A quick guide to LCA and CBA in waste management
This booklet explains the use of two of the most popular decision support tools for waste management today: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). It explains the basic theory of the tools, the reasons for their apparent contradictions, possible pitfalls, and how to use the results in a critical and informed manner in the waste management sector.
New sophisticated and ever more refined tools and models are popping up regularly in today’s waste management world, a world which is getting more and more complex. It is difficult for non-expert stakeholders in this busy and rapidly changing setting to distinguish between rock-solid science, belief and conviction. Who and what should we believe? What is the right decision for our concrete waste management challenges? Why can’t experts just provide us with the right answers? And how can we explain to our citizens why the eco-friendly solution which was correct yesterday, is suddenly no longer valid?
This booklet explains the use of two of the most popular decision support tools today: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). The use of these tools has been challenged recently because they can apparently lead to contradictory answers to the same questions, for instance some CBAs recommend that waste paper is recycled while other CBAs recommend that it is incinerated.
The Danish Topic Centre on Waste and Resources is happy to present this booklet to non-expert stakeholders in the waste management sector, be it policymakers, decision-makers in industry, consultants or journalists.
Drawing from the Topic Centre’s expertise with these tools, this booklet explains the basic theory of the tools, the reasons for these apparent contradictions, possible pitfalls, and how the tools can and should be used in the waste management sector.
It is not the purpose of this booklet to compare LCAs and CBAs, but to make the non-expert stakeholder wiser about the advantages and limitations of both tools, and how to use the results in a critical and informed manner.
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