Increasing material and energy recovery from waste facilities: Human health and ecosystem quality implications

Federico Sisani, Amani Maalouf, Francesco Di Maria, Marzio Lasagni, Mutasem El-Fadel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    This study presents a preliminary assessment of the implications on human health and ecosystem quality arising from increased materials and energy recovery from waste. Two scenarios were assessed encompassing different methods of waste distribution and elements of an integrated waste management system (composting, anaerobic digestion coupled with bio-methane recovery, incineration, and landfilling). The base scenario involved processing about 100,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) per year and the modified scenario processed about 140,000 tonnes of MSW per year. The analysis was conducted following a life cycle approach using both midpoint and endpoint indicators. Based on a single tonne of waste processed, the results indicated lower (~ 66%) human toxicity with cancer and non-cancer effects (CTUh) and impact on human health (DALY) (~64% lower) for the modified scenario. Decrease in landfilling and increase in the recovery of the organic fraction from separated collection (OFSC) for biological treatment in the form of composting and anaerobic digestion in the modified scenario were the main drivers of these results. Considering savings in emissions from substituting the production of mineral fertilizers, the values of ecosystem quality (PDF*m2*year) indicated a lower impact (~86%) for the modified scenario.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)126-131
    Number of pages6
    Issue numberMarch
    StatePublished - Mar 2019


    • Ecosystem quality
    • Energy recovery
    • Human health
    • Life cycle assessment
    • Material recovery


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