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Greenhouse gas accounting and waste management

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Online Research Database In Technology
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Abstract

Accounting of emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) is a major focus within waste management. This paper analyses and compares the four main types of GHG accounting in waste management including their special features and approaches: the national accounting, with reference to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the corporate level, as part of the annual reporting on environmental issues and social responsibility, life-cycle assessment (LCA), as an environmental basis for assessing waste management systems and technologies, and finally, the carbon trading methodology, and more specifically, the clean development mechanism (CDM) methodology, introduced to support cost-effective reduction in GHG emissions. These types of GHG accounting, in principle, have a common starting point in technical data on GHG emissions from specific waste technologies and plants, but the limited availability of data and, moreover, the different scopes of the accounting lead to many ways of quantifying emissions and producing the accounts. The importance of transparency in GHG accounting is emphasised regarding waste type, waste composition, time period considered, GHGs included, global warming potential (GWP) assigned to the GHGs, counting of biogenic carbon dioxide, choice of system boundaries, interactions with the energy system, and generic emissions factors. In order to enhance transparency and consistency, a format called the upstream-operating-downstream framework (UOD) is proposed for reporting basic technology-related data regarding GHG issues including a clear distinction between direct emissions from waste management technologies, indirect upstream (use of energy and materials) and indirect downstream (production of energy, delivery of secondary materials) activities.

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