Environmental assessment of waste management in Greenland: current practice and potential future developments

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Abstract

The majority of the waste in Greenland is disposed of in open dumps or incinerated in simple small-scale incinerators. There are relatively few environmental regulations that control the emissions of leachate, landfill gas and/or flue gases from incineration. Only some scrap metal and hazardous waste are collected separately and exported to Europe. The impacts from the current waste management system were modelled from a life-cycle perspective using the LCA-waste model EASEWASTE. Impacts with regard to global warming, acidification, etc. are small (a few hundred person-equivalents (PE) for a system serving 56 000 inhabitants), but significant environmental loads are caused by air emissions from the incinerators and leachate from the landfills. Several alternative management scenarios were modelled and results show that increased use of incineration, full utilization of the heat production for district heating and separation of hazardous waste probably could improve Greenland’s waste management system. Segregation of recyclable materials as paper, cardboard and biowaste will do little to environmentally improve the waste management system due to loss of energy recovery from incineration and the long transport of the recyclables to markets. Export of waste to Denmark for incineration at modern waste incinerators with advanced flue gas cleaning could also be considered as a means to achieve better environmental performance of the waste management system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management & Research
Volume31
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)502-509
ISSN0734-242x
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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