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The environmental impacts of resource recovery


“Resource recovery has significant potential to increase the sustainability in the water sector and reduce its direct and indirect environmental impacts. Nonetheless, pursuing resource recovery does not guarantee a reduction in life cycle environmental impacts, as the inputs required for recovery may have negative environmental consequences that exceed any benefits. For example, the equipment, reactors, chemicals, and energy required to achieve the anaerobic digestion of wastewater sludge may result in net negative outcomes if the adverse environmental impacts associated with the additional consumables and in frastructure outweigh the benefits of the recovered energy. Therefore, robust evaluations of novel processes and wastewater management pathways are required to determine if environmental impacts are actually reduced, to identify opportunities and short-comings of the different options, and to reveal the potential for optimization. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an example of a tool that helps to facilitate this analysis and discussion.”

(Citation: van den Brand, T.P.H., de Jong, A.L. – The environmental impacts of resource recovery – In: Resource recovery from water: Principles and application (editors: Pikaar; I., Guest, J., GaniguĂ©; R, et.al.) DOI: 9781780409566 – Chapter 16, p.415-430 – DOI: 10.2166/9781780409566_0415- – IWA Publishing (2022) – (Open Access ebook))

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