Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a method of evaluating the environmental aspects of waste management activities over the lifetime of a project. Developers, councils and waste managers are often required to demonstrate the environmental impact of a project and LCA is often the most manageable method of achieving this.

WRATE

The Waste and Resources Assessment Tool for the Environment (WRATE) is an industry recognised software package which allows straightforward life cycle analyses to be conducted for municipal wastes. ORA is experienced in the use of WRATE and has used it in both small and large projects to quantify both environmental benefits and burdens to the public and private sectors.

Example WRATE output - Global warming potential
An output from WRATE. This example shows global warming potential
from three different waste management scenarios.

ORA uses WRATE to identify the environmental aspects from kerbside collection to advanced waste treatment facilities such as anaerobic digestion through to ultimate disposal. As an LCA tool, WRATE considers the environmental impact of the full life cycle of the provision of additional services. This includes all elements such as the raw materials used in the construction of wheeled bins, in the manufacture and maintenance of vehicles and in the construction of facilities used to treat the waste.

WRATE takes into account all the stages in the management and processing of waste, from the point where it is disposed of by the household to the controlled disposal or recovery of waste. It takes into account:

WRATE is administered by the Environment Agency and is based on data and assumptions from diverse sources. The assumptions in WRATE are accessible and so ORA can comment on these and hence maximise the accuracy of the outputs obtained.

Outputs

ORA uses WRATE to compare the environmental impact of different waste management options. The outputs from the model requested are usually global warming potential, eutrophication, acidification, human health, freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity and resource depletion. An example output is shown at the top of this page. Once outputs have been obtained from the model, ORA can modify it to maximise the environmental benefits of a project, and in doing so make practical recommendations for improving environmental performance.