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A Common Framework for Assessing Life Cycle Impacts of Food Waste Prevention, Valorisation & Treatment

The European Waste Framework Directive 2008/98 EC mandates that member states should take measures to encourage waste prevention and management options which deliver the best overall environmental outcome from a life cycle perspective, even if these differ from the waste hierarchy. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a well-established tool to compare and evaluate such environmental life cycle impacts of food (waste) systems. However, as a tool, LCA leaves a lot of freedom to the assessor to determine key aspects. Notable aspects can be found mainly as part of the goals and scope definition, such as the functional unit, the system boundaries or the handling of multiple outputs. This influences the outcome of the assessments.

A literature review showed that there is a gap between existing guidance on performing life cycle assessments (LCAs) and methodology actually applied in food waste related LCA case studies. In order to bridge this gap a common framework will be developed as part of the REFRESH project. The piece of work presented in this paper focuses on defining REFRESH Situations; these are clearly described circumstances that should help the LCA assessor of food waste related studies to identify more easily what type of situation he assesses. There are four REFRESH Situations: prevention at source, co-product valorisation, valorisation as part of waste management and end of life treatment. They have in common that they can take place at any point/process in the life cycle, take place within the remit of any stakeholder and should accommodate all final destinations.

Using these REFRESH situations as part of a wider methodological framework will support assessors to examine the system under investigation in more detail and will help making decision making more transparent.



Copyright: © Lehrstuhl für Abfallverwertungstechnik und Abfallwirtschaft der Montanuniversität Leoben
Source: Recy & Depotech 2016 (November 2016)
Pages: 4
Price: € 2,00
Autor: Dr. Nicole Unger
Jennifer Davis
Karin Östergren
Marion Loubiere

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