE, WISARD and WRATE) but specically excluded from the modelling in MSW-DST because the
waste treated in MSW-DST did not produce a material of sufcient
quality to offset a fertilizer. In addition, ORWARE uses transfer
coefcients to model the degradation of organic persistent pollutants (CHX, AOX, PAH, phenols, PCB and dioxins). The anaerobic
digestion module in ORWARE is based on the calculation of the different carbon degradation, associated with hydraulic retention
time factor.
The modelling of biotreatment processes is also differentiated
by the assumptions made concerning the biogenic carbon sequestration. EASEWASTE calculates the quantity of biogenic carbon
sequestered, estimated to be between 10% and 15%, depending
on the soil type, over a 100 year period. EPIC/CSR includes carbon
sequestration but only for paper recycling (e.g. increased forest
sequestration due to reduced demand on virgin paper) and landll,
but exclude sequestration from biotreatment processes. Carbon
sequestration is not included in IWM2. In LCAIWM, sequestration
is excluded from landll but included in the soil application from
compost (8.2%, over a 100 year period). It is possible to model
the carbon sequestration in ORWARE, which is set at different values for sequestration to soil (from land spreading), where 20% of
the biogenic carbon is assumed bound to the soil and 310% of
the biogenic carbon is assumed sequestered in the landll. These
values are currently been updated. In WRATE, sequestration is assumed to be 2% for soil application. These different assumptions
will generate differences in the LCA results and need to be addressed when comparing waste LCA models.
The retention time parameter (processing time for biotreatment) is correlated to the level of degradation of the organic waste
(the longer the retention time, the higher the emissions at the
treatment plant). In WRATE, the user can modify the retention
time of a process for biotreatment process. In WISARD, a carbon
degradation coefcient is dened for composting. Biogasication
(anaerobic digestion) is calculated based on production of biogas
per waste fraction. In EASEWASTE, a degradation factor is user-entered, based on the degradability of the 48 waste fractions (% degradation of VS). This approach enables the model to be sensitive to
waste composition. A mass balance is used to estimate metals in
the compost product based on the metals content of the waste
material, although no transfer coefcient is dened for the heavy
metals distribution to the different environmental compartments.
The carbon emissions are based on the quantity of degraded carbon (calculated or user-entered). Methane emissions are calculated as the percentage of methane produced from the degraded
carbon.

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Energy consumption (mainly for composting processes) and energy production (for anaerobic digestion processes) assumptions
are also critical when comparing different models but also when
comparing different processes within the same model. The
assumptions will have a major inuence on the overall environmental performance.
One of the aspects that could lead to difference among the models is the level of inclusion of the substances emitted by a waste
management process (this is true for all waste management modules). For example, some models (EASEWASTE and ORWARE) include N2O and CH4 emissions from composting facilities while
others consider these substances to be insignicant and therefore
excluded from the calculation.
Finally, construction, maintenance and decommission are modelled in WRATE and in WISARD but not in the other models.
EASEWASTE and ORWARE have the most advanced approach
for the modelling of organic waste, although Hansen et al. (2006)
have reported that more complex models have been developed
but these are more specialised for the agricultural sector. EASEWASTE and ORWARE include a specic module dening the agricultural prole where the biotreated material is spread on land.
The agricultural module provides a number of soil and crop types,
the denition of the nitrogen distribution and the carbon binding
properties (for carbon sequestration). ORWARE includes energy
consumption and emissions from spreading of organic fertilisers.
In ORWARE the utilisation of the biogas is a separate submodel
with various choices for the energy recovery (engine, boiler, busses, cars and trucks).
4.5.6. Landll
The environmental aspects associated with landlls are probably the most researched waste management process, despite the
fact that landll modelling remains the most challenging due to
the uncertainties associated with emissions over very long time
horizons. Mainly three approaches have been used in the modelling of landll in a LCA context. For WRATE, it is assumed that
95% of all emissions to the environment are modelled in order to
be consistent with the emissions of other waste management processes (Hall et al., 2005). Alternatively, other models consider a
time limitation for the release of emissions to 100 years as default
(EASEWASTE, MSW-DST and WISARD), but can be modied. This is
usually called the surveyable time (Finnveden et al., 1995), where
most of the emissions of the easily released substances are assumed to have occurred. Finally, some models are including short
(0100 years) and long-term (100 years to innity) emissions that
cannot be adjusted (ORWARE).
In WRATE, the landll leachate time horizon has been calculated
over a period of 20,000 years to include most of the emissions. While
the level of uncertainty is rather high due to possible changes in the
structure of the landll and climatic changes over this period, most
of the inputs to the LandSim model (Gronow and Harris, 1996) have
been dened as probability density functions, describing the range
and type of uncertainty associated with input parameters and
enabling a probabilistic approach of leachate emissions during this
period, assuming that landll structure and liner failure rate are
known and environmental parameters are constant (Hall et al.,
2005).
MSW-DST provides three time horizons for the modelling of
landll emissions, which can be selected by the user, a short-term
time frame (20 years) corresponding to the landlls period of active decomposition, and intermediate-term time frame (100 years)
and a long-term 500 years).
EASEWASTE, IWM2, MSW-DST, ORWARE and WISARD, include
all the landll modelling calculations within the LCA models themselves. Whereas in WRATE, a signicant amount of the landll
modelling has been undertaken through the use of GasSim for

