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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Environmental assessment of existing and alternative options for management of municipal solid waste in Brazil

Lima, Priscila De Morais; Colvero, Diogo Appel; Gomes, Ana Paula; Wenzel, Henrik; Schalch, Valdir; Cimpan, Ciprian


Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to evaluate and compare three different categories of management systems for municipal solid waste (MSW) in Brazil: (1) mixed waste direct disposal systems, (2) separate collection systems, based on wet-dry streams, and (3) mixed waste mechanical-biological systems, including materials recovery. System scenarios were built around main treatment techniques available and applicable in developing countries, and considered barriers as well as potential synergies between waste management and other industrial production. In the first category systems, we measured the impact magnitude of improper disposal sites (semi-controlled and controlled dumps) still used for approximately 40% of collected MSW, and found that sanitary landfills could decrease it 3-5 fold (e.g. GWP, from 1100-1200 to 250-450 kg CO2 eq. t(-1) waste). As an alternative, waste incineration did not show significant benefits over sanitary landfilling, due to limitations in energy utilization and the low-carbon background electricity system. Category two of systems, revealed recycling benefits and the necessity as well as potential risks of biological treatment for wet streams. Simple wet-dry collection could result in relatively high levels of contamination in compost outputs, which should be mitigated by intensive pre- and post-treatment. Potential impact of air emissions from biological degradation processes was important even after anaerobic digestion processes. Biogas upgrading and use as vehicle fuel resulted in bigger savings compared to direct electricity production. Lastly, category three, mechanical-biological systems, displayed savings in most environmental impact categories, associated with materials recovery for recycling and refuse-derived fuel (RDF) production and utilization in cement manufacturing. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Municipal Solid Waste (MSW); Life Cycle Assessment (LCA); Developing countries; Mechanical-biological systems; Material recycling

Published in

Waste Management
2018, volume: 78, pages: 857-870

Authors' information

University of Southern Denmark
University of Sao Paulo
Colvero, Diogo Appel
Universidade de Aveiro
Gomes, Ana Paula
Universidade de Aveiro
Wenzel, Henrik
University of Southern Denmark
Schalch, Valdir
Universidade de Sao Paulo
Cimpan, Ciprian
University of Southern Denmark

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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