Environmental assessment and sustainable management options of leachate and landfill gas treatment in Estonian municipal waste landfills

Viktoria Voronova (Institute of Environmental Engineering, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia)
Harri Moora (Stockholm Environment Institute, Tallinn Office, Tallinn, Estonia)
Enn Loigu (Institute of Environmental Engineering, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Publication date: 27 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare various landfill gas (LFG) and leachate treatment technologies in a life‐cycle perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

Since a landfill causes emissions for a very long‐time period, life‐cycle‐based environmental assessment was carried out to compare different technological options for sustainable leachate treatment and LFG collection and utilization. WAMPS, the life‐cycle assessment (LCA) model for waste management planning, was used for the environmental assessment of selected leachate and LFG treatment technologies.

Findings

Results of both direct measurements in the studied landfills and LCA support the fact that leachate treatment with reverse osmosis has the best environmental performance compared to aerobic‐activated sludge treatment. Recently, the collection efficiency of LFG in the studied landfills is relatively low. In order to improve the overall environmental performance of LFG management the gas collection rate should be improved. LFG utilisation for energy recovery is an essential part of the system. The results of the study show that the avoided impacts of energy recovery can be even greater than direct impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. Therefore, measures which combine LFG collection with energy generation should be preferred to treatment in flare.

Research limitations/implications

It should be noted that the results of this study do not express the total environmental impacts of the entire landfill system, but only the eutrophicating impacts and global warming related to the studied leachate and LFG management options. Therefore, it is recommended that further LCAs investigate also other relevant impact categories.

Practical implications

The results of LCA modelling show that it is important to ensure the highest collection and treatment efficiency of leachate and LFG, since poor capture compromises the overall environmental performance of a landfill.

Originality/value

The paper provides a site‐specific data on sustainable leachate and LFG management in selected Estonian conventional municipal solid waste landfills. As such, the paper contributes to the development of the regional reference input data for LCA in waste management.

Keywords

Citation

Voronova, V., Moora, H. and Loigu, E. (2011), "Environmental assessment and sustainable management options of leachate and landfill gas treatment in Estonian municipal waste landfills", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 22 No. 6, pp. 787-802. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777831111170876

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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