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Application of Life Cycle Assessment and Thinking to waste management

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The Joint Research Committee (JRC)1, together with the European Commission’s Directorate General for the Environment, has developed the following series of guidance documents on how to apply Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCAi) to the waste management sector in a coherent and quality-assured manner.

  1. Supporting environmentally sound decisions for waste management – A technical guide to LCT and LCA for waste experts and LCA practitioners
  2. Supporting environmentally sound decisions for bio-waste management - A practical guide to LCT and LCA
  3. Supporting environmentally sound decisions for Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste management - A practical guide to LCT and LCA.

According to the guidelines, the waste hierarchy should always be applied, as a general rule. Nevertheless, LCT can also be used to complement the waste hierarchy and to ensure that the best overall environmental option is identified.

CEMBUREAU welcomes the fact that the LCA guidance (Supporting environmentally sound decisions for waste management) is illustrated with co-processing in a cement kiln. As highlighted by the guidance, one major advantage of the energy recovery from waste in a cement kiln is the simultaneous recovery of energy and minerals. In addition, it notes that the use of waste in cement has no negative impact on the environmental quality of the product, and thus cement can continue to be used without restrictions for concrete and mortar production. In addition, the recyclability of these materials remains unaffected. CEMBUREAU would welcome recovery being ranked in parallel to recycling/re-use, in view of its relevance as highlighted by the guidance document.

More information: Guidance documents


1 The European Union's scientific and technical research laboratory and an integral part of the European Commission.