An inventory of material and energy consumption during the construction and operation (C&O) of a typical sanitary landfill site in China was calculated based on Chinese industrial standards for landfill management and design reports. The environmental impacts of landfill C&O were evaluated through life cycle assessment (LCA). The amounts of materials and energy used during this type of undertaking in China are comparable to those in developed countries, except that the consumption of concrete and asphalt is significantly higher in China. A comparison of the normalized impact potential between landfill C&O and the total landfilling technology implies that the contribution of C&O to overall landfill emissions is not negligible. The non-toxic impacts induced by C&O can be attributed mainly to the consumption of diesel used for daily operation, while the toxic impacts are primarily due to the use of mineral materials. To test the influences of different landfill C&O approaches on environmental impacts, six baseline alternatives were assessed through sensitivity analysis. If geomembranes and geonets were utilized to replace daily and intermediate soil covers and gravel drainage systems, respectively, the environmental burdens of C&O could be mitigated by between 2% and 27%. During the LCA of landfill C&O, the research scope or system boundary has to be declared when referring to material consumption values taken from the literature; for example, the misapplication of data could lead to an underestimation of diesel consumption by 60–80%.
- Municipal solid waste landfill
- Life cycle assessment
- Liner system
- Intermediate cover
- Alternative materials