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An environmental assessment of the management of organic household waste (OHW) was performed from a life cycle perspective by means of the waste-life cycle assessment (LCA) model EASEWASTE. The focus was on home composting of OHW in Denmark and six different home composting units (with different input and different mixing frequencies) were modelled. In addition, incineration and landfilling was modelled as alternatives to home composting. The most important processes contributing to the environmental impact of home composting were identified as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (load) and the avoided emissions in relation to the substitution of fertiliser and peat when compost was used in hobby gardening (saving). The replacement of fertiliser and peat was also identified as one of the most sensible parameters, which could potentially have a significant environmental benefit. Many of the impact categories (especially human toxicity via water (HTw) and soil (HTs)) were affected by the heavy metal contents of the incoming OHW. The concentrations of heavy metals in the compost were below the threshold values for compost used on land and were thus not considered to constitute a problem. The GHG emissions were, on the other hand, dependent on the management of the composting units. The frequently mixed composting units had the highest GHG emissions. The environmental profiles of the home composting scenarios were in the order of −2 to 16 milli person equivalents (mPE) Mg−1 wet waste (ww) for the non-toxic categories and −0.9 to 28mPEMg−1 ww for the toxic categories. Home composting performed better than or as good as incineration and landfilling in several of the potential impact categories. One exception was the global warming (GW) category, in which incineration performed better due to the substitution of heat and electricity based on fossil fuels.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Publication date2012
Volume32
Issue1
Pages31-40
ISSN0956-053X
DOIs
StatePublished
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 7

Keywords

  • Life cycle assessment, Organic household waste, Home composting
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