LCA of Wastewater Treatment

Henrik Fred Larsen, Michael Zwicky Hauschild (Editor), Ralph K. Rosenbaum (Editor), Stig Irving Olsen (Editor)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterEducationpeer-review


    The main purpose of wastewater treatment is to protect humans against waterborne diseases and to safeguard aquatic bio-resources like fish. The dominating environmental concerns within this domain are indeed still potential aquatic eutrophication/oxygen depletion due to nutrient/organic matter emissions and potential health impacts due to spreading of pathogens. Anyway, the use of treatment for micro-pollutants is increasing and a paradigm shift is ongoing — wastewater is more and more considered as a resource of, e.g. energy, nutrients and even polymers, in the innovations going on. The focus of LCA studies addressing wastewater treatment have from the very first published cases, been on energy and resource consumption. In recent time, the use of characterisation has increased and besides global warming potential, especially eutrophication is in focus. Even the toxicity-related impact categories are nowadays included more often. Application of LCA for comparing avoided against induced impacts, and hereby identifying trade-offs when introducing new technology, is increasingly used. A typical functional unit is the treatment of one cubic metre of wastewater which should be well defined regarding composition. Depending on the goal and scope of the study, all life cycle stages have the potential of being significant, though disposal of infrastructure seems to be the least important for the impact profile in many cases. No inventory data and none of the conventional impact categories (except stratospheric ozone depletion if emission of N2O is excluded) should be ruled out; but eutrophication and ecotoxicity are in many cases among the dominating ones.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLife Cycle Assessment: Theory and Practice
    Publication date2018
    ISBN (Print)978-3-319-56474-6
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-56475-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Cite this

    Larsen, H. F., Hauschild, M. Z. (Ed.), Rosenbaum, R. K. (Ed.), & Olsen, S. I. (Ed.) (2018). LCA of Wastewater Treatment. In Life Cycle Assessment: Theory and Practice (1 ed., pp. 861-886). Springer.