Environmental sustainability assessment of food waste valorization options. Vandermeersch,T et al. (2014).
Food waste can be valorized through different technologies, such as anaerobic digestion, incineration, and animal feed production. In this study we analyzed the environmental performance of two food waste valorization scenarios from a company of the retail sector in Belgium, through exergy analysis, exergetic life cycle assessment (ELCA), and a traditional life cycle assessment (LCA). In scenario 1 all food waste was considered to be valorized in an anaerobic digestion (producing electricity, heat, digestate and sorting the packaging material to be used as fuel for cement industry), while in scenario 2 a bread fraction was valorized to produce animal feed and a non-bread fraction was valorized in an anaerobic digestion (producing the same products on scenario 1, but in lower amounts). Scenario 2 was 10% more efficient than scenario 1 in the exergy analysis. For the ELCA and the single score LCA, scenario 2 presented lower environmental impacts than scenario 1 (32% and 26% lower, respectively). These results were mainly due to the avoided products from traditional supply chain (animal feed produced from agricultural products) and lower exergy loss atthe feed production plant. Nevertheless, the high dry matter content ofthe bread waste played an important role on these results, therefore it should be pointed out that valorizing food waste to animal feed seems to be a better option only for the fractions of food waste with low water content (as bread waste).