Improving the environmental performance of bio-waste management with life cycle thinking LCT and life cycle assessment LCA
Simone Manfredi, Rana Pant
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 18(1): 285-291
Globally, many countries worldwide aim at increasing the environmental sustainability of waste management activities. Special attention is devoted to bio-waste, as its improper handling may have severe environmental consequences. In particular, most waste management strategies should encourage diverting bio-waste away from landfills to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and leachate. Legislative context The European Waste Framework Directive (WFD 2008/98/EC) defines bio-waste as biodegradable garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, caterers and retail premises and comparable waste from food processing plants . Bio-waste should not be confused with the wider term biodegradable waste , which covers also other biodegradable materials such as wood, paper and cardboard. In Europe, landfilling of untreated bio-waste is being progressively reduced to meet the requirements set by the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC). Other options for bio-waste management are then prioritised (e.g. biological treatment), in line with the so-called waste hierarchy, the legally binding priority order for waste management established by the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). Method and outcome However, following the waste hierarchy may not always lead to the identification of the most environmentally sound option, and new approaches are thus needed for a more differentiated and science-based support to decision-making for bio-waste management. For this purpose, the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the Joint Research Centre has developed guidelines that provide environmentally sound support to decision-making and policy-making for bio-waste management using life cycle thinking and life cycle assessment. The methodological approach developed in these guidelines is presented and contextualised in this paper.