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Application of Life Cycle Assessment to Waste Management Christina Seidel Executive Director. What is Life-Cycle Assessment?. LCA: Quantify total burdens of a product or project including everything from: -upstream effects of sourcing materials, to

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What is life cycle assessment
What is Life-Cycle Assessment?

LCA: Quantify total burdens of a product

or project including everything from:

-upstream effects of sourcing materials,


-downstream effects of disposal after the

project or product is finished.


Credit: Dr. David Checkel

What is Life-Cycle Assessment?



Core Activity

S Emissions_

Functional Unit

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

Life cycle assessment for sustainable design
Life Cycle Assessment for Sustainable Design

  • Supportable, reliable decisions must be made between alternative projects or designs based on Real Environmental Consequences

  • Life Cycle Assessment now provides a broadly accepted framework for complex decisions involving direct and indirect (societal) costs.

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

The common link life cycle thinking
The Common Link:Life-Cycle Thinking

  • Product / project evaluation including upstream and downstream burdens and/or costs associated with your project / product even if they are paid elsewhere.

  • Using Life Cycle Thinking to improve design and/or make a better decision between options.

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

History of lca 1
History of LCA (1)

  • 1969: Coca-Cola commissioned the first “REPA”

    • (Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis)

  • What’s the best pop container?

    • A re-usable glass bottle or a recyclable steel can?

(Note that both alternatives are long obsolete)

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

History of lca 2
History of LCA (2)

  • Following the Coca-Cola study:

    • REPA studies focus on solid waste and recycling

    • Mobil Chemicals, (plastics manufacturer), compared plastic meat trays vs. pulp trays




History of lca 3
History of LCA (3)

1975 - 88: Corporate Focus on product improvement

  • Companies applied REPA for product design.

  • 1970's energy crisis spurred interest in “full fuel cycle analysis”.

    • What is the actual environmental cost to switch

      10 million cars from petroleum gasoline to natural gas ?

      • Or to battery electric ?

      • Or to synthetic fuel?

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

History of lca 4
History of LCA (4)

  • 1990 : LCA is Born

    • Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) : “Life-Cycle Assessment” (LCA)

    • Emphasis on life cycle thinking for new chemicals … Resources, Manufacture, Deployment, Use, Disposal, Fate

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

History of lca 5
History of LCA (5)

  • Complexity of LCA work and data scarcity led to a desire for standards.

  • 1994: Canadians were involved early, leading to …

    • CSA Z760-94 Life Cycle Assessment

    • CSA PLUS 1107 User's Guide to Life Cycle Assessment: Conceptual LCA in Practice

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

History of lca 6
History of LCA (6)

  • ISO added LCA to their series of environmental standards …

  • 1997 ISO 14040: LCA - Principles and framework

    • 11 pages with two references

  • 1998 ISO 14041: LCA - Goal & Scope Def. and Inventory Analysis

  • 2000 ISO 14042: LCA - Life Cycle Impact Assessment

  • 2000 ISO 14043: LCA - Life Cycle Interpretation

  • 2000 ISO 14049: LCA - Examples of Application

Credit: Dr. David Checkel

What is waste and how should we manage it
What is Waste?And How Should We Manage it?

What is waste
What is Waste?

  • Represents system failure/ inefficiency

  • Design to eliminate waste

  • Zero Waste movement

Zero waste definition
Zero Waste Definition

  • Zero Waste is a goal that is both pragmatic and visionary, to guide people to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are resources for others to use.  Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.  Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that may be a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health."

Zero Waste International Alliance

Cradle to cradle
Cradle to Cradle

  • Biological nutrients

    • Organics

    • Designed to return safely to the environment

  • Technological nutrients

    • Closed loop recycling

Sources of waste materials generated in alberta
Sources of Waste Materials generated in Alberta

Source: Stats Canada

Composition of residential waste
Composition of Residential Waste

  • Meat & fish waste

  • Diapers

  • HHW

  • Textiles

  • Dust

~ 50 % of paper is newsprint

Source: Action on Waste, % composition by weight

Ici waste composition
ICI Waste Composition

  • HHW

  • Misc. Organics

  • Yard Waste

Source: Action on Waste, % composition by weight

C d waste composition
C&D Waste Composition

Source: CRD Waste Characterization Study, CH2M Gore & Storrie Ltd.