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landll gas modelling (Attenborough et al., 2002) and LandSim for


emissions to groundwater (Gronow and Harris, 1996). The advantage of the modelling approach used in WRATE is to enable high level of modelling complexity without compromising the modelling
speed of the LCA software. The disadvantage of this approach is the
requirement to run the third party landll model and transfer the
data to the LCA model (this can only be performed by reassembling
the software).
Despite this methodological approach, WRATE can model the
landll emissions of all specic fractions of the municipal waste
through the use of a loading factor attributed to each waste fraction determined through the external modelling (Hall et al.,
2006). This loading factor is the environmental load carried with
the waste fractions that will be emitted from the landll when the
waste is placed in the cell. This approach enables the model to correlate the leachate composition and quantity to a varying waste
composition.
4.5.6.1. Landll gas. In MSW-DST, the landll gas collection efciency and extent of methane oxidation can be varied annually.
In LCAIWM, the gas collection efciency default is 30% during
the operation phase and 70% after landll closure. Due to the modelling approach used for the landlls in WRATE, the gas collection
is based on the optimum utilisation of the landll gas over the
150 years of landll gas production. For instance, the model calculates the quantity of gas generated every year and determines
automatically whether the quantity and quality of the gas is sufcient for use in a landll gas engine or whether it should be ared
(Hall et al., 2005). It is therefore not possible for the user to model a
landll with aring only or with no gas collection system. In addition, it is not possible to add a new gas treatment technology for
the management of landll gas (use of biocover for the oxidation
of the fugitive methane emissions). The landll model developed
in WRATE does not allow the user to modify the landll technology
(developing a bioreactor model for example). WRATE includes a
generic landll model where the user-entered data is limited to
the waste input (quantity and composition), the total capacity,
the annual capacity and the type of landll technology. It is assumed that 10% of the fugitive emissions are oxidised through
the cap in WRATE and 18.5% in WISARD.
In EASEWASTE, MSW-DST and WISARD, the amount of methane
generated in the landll is directly related to the methane potential
of the waste landlled, while the composition of the gas (trace gas
components) is set at typical values within each period. In EASEWASTE and MSW-DST, the user can specify the manner in which
the gas is managed (vent, are or energy recovery).
4.5.6.2. Leachate. In WRATE and WISARD, most of the leachate is
sent to a leachate treatment plant, located on the landll site with
contaminant-specic removal factors (Hall et al., 2005). Similarly,
EASEWASTE includes removal efciency of the leachate collected
and treated in the leachate treatment plant. The removal efciency
values are likely to be different between each model. Leachate
emitted to groundwater due to liner failure, and other diffuse
emissions are also modelled in WRATE. The removal efciency of
the leachate treatment plant cannot be modied in WRATE or WISARD, but the leachate quantity and composition are calculated
based on the incoming waste composition. Rain fall is not considered as a key factor for leachate production since the modelled
landlls are capped following operations. Precipitation is not user
editable in WRATE.
In the MSW-DST, the leachate collection efciency and the
quantity of leachate generated as a fraction of precipitation are
user input with defaults provided. The model also includes
pollutant specic removal efciencies during leachate treatment.

