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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Environmental assessment of on-site source-separated wastewater treatment and reuse systems for resource recovery in a sustainable sanitation view

Souza, Hugo Henrique de Simone; Lima, Priscila de Morais; Medeiros, Diego Lima; Vieira, Jessica; Filho, Fernando Jorge Correa Magalhaes; Paulo, Paula Loureiro; Fullana-i-Palmer, Pere; Boncz, Marc Arpad

Abstract

Sustainable sanitation solutions are necessary for promoting public health and environmental security. In this study, on-site domestic wastewater treatment (WWT) systems used for households in rural and peri-urban areas of Brazil were compared in different scenarios from a life cycle assessment (LCA) perspective. The evaluated scenarios repre-sented different practices in wastewater management, such as direct discharge into the soil, rudimentary treatment, septic tank, public sewerage system, and source separation of wastewater streams for water, nutrient, and organic mat-ter recovery. The WWT technologies considered in the proposed scenarios of source-separated wastewater streams were as follows: an evapotranspiration tank (TEvap) and composting toilet for blackwater, a modified constructed wetland (EvaTAC) for greywater, and a storage tank for urine. LCA was performed in this study according to the ISO standards to assess the environmental impacts at both midpoint and endpoint levels. The results show that on - site source-separated wastewater treatment systems with resource recovery result in significant reductions in environ-mental impacts compared to scenarios with precarious conditions or 'end-of-pipe' solutions. For example, regarding the human health damage category, the scenarios involving resource recovery, including systems such as EvaTAC, TEvap, composting toilet, and urine storage tank, demonstrate significantly lower values (-0.0117 to -0.0115 DALY) compared to scenarios with rudimentary cesspits and septic tanks (0.0003 to 0.001 DALY). We conclude that the focus should be beyond mere pollution aspects and instead concentrate on the benefits of the co-products, which are: avoiding the extraction and consumption of valuable and increasingly scarce raw materials, such as potable water, and production of synthetic fertilizer. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that an LCA of sanitation systems synergistically integrates the WWT process, the constructive aspects, and the resource recovery potential.

Keywords

Life cycle assessment (LCA); Resource-oriented sanitation; Water-energy-food (WEF) nexus; Decentralised sanitation; Resourceefficiency; Pollution prevention

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2023, Volume: 895, article number: 165122
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
    SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Water Treatment

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.165122

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/123589