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E-Learning - Training toolkit - Module
Module:  4.
Potential environmental impacts identification in side-streams valorization technologies

The valorization of side-streams is referred to any industrial processing activities aimed at reusing, recycling or composting from wastes, valuable products or sources of energy. For instance, the side-stream valorization consists in processing residues or side-streams into raw materials or to use discarded finished or semi-finished products as raw materials or energy. The valorization technologies are relevant in order to avoid the extraction of virgin materials, as well as to reduce the waste generation; however, the potential environmental impacts identification of this sort of technologies is relevant in order to identify their real benefits beyond their technical feasibility. In this regard, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) appears as an appropriate tool to evaluate, in an objective way, the environmental weights associated to these technologies, by identifying and quantifying the use of energy, materials, as well as the emissions to the environment. This module offers the possibility of learning the LCA technique applied to the side-streams valorization context. The main objectives are:

• To learn about the LCA methodology.

• To identify the main issues related to the environmental impacts of side-stream valorization.

• To learn how to interpret the results from an LCA study.


On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

• Know and understand the LCA methodology

• Evaluate the LCA methodology limitations and threats

• Determine the system boundaries

• Perform life cycle inventory analysis

• Distinguish among the Life cycle impact assessment categories

• Apply the LCA tools for evaluation

• Analyse Life cycle impact assessment results

• Make distinct interpretation of Life cycle impact assessment results

• Implement LCA in the side-streams valorization technologies

Unit 4.1. Understanding the main concepts of the LCA methodology
4.1.1. LCA evolution
4.1.2. LCA methodology overview
4.1.3. Methodology limitations and threats
4.1.4. Goal and scope definition of the system under study
4.1.5. Functional Unit
4.1.6. System boundaries
4.1.7. Life cycle inventory analysis
Unit 4.2 Life cycle impact assessment, LCA assessment tools and their application
4.2.1. Impact assessment categories selection
4.2.2. LCA tools for evaluation
4.2.3. Interpretationof of results
4.2.4. Sensitivity analysis
4.2.5. LCA iterative approach
4.2.6. Importance of the LCA applied in the side-streams valorization technologies
4.2.7. Application of the LCA in biomass valorization technologies
4.2.8. Carbon footprint calculation of a simple technology

Carbon footprint

Environmental impacts

Life cycle assessment

Side-streams valorization