However, leachate composition is not directly related to the waste


composition by a mass balance.
In the EPIC/CSR model, it is possible for the user to modify the
leachate collection efciency system. The default values are 0%
for unlined landlls with no collection system, 30% for unlined
landll with a leachate collection system and 90% for a lined system and a collection system (Haight, 2004). Further, the user can
dene the leachate treatment plant removal efciency of the leachate volume (but not the composition). In LCAIWM, the leachate is
based on a function of annual rainfall, which is user-dened.
In EASEWASTE, the amount of leachate generated is set as typical values (mm/year) representing the hydrological conditions
(precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, etc.) at the site and the
composition of leachate (main constituents as well as trace components) is set as typical values within each period. This means that
the leachate composition is not directly related to the waste composition on a mass balance basis. Similarly, in LCAIWM, the leachate composition, comprising of 24 elements, changes four times
depending on the age of the landll.
In ORWARE, the leachate load/quantity and quality is related to
the waste input. There are partitioning coefcients in the model for
45 substances, as described by Bjrklund (1998).
4.5.6.3. Carbon sequestration in landll. Landll can act as a sink for
carbon, where substances buried in landlls are very unlikely to be
released in the environment within geological timescales.
The carbon sequestration is calculated in EASEWASTE as the difference between the total amount of biogenic carbon entering the
landll site and the biogenic carbon emitted over a 100 years horizon. According to Manfredi and Christensen (2009), the calculated
amount of sequestrated carbon is about 50% of the total incoming
carbon. A distinction is made between biogenic and fossil carbon
sequestration in term of the contribution to global warming potential (Christensen et al., 2009). Biogenic carbon is attributed a benecial impact, while the sequestration of fossil carbon has no
impact, nor benets on climate change. About 50% carbon sequestration is also assumed in WRATE but no specic LCIA characterisation factor has been included for carbon sequestration. Other
substances are also assumed to be sequestrated in the landll
due to various vitrication and fossilisation processes in WRATE.
In the EPIC/CSR model, a sequestration factor is applied for the
paper based waste only. This sequestrated carbon is removed from
the carbon cycle and therefore subtracted from the inventories
(Haight, 2004).
LCAIWM have specically excluded carbon sequestration potential from the landll model but included carbon sequestration
in the compost module through the xation of carbon in the compost. In WISARD, carbon sequestration is currently not calculated.
This may be reviewed depending on discussions at national level.
5. Conclusion
Eight waste LCA models were identied and reviewed to compare
the functional unit, system boundaries, energy modelling, and process models including collection, transport, separation, material
reprocessing, thermal and biological treatment, and landlling.
This review has enabled us to understand more precisely the
potential differences in results when models are compared. One
of the key aspects that could affect comparability of models is
the assumption of the time horizons for landll emissions. However, the choice of input data and parameters, assumptions made
for dening the waste management processes and the choice of
output parameters all have differences that will lead to differences
in the results when models are compared.
The observed differences in modelling assumptions often are
linked to the date of development and the current level of knowledge

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E.C. Gentil et al. / Waste Management 30 (2010) 26362648

at that time. Further, the models have been optimised in their


respective countries of development and therefore tend to be most
suitable for studies in the country where they have been designed.
The user should pay particular attention when using waste LCA processes from another country than the country of the study, since
some country-specic data might be used in the LCI. In the light of
this, it is expected that differences among the models will arise. To
compare the validity and robustness of waste LCA models, it is necessary to identify, analyse, challenge and harmonise the technical
assumptions included in these models, by using a rigorous framework for computer model validation. It is important to keep in mind
the sources of differences among the models, such as input data,
technical assumption, technology type, inventories used and output
data. Despite inherent differences among models, LCA modelling has
signicantly increased our knowledge of waste management system
performance, allowing us to quantify environmental loads and benets and optimise systems.
Further research would be needed to quantify and prioritise the
sensitivity of key parameters among the models in order to attempt to harmonise and validate them internationally.
6. Disclaimer
Extensive consultation was undertaken with the developers of
the models presented in this paper. Efforts have been taken to ensure factual accuracy for the description of these tools. The information from the WRATE model is based on the main authors
past involvement in developing the model. Unfortunately, the
developers or their agents did not review the factual accuracy of
the information following requests.
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