American Chemical Society
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Life-Cycle Assessment Harmonization and Soil Science Ranking Results on Food-Waste Management Methods

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-04-17, 00:00 authored by Jeffrey Morris, Sally Brown, Matthew Cotton, H. Scott Matthews
This study reviewed 147 life cycle studies, with 28 found suitable for harmonizing food waste management methods’ climate and energy impacts. A total of 80 scientific soil productivity studies were assessed to rank management method soil benefits. Harmonized climate impacts per kilogram of food waste range from −0.20 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) for anaerobic digestion (AD) to 0.38 kg of CO2e for landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE). Aerobic composting (AC) emits −0.10 kg of CO2e. In-sink grinding (ISG) via a food-waste disposer and flushing for management with other sewage at a wastewater treatment plant emits 0.10 kg of CO2e. Harmonization reduced climate emissions versus nonharmonized averages. Harmonized energy impacts range from −0.32 MJ for ISG to 1.14 MJ for AC. AD at 0.27 MJ and LFGTE at 0.40 MJ fall in between. Rankings based on soil studies show AC first for carbon storage and water conservation, with AD second. AD first for fertilizer replacement, with AC second, and AC and AD tied for first for plant yield increase. ISG ranks third and LFGTE fourth on all four soil-quality and productivity indicators. Suggestions for further research include developing soil benefits measurement methods and resolving inconsistencies in the results between life-cycle assessments and soil science studies.