Tackling industrial waste Cement kilns versus Incinerators - An environmental comparison

5. How are environmental impacts compared?

5.1 What steps are considered in this Life Cycle Assessment?

The waste treatment options were evaluated by means of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a method that compares the environmental performance of products or services, to enable an informed choice. The term 'life cycle' refers to the notion that a fair assessment must consider all steps from cradle to grave: raw material production, processing, use and disposal, and transportation.

The present Life Cycle Assessment compares two ways of treating industrial waste*: either in the Belgian cement clinker production where the wastes are used as fuel, or in specialised waste incinerators.

The assessment considers the following steps:

For each of these steps the study takes into account possible emissions to air, water, or soil and the use of natural resources.

Moreover, when energy is produced by the burning of waste this avoids the use of other sources of energy which would have led to their own range of impacts on the environment. More...


5.2 What environmental impacts categories are we concerned about?

Emissions and resource use are then translated into a series of environmental impacts, in accordance with the CML assessment method.

The ten environmental impact categories considered are the following:

Each emission to the environment, once quantified, is assigned to the suitable categories. For instance, CO2 emissions measured in kg CO2 equivalents are assigned to the global warming impact category. NOx emissions are assigned to the human toxicity, photochemical oxidation, acidification, and eutrophication impact categories. More...

The Three-Level Structure used to communicate this Life Cycle Assessment is copyrighted by GreenFacts asbl/vzw