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[GreenYes] Re: Apples to Apples


There is actually a peer-reviewed article that appeared in Waste
Management & Research that may be of use to this discussion. The
citation along with abstract appears below.

Diggelman, C., Ham, R.K., 2003. Household food waste to wastewater or to
solid waste? That is the question. Waste Management & Research 21(6):

Decision makers need sound analyses of economic and environmental
impacts of options for managing household food waste. Food waste
impacts public health (it rots, smells, and attracts rodents) and costs
(it drives collectionfrequency). A life cycle inventory is used to
quantify total materials, energy, costs and environmental flows for
three municipal solid waste systems (collection followed by compost,
waste-to-energy or landfill) and two wastewater systems (kitchen food
waste disposer followed by rural on-site or municipal wastewater
treatment) for food waste management. Inventory parameters are
expressed per 100 kg of food waste (wet weight) to place data on a
normalised basis for comparison. System boundaries include acquisition,
use and decommissioning. Parameters include inputs (land, materials,
water) and output emissions to air, water and land. Parameters are
ranked simply from high to low. Ranking highest overall was the rural
wastewater system, which has a high amount of food waste and carrier
water relative to the total throughput over its design life.
Waste-to-energy was second; burning food waste yields little exportable
energy and is costly. Next, municipal wastewater tied with landfill.
Municipal wastewater is low for land, material, energy and cost, but is
highest for food waste by-product (sludge). Landfill ranks low for air
emissions and cost. Compost ranks lowest; it has the lowest material
and water inputs and generates the least wastewater and waterborne waste.

Best Regards,

Reindl, John wrote:

> The DST analysis includes a long list of emissions, and, of course, a
> variety of assumptions. We are going to have the analysis re-done to
> correct some of the assumptions, but, perhaps more importantly, we are
> also assessing the relative impacts of the various types of emissions.
> For example, we will assign values for the relative harm of VOCs
> compared to methane comprared to CO2 compared to NOx compared to SOx
> compared to mercury, etc, etc. While it is not really possible to do
> an "apples to apples" comparsion for the various types of emissions,
> an environemental valuation approach will estimate harmfulness in
> common units. Jeff Morris has done similar studies and I encourage
> folks to go to his web page ( and
> look at his reports under "Subscriber Access", which is available at
> no cost.
> The PhD thesis that I spoke about is:
> Author: Diggelman, Carol.
> <,+Carol.>
> Title: Life-cycle comparison of five engineered systems for
> managing food waste / by Carol Diggelman
> Publisher: c1998.
> Description: 2v, [xxx, 571 leaves] : ill. ; 29 cm.
> Internet Links:
> <>
> Notes: Typescript.
> Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Wisconsin--Madison, 1998.
> Includes bibliographical references (leaves 552-571)
> Also available on the Internet.
> OCLC: (OCoLC)40277820
> Subjects: Dissertations, Academic Civil and Environmental
> Engineering.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Location <>:
> Memorial Library UW Madison Theses Basement North
> Catalog: UW Madison
> Call Number <>:
> AWB D5727 C376
> Ms Diggleman is currently on the faculty at the Milwaukee School of
> Engineering and continues her work in this area.
> John
> -----Original Message-----
> *From:* Alan Muller [mailto:amuller@no.address]
> *Sent:* Friday, August 11, 2006 4:52 PM
> *To:* Matthew Cotton; 'GreenYes'; Reindl, John
> *Subject:* Re: [GreenYes] Apples to Apples
> At 02:09 PM 8/11/2006 -0700, Matthew Cotton wrote:
>> John -
>>> The DST also looks at the VOCs from landfills, and concludes
>>> that they are much lower than from composting sites. I don't
>>> know why -- which was the basis for my question; I would like
>>> hard data, rather than 'gut instincts'.
>> I think the discrepancy is that organic materials are decomposed
>> _aerobically_ at a composting facility, and _anaerobically_ at a
>> landfill (that's pretty much a fact, not gut instinct).
>> Comparing a composting facility to a landfill on strictly one
>> parameter (like VOC emissions) is not reasonable or particularly
>> useful. Yes, the VOC emissions will be lower at a landfill,
>> especially non-methane emissions, in the same way that a landfill
>> generates (and releases) a lot more methane than a composting
>> facility.
> Air quality managers concerned with ozone attainment will tend to
> pay a lot of attention to "VOCs" as a category. But it is a broad
> category and we need to consider what they actually are and their
> harmfulness.....
> Do the comparative numbers include assumptions regarding gas
> recovery from landfills?
> The biochemistry going on in composting does produce some NOx.
> See, for example:
> I think it is only realistic to recognize that there are
> significant air emissions associated with composting. In most
> cases these, put in perspective, will be the lesser evil. But
> there likely will be places where open-air composting is not ideal.
> I look forward to learning more about this.
> Alan
> Alan Muller, Executive Director
> Green Delaware
> Box 69
> Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
> (302)834-3466
> fax (302)836-3005
> greendel@no.address
> <>
> >

Stephan Pollard, Ph.D.-Environmental Dynamics
555 W. Maple St., Apt. C
Fayetteville, AR 72701

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