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Frontiers in Energy >> 2018, Volume 12, Issue 3 doi: 10.1007/s11708-018-0565-z

Carbon footprint assessment for the waste management sector: A comparative analysis of China and Japan

1. Department of Environment Systems, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba 277-8563, Japan
2. Center for Social and Environmental Systems Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan
3. Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan

Accepted: 2018-05-31 Available online: 2018-09-05

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Waste management is becoming a crucial issue in modern society owing to rapid urbanization and the increasing generation of municipal solid waste (MSW). This paper evaluates the carbon footprint of the waste management sector to identify direct and indirect carbon emissions, waste recycling carbon emission using a hybrid life cycle assessment and input-output analysis. China and Japan was selected as case study areas to highlight the effects of different industries on waste management. The results show that the life cycle carbon footprints for waste treatment are 59.01 million tons in China and 7.01 million tons in Japan. The gap between these footprints is caused by the different waste management systems and treatment processes used in the two countries. For indirect carbon footprints, China’s material carbon footprint and depreciation carbon footprint are much higher than those of Japan, whereas the purchased electricity and heat carbon footprint in China is half that of Japan. China and Japan have similar direct energy consumption carbon footprints. However, CO2 emissions from MSW treatment processes in China (46.46 million tons) is significantly higher than that in Japan (2.72 million tons). The corresponding effects of waste recycling on CO2 emission reductions are considerable, up to 181.37 million tons for China and 96.76 million tons for Japan. Besides, measures were further proposed for optimizing waste management systems in the two countries. In addition, it is argued that the advanced experience that developed countries have in waste management issues can provide scientific support for waste treatment in developing countries such as China.

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