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To date, landfilling remains the most common waste management practice in Greece in spite of enforced regulations aiming at increasing recycling, pre-selection of waste and energy and material recovery. In this study, selected alternative scenarios aiming at minimizing the unused material fraction to be disposed of in landfills are analyzed, using the life cycle assessment methodology. The methodology was applied in the case of municipal solid waste (MSW) management in Athens and Thessaloniki, with a special focus on energy and material balance, including potential global and local scale airborne emissions. Results are given in the form of indices efficiency, effectiveness, environmental and public health impacts. Material flow accounting, gross energy requirement, emergy intensity, emission and release intensity and morbidity or mortality indicators have been used to support the comparative assessment. However, not all options are equally benign to the local environment and to the health of the local population, since both the former and the latter are still affected by non-negligible local emissions. With regard to public health impacts, adverse effects on respiratory health, congenital malformations, low birth weight and cancer incidence were estimated. A significant and not intuitive result is the fact that life cycle analysis produces different conclusions than a simple environmental impact assessment based only on estimated or measured emissions. Taking into account the overall life cycle of both the waste streams and of the technological systems and facilities envisaged alters the relative attractiveness of the solutions considered. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.


D A Sarigiannis, E J Handakas, S P Karakitsios, A Gotti. Life cycle assessment of municipal waste management options. Environmental research. 2021 Feb;193:110307

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PMID: 33065069

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