Msw waste composition
MSW Waste Composition

Municipal solid waste composition in Alberta (1994)Source: Alberta Environment, SOER for Alberta

Waste management hierarchy






Waste Management Hierarchy


Residuals Management Disposal Options

3rs hierarchy
3Rs Hierarchy

  • Reduce

    • Source reduction can be achieved by purchasing durable, long-lasting goods, as well as seeking products and packaging that represent a reduction in materials, energy consumption or toxicity

  • Reuse

    • Reusing involves the use of a product more than once without altering its form, either for the same or for a different purpose

  • Recycle

    • Diverting products from disposal at the end of their useful lives, sorting, transporting and processing them to produce secondary sources of materials that are subsequently used in the production of new goods

Mobius loop
Mobius Loop




Energy use recycled virgin content products mj kg
Energy Use: Recycled & VirginContent Products (MJ/kg)

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Co 2 emissions recycled virgin content products kg eco 2 kg
CO2 Emissions: Recycled &VirginContent Products (kg eCO2/kg)

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Energy savings recycling versus wte incineration mj kg
Energy Savings: Recyclingversus WTE Incineration(MJ/kg)

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Co 2 emissions recycling versus disposal kg eco 2 kg
CO2 Emissions: Recycling versus Disposal (kg eCO2/kg)

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Co 2 emissions composting versus disposal kg eco 2 kg
CO2 Emissions: Composting versus Disposal (kg eCO2/kg)

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Value of pollution reductions from recycling composting
Value of Pollution Reductions from Recycling & Composting

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Sound Resource Management

Beyond lca
Beyond LCA

  • Genuine progress indicator (GPI) developed in 1995

    • GDP inadequate measure of a nation’s health

    • needed a more comprehensive measurement system to monitor the total well-being of society

    • more than just economic output

  • Genuine Wealth (well-being) model developed by Mark Anielski to assess the overall economic, social, health and environmental well-being of communities.

Typical Company of the 20th Century










raw materials



Source: The Interface Model based on Ray C. Anderson. 1999, Mid-Course Correction.: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model. Interface Inc. model

Mark Anielski

Closing the Waste Loop






natural materials


Compostable products

waste materials

waste to landfill or incinerator








Solar energy









raw materials











Wages $



Investments $

Taxes $

dividends $






Source: The Interface Model based on Ray C. Anderson. 1999, Mid-Course Correction.: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model. Interface Inc. model












The Genuine Wealth process examines the life-cycle of the relationships of your organization to other stakeholders

Natural Materials

Waste to Landfill




Solar Energy





Raw Material


Organic & Inorganic





Laws and Values






Source: Based on Interface Inc. model

Alberta stewardship program full cost accounting assessment
Alberta Stewardship Program Full Cost Accounting Assessment

  • Study Purpose: An accounting of the full range of economic, social and environmental benefits, costs and impacts of Alberta’s waste stewardship programs for beverage containers, electronics, tires and used oil materials.

  • Intended Use: To assess the true societal value of these stewardship programs to Albertans, and to serve as an accounting framework for assessing the sustainability of waste stewardship programs.

Research process
Research Process

  • Used Genuine Wealth Assessment full cost benefit accounting tool

  • Itemized the costs and benefits

  • Monetary estimates assigned where data exists

  • Estimates: low, medium (average), high

  • Net value then calculated

  • Result: relative “return” on a per unit recycled, per Albertan basis

Genuine Wealth AccountingFramework for Alberta’s Stewardship Programs

  • Sales of recovered/recycled materials

  • Program Administration and Operating Costs, Investment Costs, Amortized Costs and Aftercare Costs:

    • Alberta Used Oil Mgmt. Assoc.

