Conference Dates

June 5-10, 2016


The main aim of this study was to perform a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as well as an economic evaluation of the recovery of recyclable materials in an urban waste management system. Urban waste is mainly composed of three fractions: 1) putrescible materials, 2) recyclables materials, and 3) residual waste. The putrescible materials have to be collected separately and sent to composting and/or anaerobic digestion plants. The recyclables materials have to be sorted and sent to the proper industrial facilities. Finally, the residual waste could be further selected to be sent to energy recovery plants. If citizens separate erroneously urban waste fractions, they produce both environmental and economic damages. In fact, on the base of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a municipality receives an economic amount for each kilogram of packaging waste collected. In Italy, this activity is managed by CONAI (a private system, created and designed by companies). The “CONAI system” is based on the activities of six consortia each dedicated to promoting and control the most used materials in the packaging production i.e. steel, aluminum, paper, wood, plastics and glass. Packaging waste that goes into the dry residue represents an economic damage (a loss of the “CONAI contribution” and the payment of the disposal fees) as well as an environmental burden.

The environmental and economic evaluation was performed for the case study of Nola (39.19 km², 34.349 inhabitants, and 876.47 ab./km²) in the Province on Naples, in the Campania Region of Southern Italy. Nola has a kerbside system which assured a percentage of separate collection of 61% in 2015.

The LCA analysis included the treatment and disposal phases as well as the collection and transport phases. The LCA software tool SimaPro and the following three impact assessment methods were used: ReCiPe 2008 (for the medium-term perspective Hierarchist both for midpoint and endpoint levels), Ecological footprint, and IPCC 2013 (100 years). The environmental (Figure 1a) and economic (Figure 1b) analysis were developed for several real and hypothetical scenarios based on increasing percentages of separate collection and different composition analyses of the residual waste (RW). The obtained results confirmed that recovering materials from residual waste is a benefits both in environmental and economic terms. Finally, it is also a social potential benefit because the municipality could invest the economic saving in environmental campaigns entrusted to young people in an area with a high rate of youth unemployment.

Please click Additional Files below to see the full abstract.

Included in

Engineering Commons