Identification and Selection of Alternative Scenarios in LCA Studies of Integrated Waste Management Systems: A Review of Main Issues and Perspectives
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a decision support tool that can be used to assess the environmental performance of an integrated waste management system or to identify the system with the best performance through a comparative analysis of different scenarios. The results of the analysis depend primarily on how the scenarios to be compared are defined, that is on which waste fractions are assumed to be sent to certain treatments/destinations and in what amounts. This paper reviews LCAs of integrated waste management systems with the aim of exploring how the scenarios to be compared are defined in the preliminary phase of an LCA. This critical review highlighted that various criteria, more or less subjective, are generally used for the definition of scenarios. Furthermore, the number of scenarios identified and compared is generally limited; this may entail that only the best option among a limited set of possibilities can be selected, instead of identifying the best of all possible combinations. As a result, the advisability of identifying an integrated life cycle-based methodological approach that allows finding the most environmentally sound scenario among all of those that are theoretically possible is stressed.
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