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Title: Evaluating the life cycle climate impacts of solid waste management
Author: Turner, David
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis comprises three papers that address the evaluation of potential climate impacts of solid waste management (SWM) systems and processes from a life cycle perspective for purpose of decision-support. Paper I presents a critical review of the carbon footprint quantification and communication practice of large UK-based waste management companies. Results indicated a lack of methodological consistency and transparency in current practice, emphasising the need for a robust, transparent, and standardised approach to corporate carbon footprint quantification and reporting. Paper I also describes the importance of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factors (EF) in helping stakeholders better understand and address the potential climate impacts of their SWM activities. However, existing EFs were reviewed in Paper II and were found to lack transparency and breadth. Consequently, Paper II presents an original and fully transparent series of GHG EFs for the recycling of a wide range of source-segregated materials . Results showed that materials recycling generally leads to (often substantial) climate benefits, due to avoided primary material production. However, results also highlighted the dearth of available high quality materials recycling life cycle inventory data, which are essential to support effective SWM decision-making. Paper III presents a novel, practical framework for evaluating the potential climate impacts of complex SWM systems through the innovative use of publically-available waste flow data and a combined material flow analysis (MFA) and LCA approach. The performance of a complete, meso-level SWM system was evaluated and the potential effectiveness of real world waste policies was analysed. Results showed that landfilling was the greatest source of potential impacts for the existing system, whilst the increased diversion of food waste from landfill lead to the greatest reduction in potential impacts. Overall, this thesis presents an original, practical analytical framework and valuable information to support decision makers at multiple levels in evaluating the potential life cycle climate impacts of their SWM activities.
Supervisor: Williams, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available