Auteurs : U. Sonesson, A. Bjo¨rklund, M. Carlsson, M. Dalemo

The management system for solid and liquid organic waste affects the environment and  surrounding technical systems in several ways. In order to decrease the environmental impact and resource use, biological waste treatment and alternative solutions for sewage treatment are often advocated. These alternatives include increased agricultural use of waste residuals. To analyse whether such proposed systems indicate improvements for the environment and its sustainability, systems analysis is a useful method. The changes in environmental impact and resource use is not only a result of changes in waste treatment methods, but also largely a result of changes in surrounding systems (energy and agriculture) caused by changes in waste management practices. In order to perform a systems analysis, a substance-flow simulation model, the organic waste research model (ORWARE), has been used. The results are evaluated by using methodology from life cycle assessment (LCA). An economic analysis was also performed on three of the studied scenarios. The management system for solid organic waste and sewage in the municipality of Uppsala, Sweden, was studied. Three scenarios for different treatments of solid waste were analysed: incineration with heat recovery, composting, and anaerobic digestion. These three scenarios included conventional sewage treatment. A fourth scenario reviewed was anaerobic digestion of solid waste, using urine-separating toilets and separate handling of the urine fraction. The results are only valid for the case study and under the assumptions made. In this case study anaerobic digestion result in the lowest environmental impact of all the solid waste management systems, but is costly. Economically, incineration with heat recovery is the cheapest way to treat solid waste.
Composting gives environmental advantages compared to incineration methods, without significantly increased costs. Urine separation, which may be implemented together with any solid waste treatment, has great advantages, particularly in its low impact on the environment. However, there is a large increase in acidification.

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