Environmental Assessment of Possible Future Waste Management Scenarios
Journal article, 2017
Waste management has developed in many countries and will continue to do so. Changes towards increased recovery of resources in order to meet climate targets and for society to transition to a circular economy are important driving forces. Scenarios are important tools for planning and assessing possible future developments and policies. This paper presents a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) model for environmental assessments of scenarios and waste management policy instruments. It is unique by including almost all waste flows in a country and also allow for including waste prevention. The results show that the environmental impacts from future waste management scenarios in Sweden can differ a lot. Waste management will continue to contribute with environmental benefits, but less so in the more sustainable future scenarios, since the surrounding energy and transportation systems will be less polluting and also because less waste will be produced. Valuation results indicate that climate change, human toxicity and resource depletion are the most important environmental impact categories for the Swedish waste management system. Emissions of fossil CO2 from waste incineration will continue to be a major source of environmental impacts in these scenarios. The model is used for analyzing environmental impacts of several policy instruments including weight based collection fee, incineration tax, a resource tax and inclusion of waste in a green electricity certification system. The effect of the studied policy instruments in isolation are in most cases limited, suggesting that stronger policy instruments as well as combinations are necessary to reach policy goals as set out in for example the EU action plan on circular economy.
waste policy assessment
life cycle assessment (LCA)