    • Beverage Container Mgmt. Board

    • Alberta Recycling Mgmt. Authority

  • Government spending on services and support

  • Industry/retail sector costs (fee collection and other financial costs)

  • Household costs (direct costs associated with cleaning, sorting, delivery, and transportation)

  • Transportation costs: fuel costs to transport wastes to collection points.

  • Market disruption costs (due to reduced competition and costs incurred by industry)

  • Savings (forgone operating costs) from extended landfills

  • Avoided costs from siting and operational costs

  • Financial Liabilities: Debt and Accounts payable

  • Time-use spent in cleaning, sorting, delivery and transportation of recycled materials.

  • Direct and indirect employment (employees, contractors, suppliers)

  • Full-time vs. part-time employment

  • Productivity

  • Creativity and entrepreneurship

  • Workplace safety

  • Training and professional development

  • Personal self-development











  • Health effects (raw material extraction and waste management)

  • Civic pride and responsibility (e.g. participation rates as a proxy)

  • Equity and fairness: the equitable distribution of costs and benefits of programs amongst various stakeholders.

  • Improved overall quality of life (e.g. perceived value of cleaner/healthier environments)

    • *Customer relationships (value, loyalty and commitment by customers)

    • *Supplier relationships (value and commitment by suppliers)

    • *Reputation

    • *Work place climate (e.g. Employee interrelationships, meaningful work, workplace stress, teams and team spirit)

    • *Workplace equity (incomes, age-sex distribution, women in management)

    • *Employee family quality of life

    • *Financial investment/giving/donations to the community





  • Buildings

  • Machinery and equipment

  • Technology

  • Patents

  • Brands

  • Intellectual property (ideas, innovations)

  • Management processes

  • Production processes

  • Databases

  • Reduced landfill and incineration

  • Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Energy consumption

  • Reduction in pollutants to air, land and water.

  • Environmental quality risk

  • Ecosystem integrity/environmental protection

  • Local disamenity (odor, vermin, traffic)

Note: Items marked with an asterisk and italicized are items that are part of the Genuine Wealth framework for businesses but which will not necessarily be assessed for the Alberta Stewardship Program evaluation due to data limitations.

The benefits side of the gpi income statement
The benefits side of the GPI “income statement”:

  • Value of recovered materials in end markets.

  • Reduced landfill development and operational costs

  • Reduced environmental contamination and associated health risks of environmental impairment

  • Reduced environmental risks

  • Reduced costs of extraction/processing of virgin materials for products

  • Overall value of a cleaner/healthier environment

  • Employment benefits of a growing recycling industry

  • Avoided greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants

  • Resource conservation

  • Increased employment

  • Economic spin-offs such as tourism

  • Reduced liability

  • Energy savings

The cost side of the gpi income statement
The cost side of the GPI “income statement”:

  • Program administrative and operational costs (direct and indirect)

  • Costs to government in the oversight role of Stewardship Programs

  • Costs to other parties (i.e., retail sector to collect eco-fees, public/household participation)

  • Any increased environmental impacts associated with the programs

  • Disruptions to the marketplace

  • Operating and amortized capital costs, including costs associated with collection, transportation, storage, recycling, reuse, and recovery of materials

  • Reduced employment

  • Nuisance or increased risk management costs

  • Energy use

  • Other unaccounted environmental and social costs

2004 provincial trends
2004 Provincial Trends


Data from the territories and PEI are not provided due to confidentiality reasons

