Economic and environmental optimization of waste treatment
Journal article, 2015

This article presents the new systems engineering optimization model, OptiWaste, which incorporates a life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology and captures important characteristics of waste management systems. As part of the optimization, the model identifies the most attractive waste management options. The model renders it possible to apply different optimization objectives such as minimizing costs or greenhouse gas emissions or to prioritize several objectives given different weights. A simple illustrative case is analysed, covering alternative treatments of one tonne of residual household waste: incineration of the full amount or sorting out organic waste for biogas production for either combined heat and power generation or as fuel in vehicles. The case study illustrates that the optimal solution depends on the objective and assumptions regarding the background system - illustrated with different assumptions regarding displaced electricity production. The article shows that it is feasible to combine LCA methodology with optimization. Furthermore, it highlights the need for including the integrated waste and energy system into the model.

Organic household waste

Life cycle assessment

Waste treatment


Multiple objective optimization


Marie Münster

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Hans Ravn

Karsten Hedegaard

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Nina Juul

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Maria Ljunggren Söderman

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Waste Management

0956-053X (ISSN)

Vol. 38 1 486-495

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Materials Science

Subject Categories

Energy Systems

Environmental Sciences

Other Environmental Biotechnology



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