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Comparing Co-processing with other waste treatment alternatives

Jun 10, 2011

Holcim supported the development of an LCA tool at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) for improved waste management desicion making.

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) takes into account the ecological impact along the whole value chain of a product or service from production to disposal. It quantifies the environmental impact according to several Life Cycle Impact Assessment methods (LCIA) and breaks down the magnitude of environmental impacts into various sub-steps of the considered process. Life Cycle Assessment is an internationally accepted methodology within the ISO system (ISO 14040:2006).

Holcim supported the development of an LCA tool at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in conjunction with other NGO’s, governmental organizations, a consultant agency and the association of waste incinerators in Switzerland.

The result of this effort is a customizable Microsoft Excel tool named “LCA4Waste”. The LCA4Waste tool currently consists of three modules, the first of which, Co-processing, can be used as a stand-alone module to compare the usage of alternative fuels and raw materials in different clinker production scenarios. It can also be used in combination with two other waste treatment modules:  landfill, and incineration, to compare waste treatment among and between these different alternatives. All the modules draw on expert data accumulated from the different relevant industries. 

The LCA4Waste tool has various application fields for Holcim both internally and externally:

  • It helps to understand and evaluate the ecological benefit of co-processing

  • It quantifies the environmental impacts of different waste treatment options

  • It supports transparent communication with the authorities and communities

  • It ensures compliance with internal policies

  • It is flexible, quick and user friendly and will soon be implemented online

Several case studies have been conducted in different countries. The aim of the case studies can differ depending on their application. The focus can be on the assessment of the environmental impacts of a specific waste, comparing different treatment options. It can as well concentrate on the evaluation of the current co-processing program at a cement plant. In this case, the LCA study would compare the current use of alternative fuels with a scenario where only traditional fuels would be used. All scenarios can be defined according to the interest of the cement plant, local authorities or customers; the tool can be customized according the specific local situation. Holcim trains the LCA performers on LCA methodology and on the use of the LCA4Waste tool. The LCA performers have as well skills about the clinker production and the waste treatment options. More information can be provided by the Sustainable Development - Alternative Resources department at Holcim Group Support Ltd. (bruno.fux@holcim.com, amelie.orthlieb@holcim.com).

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