Jurisdictions representing over 20% of the U.S. have considered or implemented policies that require some food waste diversion from landfills, and there is increasing interest in opportunities to manage organics in municipal solid waste (MSW). Given the interrelated nature of solid waste management (SWM) systems, any new policies or strategies must be fully analyzed to ensure that overall solid waste system performance is not negatively affected. This is especially true considering how waste generation, composition, the energy system, and policies are changing.
The Solid Waste Optimization Life-cycle Framework (SWOLF) is a life-cycle assessment (LCA) optimization tool developed for integrated analysis of SWM systems as part of a previous EREF grant (go.ncsu.edu/SWOLF). SWOLF consists of state-of-the-art life-cycle process models for solid waste collection, recycling, landfilling, composting, anaerobic digestion (AD), waste-to-energy (WTE), and gasification that will uniquely facilitate integrated analyses of organics diversion strategies.
SWOLF’s optimization capability will be used to perform the first dynamic multi-stage optimized LCA to assess the most cost-effective ways to sustainably manage organics in consideration of changing waste generation, composition, and policies through the following research objectives: