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10.08.2018 | LCA OF WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS | Ausgabe 2/2019

The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 2/2019

Life cycle assessment of passively aerated composting in gas-permeable bags of olive mill waste

Zeitschrift:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment > Ausgabe 2/2019
Autoren:
Francesco Castellani, Alessandro Esposito, Jutta Geldermann, Roberto Altieri
Wichtige Hinweise
Responsible editor: Shabbir Gheewala

Abstract

Purpose

In Italy, composting olive mill waste has become a common practice, since it mitigates the environmental problems associated with spreading the waste on land. Compost can be used to prepare growth media for plant nursery cultivation as a substitute for peat, a non-renewable resource whose extraction has long raised environmental concerns. Here, we investigate two common composting procedures—open windrow and static-pile in gas-permeable bags—and compare them to evaluate their environmental impact.

Methods

We perform a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) in accordance with ISO 14040 and 14044. The LCA considers carbon storage in the soil after 100 years, fugitive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the impacts avoided by substituting for peat. We use cumulative energy demand, global warming potential (GWP), acidification potential, and eutrophication potential indicators in a contribution analysis and explore how the re-use of olive pits for energy production and reduction of commercial fertilizers improves the environmental balance. We also present a scenario analysis that indicates how parameter fluctuations affect the results.

Results and discussion

Our study shows that peat’s impacts can be significantly reduced from 1162.3 to 96.3 kg CO2-eq/Mg for open windrow compost or 43.1 kg CO2-eq/Mg for static-pile compost in gas-permeable bags. For static-pile composting, the lack of volatile organic compound and ammonia emissions and the detection of oxygen concentrations above 12% vol. suggest fully aerobic conditions. Fugitive greenhouse gas emissions were the most important contributions to the GWP. In the contribution analysis for static-pile composting, the avoidance of compost spreading and the carbon storage effect (due to compost usage) contributed 54% of the overall impacts to GWP and between 21 and 45% to the other indicators.

Conclusions

This LCA study illustrates how horticulturists can improve their resource management practices by recycling olive mill waste materials. Proper management of composting unit aeration can reduce fugitive GHG emissions.

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