3 years ago

Recycle, Bury, or Burn Wood Waste Biomass?: LCA Answer Depends on Carbon Accounting, Emissions Controls, Displaced Fuels, and Impact Costs

Jeffrey Morris
This study extends existing life cycle assessment (LCA) literature by assessing seven environmental burdens and an overall monetized environmental score for eight recycle, bury, or burn options to manage clean wood wastes generated at construction and demolition activity sites. The study assesses direct environmental impacts along with substitution effects from displacing fossil fuels and managed forest wood sourcing activities. Follow-on effects on forest carbon stocks, land use, and fuel markets are not assessed. Sensitivity analysis addresses landfill carbon storage and biodegradation rates, atmospheric emissions controls, displaced fuel types, and two alternative carbon accounting methods commonly used for waste management LCAs. Base-case carbon accounting considers emissions and uptakes of all biogenic and fossil carbon compounds, including biogenic carbon dioxide. Base-case results show that recycling options (recycling into reconstituted wood products or into wood pulp for papermaking) rank better than all burning or burying options for overall monetized score as well as for climate impacts, except that wood substitution for coal in industrial boilers is slightly better than recycling for the climate. Wood substitution for natural gas boiler fuel has the highest environmental impacts. Sensitivity analysis shows the overall monetized score rankings for recycling options to be robust except for the carbon accounting method, for which all options are highly sensitive. Under one of the alternative methods, wood substitution for coal boiler fuel and landfill options with high methane capture efficiency are the best for the overall score; recycling options are next to the worst. Under the other accounting alternative, wood substitution for coal and waste-to-energy are the best, followed by recycling options.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12469

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