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Multi-level multi-criteria analysis of alternative fuels for waste collection vehicles in the United States

Multi-level multi-criteria analysis of alternative fuels for waste collection vehicles in the United States

Science of the Total Environment 550: 349-361

Historically, the U.S. waste collection fleet was dominated by diesel-fueled waste collection vehicles (WCVs); the growing need for sustainable waste collection has urged decision makers to incorporate economically efficient alternative fuels, while mitigating environmental impacts. The pros and cons of alternative fuels complicate the decisions making process, calling for a comprehensive study that assesses the multiple factors involved. Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methods allow decision makers to select the best alternatives with respect to selection criteria. In this study, two MCDA methods, Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) and Simple Additive Weighting (SAW), were used to rank fuel alternatives for the U.S. waste collection industry with respect to a multi-level environmental and financial decision matrix. The environmental criteria consisted of life-cycle emissions, tail-pipe emissions, water footprint (WFP), and power density, while the financial criteria comprised of vehicle cost, fuel price, fuel price stability, and fueling station availability. The overall analysis showed that conventional diesel is still the best option, followed by hydraulic-hybrid WCVs, landfill gas (LFG) sourced natural gas, fossil natural gas, and biodiesel. The elimination of the WFP and power density criteria from the environmental criteria ranked biodiesel 100 (BD100) as an environmentally better alternative compared to other fossil fuels (diesel and natural gas). This result showed that considering the WFP and power density as environmental criteria can make a difference in the decision process. The elimination of the fueling station and fuel price stability criteria from the decision matrix ranked fossil natural gas second after LFG-sourced natural gas. This scenario was found to represent the status quo of the waste collection industry. A sensitivity analysis for the status quo scenario showed the overall ranking of diesel and fossil natural gas to be more sensitive to changing fuel prices as compared to other alternatives.

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Accession: 058354997

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PMID: 26824270

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.12.154

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