Environmental impacts and resource losses of incinerating misplaced household special wastes (WEEE, batteries, ink cartridges and cables)

Marianne Kristine Kjærgaard Bigum, Anders Damgaard, Charlotte Scheutz, Thomas Højlund Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The contribution of misplaced special waste (sWEEE, lamps, CRT, batteries, ink cartridges and cables) to environmental impacts from incineration of residual household waste was quantified through life cycle assessment (LCA)-modelling. Misplaced special waste was quantified to constitute less than 1% of the net impact for most environmental impact categories, except for the toxic impact categories (4–28% of toxic impacts) and the impact on abiotic resource depletion. It was found that the main contributor (96%) to the toxic impact categories was related to the presence of mercury (Hg) from lamps and batteries. However as shown by sensitivity analysis, lack of good data on the transfer of rare and hazardous metals to the flue gas in the incineration process should receive further investigation before the environmental impacts from misplaced incinerated special waste can fully be concluded upon. Although the misplaced special waste is only 0.5% of residual household waste, it constitutes in the residual household waste the most significant fraction with respect to metal content when iron and aluminum are excluded. By extending the boundary of the LCA beyond the traditional “zero burden boundary”, we were able to quantify the impact of abiotic resources not recovered from incineration residues. This appeared to be a significant impact category, and the special waste contributed about 96% of this category although it by weight makes up only 0.5% of the waste. Furthermore, enhancing the recovery of iron (Fe) and aluminum (Al) from the ashes would not affect the loss of abiotic resources significantly. Only by recovering elements as platinum (Pt), copper (Cu), gold (Au), and silver (Ag) would it be possible to reduce the loss of abiotic resources from the system. These elements are primarily found in misplaced special waste (sWEEE, lamps, CRT, batteries, ink cartridges, and cables).
Original languageEnglish
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume122
Pages (from-to)251-260
Number of pages10
ISSN0921-3449
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Batteriers ink cartridges
  • Cables
  • CRT
  • Incineration
  • Lamps
  • Resource depletion
  • sWEEE

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