Assessing the impacts of changes in treatment technology on energy and greenhouse gas balances for organic waste and wastewater treatment using historical data.Waste Manag Res. 2009 Nov; 27(9):861-70.WM
Historical data on organic waste and wastewater treatment during the period of 1970-2020 were used to assess the impact of treatment on energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) balances. The assessment included the waste fractions: Sewage sludge, food waste, yard waste and other organic waste (paper, plastic, etc.). Data were collected from Aalborg, a municipality located in Northern Denmark. During the period from 1970-2005, Aalborg Municipality has changed its waste treatment strategy from landfilling of all wastes toward composting of yard waste and incineration with combined heat and power production from the remaining organic municipal waste. Wastewater treatment has changed from direct discharge of untreated wastewater to full organic matter and nutrient (N, P) removal combined with anaerobic digestion of the sludge for biogas production with power and heat generation. These changes in treatment technology have resulted in the waste and wastewater treatment systems in Aalborg progressing from being net consumers of energy and net emitters of GHG, to becoming net producers of energy and net savers of GHG emissions (due to substitution of fossil fuels elsewhere). If it is assumed that the organic waste quantity and composition is the same in 1970 and 2005, the technology change over this time period has resulted in a progression from a net annual GHG emission of 200 kg CO(2)-eq. capita(-1) in 1970 to a net saving of 170 kg CO(2)-eq. capita(-1) in 2005 for management of urban organic wastes.