Environmental impacts of different food waste resource technologies and the effects of energy mix

Yan ZHAO, Wenjing DENG

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The environmental impacts of food waste management strategies and the effects of energy mix were evaluated using a life cycle assessment model, EASEWASTE. Three different strategies involving landfill, composting and combined digestion and composting as core technologies were investigated. The results indicate that the landfilling of food waste has an obvious impact on global warming, although the power recovery from landfill gas counteracts some of this. Food waste composting causes serious acidification (68.0 PE) and nutrient enrichment (76.9 PE) because of NH₃ and SO₂ emissions during decomposition. Using compost on farmland, which can marginally reduce global warming (−1.7 PE), acidification (−0.8 PE), and ecotoxicity and human toxicity through fertilizer substitution, also leads to nutrient enrichment as neutralization of emissions from N loss (27.6 PE) and substitution (−12.8 PE). A combined digestion and composting technology lessens the effects of acidification (−12.2 PE), nutrient enrichment (−5.7 PE), and global warming (−7.9 PE) mainly because energy is recovered efficiently, which decreases emissions including SO₂, Hg, NO༝, and fossil CO₂ during normal energy production. The change of energy mix by introducing more clean energy, which has marginal effects on the performance of composting strategy, results in apparently more loading to acidification and nutrient enrichment in the other two strategies. These are mainly because the recovered energy can avoid fewer emissions than before due to the lower background values in power generation. These results provide quantitative evidence for technical selection and pollution control in food waste management. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-221
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Early online dateJul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


nutrient enrichment
environmental impact
global warming
waste management
power generation
pollution control
life cycle
agricultural land
Environmental impact


Zhan, Y., & Deng, W. (2014). Environmental impacts of different food waste resource technologies and the effects of energy mix. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 92, 214-221.


  • Easewaste
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Food waste
  • Composting
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Energy mix