A paper by researchers involved into REPAIR project entitled “Sustainability assessment of waste and resource systems: Advances and recent applications” will be presented at the conference “WasteLCA_3: Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment For Waste Management And Resource Optimization”, which is organised by Engineering Conferences International (ECI) in Grand Hotel San Michele in Calabria (Italy), between June 21-26, 2020.

The conference focuses on methodologies and tools, such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA), which allow a fair and reliable comparison between the performances of different waste and residual resource management solutions. Methodological developments related to these approaches will be taken into account together with important case studies.

More information on ECI and the conference here.


Sustainability assessment of waste and resource systems: Advances and recent applications

Davide Tonini (JRC), Alex Wandl (TUD), Jo Dewulf (UGENT), Sue Ellen Taelman (UGENT), David Sanjuan-Delmas (UGENT), Hans Saveyn (JRC), Dries Huygens (JRC)

While promoting the shift towards circular economy it is essential to ensure the protection of the environment, human health, but also of the social and economic pillars of our society. That is, we should as much as possible document quantitatively that innovative and/or circular economy solutions perform equally or better than the linear alternative, under well-defined conditions. To this purpose, tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle costing (LCC), and social life cycle assessment (SLCA) are often used to inform decision-making processes. More recently, ambitious holistic sustainability frameworks attempting to integrate the three pillars (i.e. environmental, economic, and social) have also been proposed and, in a few cases, tested on specific case studies. Notably, this has been the case in two recent European project namely PROSUIT and REPAiR (FP7 and H2020 programs). These life cycle thinking-based frameworks strive to provide a holistic assessment of waste and resource systems with the aim to capture the trade-offs (burdens and savings, i.e. impacts) incurred in the different environmental, economic and social compartments and ultimately provide decision-makers with scientific evidence on the system performance. By highlighting the hotspots, such evidence may be then the leverage for further system optimisation, changes, and/or related policy depending upon the scope and goals of the analysis. Sustainability frameworks, in different forms, may also be applied to assess the sustainability of waste and resource management systems. To this respect, we hereby illustrate two key-examples of how sustainability frameworks based on life cycle thinking approaches can be used to underlie opportunities and societal impacts of circular economy solutions. We focus on the case of: i) advanced phosphorous recovery from agricultural wastes in the Netherlands where a societal life cycle costing method is applied, and of ii) household’s food waste management in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA; The Netherlands) where a novel sustainability framework developed within the H2020 Repair project is instead applied. The case of phosphorous demonstrates the societal effectiveness of advanced phosphorus recovery in high animal-and-human-density regions, here represented by the Netherlands, while the example of household food waste management in Amsterdam underlies how separate food waste collection and treatment schemes are environmentally and socially beneficial only if specific end-treatment technologies are concurrently implemented. Particularly, in the specific case of the AMA home and centralised composting were neither economically nor environmentally favourable under the Netherlands-specific conditions for energy and agricultural soil systems.