Developing An Integrated Environmental Assessment Model of Waste Management and Resource Circulation: A Progress Report

Discussion Paper
Developing An Integrated Environmental Assessment Model of Waste Management and Resource Circulation: A Progress Report

Waste management is the key stage that links anthroposphere and ecosphere. An ill-designed waste management system may lead to pollution and resource misuse. Furthermore, waste management involves LULU (Locally Unwanted Land Use) facilities, such as landfills and incinerators, and thus becomes a highly controversial public issue. Nowadays, the novel management paradigm called Integrated Waste Management (IWM) had been proposed to replace the traditional waste hierarchy. The main features of IWM are substituting the residue treatment by resource management, and it aims to optimize the total environmental benefit by combining different treatment technologies. In this sense, the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) is an approach for IWM. As the paradigm shifts toward more integrated management, a more integrated environment assessment method is emerging to support the strategy formulation.

An integrated environmental assessment (IEA) can be defined as "an interdisciplinary process of identification, analysis and appraisal of all relevant natural and human processes and their interactions which determine both the current and future state of environmental quality and resources…thus facilitating the framing and implementation of policies and strategies." (EEA) Applying IEA to waste management requires the utilization of life cycle approach to quantify the multiple environmental impacts of waste treatment technologies and a new approach to link material consumption and waste generation (Monkhouse and Farmer, 2003).

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) had been widely applied in waste management since mid-90's, and are viewed as a key tool to provide environmental information under the multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) framework. However, three issues during this application are identified: credibility of inventory analysis, limitation of waste stream projection and scenario analysis, and omission of site-dependent information of impact assessment. As a result, in order to maximize the science robustness of evaluation, integrating other environmental assessment tools to overcome the above limitations, such as waste input-output analysis (WIO), health risk assessment (HRA) and material flow analysis (MFA), is an indispensable task to construct an integrated environmental assessment model.

The organization of this paper is as follows. Section 2 provides a conceptual framework to integrate the key assessment tool. The operational details of each component will then be introduced with the basic theory and data source in Section 3.

In order to verify the usefulness of this IEA model, Section 4 introduces an illustrative example to exhibit the challenges and key concerns of Taiwan future WM/3R policy based on the future industrial structure and consumption patterns. Finally, this paper will be concluded with a discussion to explore the importance of IEA model during the decision making process of WM/3R policy.

MA, Hwong‐wen