Assessing the environmental burdens of anaerobic digestion in comparison to alternative options for managing the biodegradable fraction of municipal solid wastes

Haight, M.
July 2005
Water Science & Technology;2005, Vol. 52 Issue 1/2, p553
Biological treatment processes including anaerobic digestion (biogasification) and composting are increasingly being considered by waste management officials and planners as alternatives for managing the mainly organic residues of municipal solid wastes (MSW). The integrated waste management model which is based upon the application of life-cycle analysis was employed to compare the environmental burdens of landfilling, composting and anaerobic digestion of MSW at a mid-sized Canadian community. Energy consumption (or recovery), residue recoveries and emissions to air and water were quantified. Scenario comparisons were analyzed to demonstrate that the environmental burdens associated with anaerobic digestion are reduced in comparison with the alternative options. The major benefit occurs as a result of the electricity produced from burning the biogas and then supplying the 'green power' to the local electrical grid.


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