The comparison of waste disposal options is much more than just a simple comparison of technologies. The questions to be answered not only focus on the choice of Facility Type A or B, rather much more complex concepts are discussed and compared regarding their impacts on the environment. The comparison of waste disposal options can mainly be based on two different viewpoints. For one, the given local perspective of the site, and the other perspective, regardless of location and on the higher level dimension.
In the case of concrete planning of waste disposal facilities an
EIA (environmental impact assessment) is generally conducted or at least a screening EIA is required. In both cases, a respective environmental impact examination and/or environmental impact screening is necessary beforehand, the final assessment is the duty of the authority issuing the permit.
The environmental impact examination investigates from the local perspective. This has the advantage of determining exactly which benefits and disadvantages a certain facility will have on its immediate surroundings. If the different options are compared in an environmental impact examination, statements based on the actual results can be made as to which option for waste disposal offers the least environmental impact.
View of a system, regardless of location
However, when only taking the concrete approach of an environmental impact assessment, overall aspects such as the substitution of resources through energy generation from waste incineration are not taken into consideration. Yet this aspect is relevant to conceptual decisions concerning waste management for determining the “more environmentally friendly” type of waste disposal in the sense of the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act (KrW-/AbfG). The more general system approach is suitable for such cases, as it uses the LCA method.
When planning a waste facility, both views are often requested by the client. This accommodates both the local situation and the general aspects (e.g. resource conservation, climate relevance, etc.).
The projects done regarding this subject at IFEU include a feasibility study for a mechanical-biological treatment plant (MBP) in Dortmund compared to the use of thermal capacities. The type of mechanical-biological facility was left open in the scenarios (including the type of recovery of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and its reutilisation) as well as quality and quantity of the residue from the MBP, and the comparative concepts for incineration (own facility, cooperation contracts). There were similar project definitions for dealing with biowaste from households in Berlin commissioned by the Berlin Municipal Sanitation Authority or for the projected residual waste treatment facility in the vicinity of Göttingen.