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Research article2017Peer reviewed

Carbon footprint of urban source separation for nutrient recovery

Kjerstadius, H.; Saraiva, A. Bernstad; Spangberg, J.; Davidsson, A.


Source separation systems for the management of domestic wastewater and food waste has been suggested as more sustainable sanitation systems for urban areas. The present study used an attributional life cycle assessment to investigate the carbon footprint and potential for nutrient recovery of two sanitation systems for a hypothetical urban area in Southern Sweden. The systems represented a typical Swedish conventional system and a possible source separation system with increased nutrient recovery. The assessment included the management chain from household collection, transport, treatment and final return of nutrients to agriculture or disposal of the residuals. The results for carbon footprint and nutrient recovery (phosphorus and nitrogen) concluded that the source separation system could increase nutrient recovery (0.30-0.38 kg P capita(-1) year(-1) and 3.10-3.28 kg N capita(-1) year(-1) while decreasing the carbon footprint (-24 to -58 kg CO2-eq. capita(-1) year(-1)), compared to the conventional system. The nutrient recovery was increased by the use of struvite precipitation and ammonium stripping at the wastewater treatment plant. The carbon footprint decreased, mainly due to the increased biogas production, increased replacement of mineral fertilizer in agriculture and less emissions of nitrous oxide from wastewater treatment. In conclusion, the study showed that source separation systems could potentially be used to increase nutrient recovery from urban areas, while decreasing the climate impact. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Source separation; Life cycle assessment; Nutrient recovery; Wastewater management; Food waste; Carbon footprint

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2017, Volume: 197, pages: 250-257

    Associated SLU-program

    Food Waste

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG2 Zero hunger
    SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
    SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier


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