DEFRA methodology for waste lifecycle emissions

This category allows the user to calculate emissions from various forms of waste disposal, following the latest Defra data and methodologies. Emissions are based on the full life-cycle of specific waste materials, including the disposal process and contributions from carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane.

The emission factors used herein represent net life-cycle emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from waste disposal. On average in the UK 88% of non-recycled waste goes into landfill and 12% goes to energy from waste (power only moving grate). It is important to note that this calculation includes both the life-cycle emissions for the material and the emissions from the process of disposal.


How to use this category

Selecting an emissions scenario

To use this category the user will need all relevant waste information from waste audits and waste transfer/consignment notes. If a waste contractor is used then they will be able to advise to which location wastes have subsequently been delivered (i.e. landfill site, recycling operation, composting or energy recovery facility).

To use this category firstly use the drill-downs wasteType and wasteSubType to select which waste fraction is to be calculated.

Specifying activity data

The following profile item values can be specified which state the quantities of waste which were disposed of using each disposal method (the list above mentions which of these profile item values are not appropriate for certain waste fraction types).

  • quantityReUse - amount re-used rather than disposed
  • quantityClosedLoop - disposed of by closed loop recycling
  • quantityOpenLoop - disposed of by open loop recycling
  • quantityCombustion - disposed of by combustion
  • quantityAnaerobicDigestion - disposed of by energy from waste, anaerobic digestion
  • quantityComposted - disposed of by composting
  • quantityLandfill - disposed of by landfill

Any disposal methods not under consideration can be left unspecified (i.e. they will default to 0).

Results and calculation

The returned values representsgreenhouse gas emissions associated with the the life-cycle of the chosen waste type, including disposal. The following discrete amounts are returned:

  • closedLoopDisposalCO2e: CO2e emissions attributable closed loop recycling
  • openLoopDisposalCO2e: CO2e emissions attributable open loop recycling
  • combustionDisposalCO2e: CO2e emissions attributable combustion
  • anaerobicDigestionDisposalCO2e: CO2e emissions attributable to anaerobic digestion
  • compostDisposalCO2e: CO2e emissions attributable to composting
  • landfillDisposalCO2e: CO2e emissions attributable to landfill disposal
  • totalDisposalCO2e: CO2e emissions attributable all waste disposal methods used
  • reUseEmissions: CO2e emissions atrributable to preparation for re-use
  • totalCO2e: net CO2e emissions attributable to entire material life cycle

Users should note that all quantities are expressed in terms of CO2e - the quantity of CO2 which would exert the same atmospheric warming effect and the emissions quantity.



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