Source: Statistics Canada 2006

Provincial waste disposal
Provincial Waste Disposal

Source: Stats Can 2008

Provincial waste disposal1
Provincial Waste Disposal

Source: Stats Can 2008

Provincial waste diversion
Provincial Waste Diversion

Source: Stats Can 2008

Provincial waste diversion1
Provincial Waste Diversion

Source: Stats Can 2008

City of calgary
City of Calgary

  • Blue Cart Recycling

    • Service for single family homes

  • Community Recycling Depots

    • Service for multi-family homes

    • Network of over 50 depots


  • Blue bag, curbside pickup of recyclables

  • Co-composter composts organics contained in the general waste stream

  • Depots for drop-off of multi-family recyclables

    • New program for blue bag collection of multi-family

  • Year-round EcoStationhousehold hazardous waste drop-off


  • First Alberta community to implement “user-pay” garbage system

  • Residents assigned bag limit of 5 Bags in 1992

    • Annual reductions

    • bag limit now 2

  • Drop-off depot for collection of recyclables

  • Opened new Westside recycling facility

  • Participation rate – 72%

    • Population ~38,091

Strathcona county
Strathcona County

Rural alberta
Rural Alberta

  • Primarily drop-off depot collection of recyclables

  • Varied levels of service

  • Bag limits, user-pay and landfill bans common tools used to promote waste reduction

Edson & DistrictRecycling Depot

Ccme stewardship definition
CCME Stewardship Definition

  • “[Packaging] stewardship is a concept by which industry, governments, and consumers assume a greater responsibility for ensuring that the manufacture, use, reuse, recycling, and disposal [of packaging] has a minimum impact on the environment.”

Extended producer responsibility definition
Extended Producer Responsibility Definition

  • OECD defines EPR as an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle.

Alberta stewardship programs regulated
Alberta Stewardship Programs- Regulated

  • Beverage Containers

  • Scrap Tires

  • Used Oil Materials

  • Electronics

  • Paint

Alberta stewardship programs non regulated voluntary
Alberta Stewardship Programs - Non-Regulated / Voluntary

  • Pesticide Containers (

  • Dead Drugs (Envirx)

  • Portable Rechargeable Battery Collection (Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation)

    • Covers Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) and Small Sealed Lead (Pb) rechargeable batteries.

Beverage container recycling
Beverage Container Recycling

  • Return system established in 1972

  • Containers are returned for deposit at over 278 collection sites in Alberta (216 bottle depots for all products and 62 retail locations for beer only)

  • 1.6 billion containers collected and recycled in 2008 (77% return rate)

Beverage container management system
Beverage Container Management System

  • Deposit paid at retail level on ready to drink beverage containers (including milk)

    • 10 cents on containers up to and including one litre

    • 25 cents on containers larger than one litre

    • 10 cents for beer bottles and cans

  • Container Recycling Fee (CRF) shown visibly on till slips – non-refundable

Scrap tires
Scrap Tires

  • Program launched in 1992

  • Regulated retail advance disposal surcharge - $4.00

  • Program administered by non-profit stakeholder board (Alberta Recycling Management Authority – Tire Recycling Program)

  • Dedicated Fund

  • Board Funding Strategy

    • Pay for results

    • Value-added products

Used oil management program
Used Oil Management Program

  • Environmental Handling Charge (EHC) on new oil materials (oil, filters, plastic containers)

  • Industry-established non-profit, AUOMA, governs funds

  • Return Incentive (RI) paid for collection / transport to recyclers

  • Similar program in effect in BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario

Alberta s electronics recycling program
Alberta’s Electronics Recycling Program

  • Launched October 2004

  • Environmental fees collected on the sale of new eligible electronics in Alberta.

  • More than 300 collection sites across Alberta

    • Some communities hold e-waste roundup events

  • Over 2,800,000 units or 53,500 tonnes of electronic components recycled  

Paint recycling program
Paint Recycling Program

  • Launched April 1, 2008

  • Over 225 collection sites have been established throughout Alberta

  • Over 3.8 million litres of paint and 480,000 aerosol containers have been recycled

Stewardship summary
Stewardship Summary

  • Stewardship programs have been successful in diverting waste

  • Regulation provides level playing field to producers

  • Dedicated funds ensure targeted programs

  • DAOs maintain “arm’s length” from government

Recycling council of alberta
Recycling Council of Alberta

  • Vision

    • Zero Waste

    • Extended Producer Responsibility

    • Social Conscience

  • Mission

    • To Promote and Facilitate Waste Reduction, Recycling, and Resource Conservation in Alberta

Christina SeidelExecutive Director


[email protected]